The Q&A Archives: What is the best/quickest way to get new grass?

Question: My daughter is handicapped (Cerebral Palsy) and confined to a wheelchair. She has recently been selected for and received a service dog to help her with her daily tasks. We have also just added on to our home (a completely handicapped addition for our daughter) and the back yard is a mess. We had to have a minimum amount of fenced in space for the dog (A beautiful black Lab named Ellie)to exercise, which we did. Now the problem is no grass! I seeded the back yard, put straw down and plan to fertilize, but there has to be a quicker way, the dog needs exercise and is dying to get out and play, but right now the lot is just dirt and straw. I have been thinking about looking into sod or turf, but I have heard it is quite expensive and wondering if it is worth the money? Any comments or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Answer: I should mention that an active dog can ruin lawn grass by running on it during the winter or in wet weather, so you may find that an area covered with gravel or mulch is a good alternative -- this could also be installed instantly. If there is a dog park near you, that might be a great place to let the dog run and play and socialize with other dogs as well.

September is the best time of year to start a new lawn. Sod gives a quicker result but is much more expensive to install.

Whether you use seed or sod, you will still have to do thorough soil preparation. This includes loosening the soil down about six inches, working in organic matter such as compost, work in fertilizer and/or limestone as indicated by soil tests, level and rake the surface smooth.

After you put down the sod or seed you will need to water to keep the area evenly moist until it becomes well established. There really is no shortcut, and during the establishment timeframe there should be only minimal traffic on the lawn or you can damage it.

Your local county extension should be able to help with the soil testing and interpreting the results, recommending the best grass type to plant in your local growing conditions and the soil in your yard, and suggest an overall lawn maintenance plan to keep it healthy once it does grow.

I hope this helps you decide what to do, and congratulations on your new service dog!

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