The Q&A Archives: getting started

Question: my yard's in need!! there's barely any grass and i have that awful georgia clay for soil. i've decided to lay sod but i'm not sure about the proper steps. can someone tell me where to start? do i need to till the land? should i remove some of the clay? should i kill the small bit of grass first? help!! thanks a lot. m.

Answer: You'll want to remove the weeds either by digging them out or by applying a vegetation killer such as Round Up. Once the weeds are dead, rototill the area. Tillers can be rented from your local rental center or borrowed from a neighbor if you don't have one of your own. Spread a starter fertilizer over the now-loosened soil. This type of fertilizer is high in phosphorus, the middle number in the NPK sequence on a fertilizer bag. Also spread a soil conditioner over the soil. "Soil conditioner" is often what it's called at the store, but if you have a good supply of compost at home, it will serve just as well as a soil amendment. Again using the tiller, till the starter fertilizer and soil conditioner (or equivalent) into the soil. I know this seems like a lot of work, but good soil preparation is one key in seeding or sodding lawns successfully. Now rake the soil to begin to level it out, removing any rocks and debris that you find. To avoid problems with excess water-runoff, make sure that any site grading you do allows water to flow away from your house. This step requires a roller. Rollers, like tillers, can be rented from your local rental center. Fill the roller's drum with water, then use the roller to finish leveling the soil. Water the soil lightly. Since you're installing sod rather than seeding, your soil is all ready to receive the sod. After the sod is laid you will want to use the roller again. But first you'll empty out the water from the drum, because you want it lighter this time. Now roll the lawn surface to help the roots of the sod make good contact with the soil. Water as often as recommended with the instructions that came with your sod. Good luck with your new lawn!

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