The Q&A Archives: Starting a Lawn

Question: We want to start a lawn in our dirt backyard. Unfortunately, the yard is now full of 2-3 foot high weeds. After we kill them, do we just rake them up? What are the next steps to starting a lawn and making sure the weeds dont come back? I think we are going to lay sod.

Answer: The effort that you put forth now, to put your lawn in will determine the quality of your lawn for years to come. It will also make a major difference in the amount of upkeep and maintainance you will have to perform in the future.

The condition and type of the soil under the grass is the most important element to the overall health of your lawn. In situations where you are putting in a new lawn you will have ample opportunity to prepare the soil before the grass is planted. It is a good idea to have the soil tested before establishing your new lawn. The soil test report gives the type and amount of fertilizer to apply for your lawn. This fertilizer (and lime, if required) should be worked into the top four to six inches of your soil. Once your lawn is established it is hard to do much to improve the soil at the root level.

Proper preparation of the soil is the first step in attaining a healthy lawn. Once you've killed the weeds you'll want to remove them, then rake and remove any other debris such as sticks and rocks. Then the soil should be tilled thoroughly, either by a mechanical tiller or digging down a spades depth over the entire area. The soil is now ready to be raked smooth, filling low spots and removing the humps and breaking up the larger clumps as you go.

After you've prepared the soil, you can either broadcast seed or install sod. A thick, healthy lawn will shade and crowd out most weed seedlings so be sure to water and feed your new lawn on a regular basis. Enjoy your new lawn!

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