The Q&A Archives: I'm surrounded by mud

Question: We recently just bought a brand new home complete with mud for a lawn. What should we do to get ready to begin sowing grass seeds and planting flowers and starting our vegitable garden. When should we start preparing the ground. We live in Vermont and it is mostly a sandy soil and covered with snow at present. Thank you for any suggestions you can give us.

Answer: The important thing is to allow the soil to dry out before attempting to work it. If you work saturated soils, you'll compact them and end up with a terrible mess. To judge whether or not the soil has dried out enough to work, take a handful and squeeze it. If it drips water or if it becomes a ball and is hard to break up, it's too wet to work. If it forms a ball that is easily crumbled, it's dry enough to work. Sandy soil typically drains quickly and will benefit from some moisture-holding organic matter. For flower or vegetable beds, you can spread 4-5 inches of organic matter over the top of the bed and work it in to a depth of 8-10 inches, then level the bed and plant your annuals and perennials and shrubs. Lawns will benefit from the addition of organic matter, as well. After spreading organic matter over the lawn area, rototil it in and then rake it level, with a gentle slope away from the house (for good drainage). When the weather warms in the spring you can seed your new lawn, or have sod installed.

Best wishes with your new landscape!

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