The Q&A Archives: How to grow a lawn?

Question: My husband and I just bought an end unit townhouse that has a beautifully landscaped backyard complete with white stones/rocks in lieu of a grass with pretty brick stepping stones. In addition, we have a ton of flowers separated by a wall of garden bricks built up on either side when entering the yard. However, we have puppies, and it just isn't feasible to not have grass in our yard.

So we need to get rid of the stones (there is a black liner thing under the stones), and replace it with grass. How on earth do I go about doing this? Do we take up the stones and dispose of them, and then lay down some grass seeds or would we be better with laying down actual grass and letting it grow into the ground?

We live in Northern VA/DC area. This is definitely a project we'd like to tackle ourselves, I just don't know where to start.-

Answer: Before you take out the gravel, you may want to consider that dogs running on wet grass or on frozen ground will kill the grass and turn the lawn area into a sea of mud. This is why many dog owners have separate gravel or concrete dog run areas to protect their lawn. The harder surfaces can also be hosed off to clean them.

But if you still want to do this, you will need to remove the gravel, and then take up the underlaying landscape fabric. Then loosen the soil down at least six inches and work in a generous amount of compost or other organic matter such as rotted down autumn leaves. Also run some basic soil tests to check the fertility and soil pH. Add fertilizer and lime as indicated by the soil tests. Then level the area and rake the surface smooth.

Now you are ready to lay sod or seed the area. Keep it evenly moist like a wrung out sponge (not sopping wet) until the new lawn is fully rooted and established. The new lawn will not be able to handle foot traffic (except when you mow it) until it is well established. (Sod will handle traffic sooner than a seeded lawn.)

Plan on mowing the lawn often, setting the blades at three inches high and cutting often enough that you never remove more than an inch at a time. This can mean mowing more than once a week in spring and sometimes in fall when the lawn is growing fast.

The best time of year to do extensive lawn work is early September, so you have some time to get your soil testing and preparation done. Your local county extension should be able to help you with the soil testing and developing a lawn care plan based on your soil and the type of grass you plant.

Good luck with your project and enjoy those puppies!

« Click to go to the homepage

» Ask a question of your own

Q&A Library Searching Tips

  • When singular and plural spellings differ, as in peony and peonies, try both.
  • Search terms are not case sensitive.

Today's site banner is by Paul2032 and is called "Coreopsis"