HELP - Knowledgebase Question

Coral Gables, Fl
Avatar for lilyangarcia
Question by lilyangarcia
March 14, 2010
We just bought a house and the grass was full on weeds and the landscaping was totally out of control for being abandoned for years, so we took everything out and we have a blank canvas - and don't know where to start. Can you tell us what is the best sod for the Miami climate? What to do for landscaping that is easy to maintain and looks great? Thank you

Answer from NGA
March 14, 2010
Sound like you're off to a good start! St. Augustine, Bermuda, Centiped and Zoysia all grow well in your climate. Bermuda is the only lawn you can seed: the rest will need to be installed through sod, plugs or sprigs. Preparing the lawn area is the same whether you seed, sod, install plugs or sprigs. Here's how:
1. Remove the old lawn and/or weeds, if any exist. 2.Break up the compacted soil with a tiller. Tillers (also called rototillers) can be rented from your local rental center. 3.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. 4.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. 5.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 lawns successfully. 6. 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. 7. 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. 8. If you are seeding rather than sodding, 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. 9. Rake lightly, so as to cover the seed with a thin layer of soil. The next step applies whether you are seeding or sodding.
10.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.
11. Your new lawn will need to be watered until the seeds sprout or the sod roots into your soil.

As for landscaping ideas, here's a publication from the university that you might find helpful when choosing plants:

Good luck with your new landscape!

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