Answer: When you want to grow lawn grass or turf, it's usually best to start with some basic soil tests and improve your soil based on the test results before you plant. This is true whether you are using sod or grass seed.
Usually you will need to loosen the soil down about eight inches and work in ample amounts of organic matter such as compost before you plant. This allows the grass to root more easily. You will also have to water, if needed to supplement rain, so the soil stays evenly damp while the grass becomes rooted.
Your local county extension should be able to help you with the tests and interpreting the results. They should also be able to tell you which specific grass varieties grow best in the soil you have. Keep in mind also that early spring and then early fall are the best times to start a new lawn. You'll want to do the testing as soon as possible to allow time to prepare the soil and then let it settle a little bit before you plant. I hope you have better results this year!
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