The Q&A Archives: lawn

Question: I am planting a new lawn. I have removed the old sod and the soil beneath is very hard clay. I would like to know what would be the best way to prepare this new soil. I dont mind putting money and effort into good soil.

Answer: The effort you put into preparing the soil now will reward you for years to come! Organic matter is the answer to loosening clay soil. I'd spread 3-4 inches of compost or other organic matter over the area and rototil it in. When you're ready to plant, 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. Again using the tiller, till the starter fertilizer and soil conditioner into the soil. I know this seems like a lot of work, but good soil preparation is one key in seeding 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 mext 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. For this step you'll need a seed spreader. Following the recommended seeding rate, spread 1/4 of the seed over the entire lawn area. Then repeat times, each time using 1/4 of the seed. However, each of the 4 times you distribute a load of seed, push the spreader in a different direction, to encourage even dispersal. Rake lightly, so as to cover the seed with a thin layer of soil. For this step you'll 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. You're done seeding the lawn, but you're not done working! The seeds must be watered properly, in order to germinate. Use just a fine spray, as you don't want to create a flood! The soil should be kept evenly moist, which may mean several waterings per day (depending on the weather). After the grass blades sprout, you'll still need to water a couple of times per day. Good luck with your new lawn!

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