New Lawn - Knowledgebase Question

Bronx, NY (Zone 6B)
Avatar for mfolan
Question by mfolan
February 24, 2007
I'm moving to new apartment and I want to plant a new lawn 12' X 6' ontop of dead, hard soil that may not be very deep. I'm in the Bronx New York and the garden my not get much natural light. Oh and to make things even worse I have noooo gardening experience - help!!!!

Answer from NGA
February 24, 2007
There are several issues here. First of all lawn grasses really do best with lots of sun. If your lawn area receives at least six hours of direct sun including the hour of noon it should be fine. If it receives less sun than that you may want to consider a groundcover instead. Also, something to keep in mind is that a groundcover would be much less work to maintain once it is established -- no mowing.

No matter what you plant, you will need to remove any existing vegetation, dig down and loosen the soil to about ten inches deep, and work in ample quantities of good quality compost, then level the area and rake the soil surface smooth. For turf grass you may also need to add lime if the soil is very acidic; the only way to to know that is to test the soil pH. It's best if you can do this well ahead of planting so that the soil has time to re-settle a little and you can correct the surface grading if necessary. It also allows you to rake the soil surface and remove any early sprouting weeds before you seed the grass.

If it turns out the soil is truly shallow you will need to water far more often than normal or possibly consider using a more drought tolerant plant than turf grass.

If you want to plant grass this spring, you need to plant the seed quite early -- usually in April but this depends on the weather. Grass seed germinates best with a soil temperature at about 50 degrees (measured down two inches).

You will also need to water it if rain does not keep the soil evenly moist while the seed is germinating and the grass is coming up and then later on in the season if there is a dry spell.

Good luck with your new lawn!

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