The Q&A Archives: Soil Preparation for Lawn

Question: I live in salinas. The lawn was nothing but crabgrass and weeds. I killed the crabgrass last year, only to have dirt, hay, and stickers now. Found out our soil has alot of clay and rock. I was told that it used to be a rock bed. What is best way to begin, but not too expensive? Should I use seed, sod, or what? We have a big ant problem also. Please advise what I need to do to get a half decent lawn.

Answer: The effort that you put forth now to put in your lawn 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. 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 six to eight inches of your soil.

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 spade's 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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