The Q&A Archives: starting a lawn

Question: I have hard red clay, have loosened and sowed several types of seeds, weed and feed, watered until puddles appeared to no avail. What is your advice on the best way to start a lawn. Should I use sod in the fall? For now, my idea is to cover the clay with hay and mulch as a composte start, loosen all in the fall, then sod. Is this a good idea? Your advice is most definitely appreciated. Thx.

Answer: It sounds as though you did everything right the first time you seeded, except that your timing may have been off by a couple of months. While grass seeds need warmth to germinate, they should have been sown by the first week of April in your gardening region so the turf could establish itself well before the weather got really hot. I suspect that's why they didn't germinate well for you - it's just too warm now. Sodding provides you with an instant lawn, but summertime is really a difficult time to get the roots to establish themselves. I think your idea about covering the area with compost and/or straw is a good one. A thick cover like that will keep weed seeds from sprouting in the area. Then, when the weather cools down this fall you can rototil the compost and straw into the soil, level it and sow your grass seeds. Your turf will get off to a good start when the weather is cooler and will establish itself before winter. Next spring it will be all primed and ready to grow for you. Good luck with your lawn!

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