The Q&A Archives: Soil Preparation For Lawns

Question: What is the proper way to prepare the soil to place sod for for a lawn?

Answer: When you prepare the soil for a lawn, your main goal is to provide a good environment for developing deep rooted grass plants. The faster and deeper the roots can grow, the better your chance of success with the sod. Roots grow best into a loose, organic soil that is evenly moist yet not sopping wet.

You will need to loosen the soil as deep as possible, add organic matter such as compost, possibly add amendments such as lime or fertilizer, then smooth the soil and rake the surface to a fine texture. The proportions of organic matter and amendments really depend on the native soil. the only way to tell is to run some soil tests and then work according to the results.

Once the sod is laid, it needs to have good complete contact between the bare roots on the sod and the prepared soil surface. You will then need to keep it evenly moist but not sopping wet until the roots have grown down into the soil. If the sod dries out before it is rooted, it will die.

Your county extension should be able to help you with the tests and interpreting the results. They may also have recommendations about laying sod and about which grass types do well in your local soil and local growing conditions.

They may also have some sense about the probabilities of possible watering restrictions in your area this summer, since this is so important when starting a new lawn. Ideally lawns are installed in early spring or even better, in the fall when natural rainfall is more generous.

Good luck with your new sod.

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