A beautiful lawn does not come without some effort. Depending upon what type of soil you have, the amount of effort will vary. For instance when raising trees and shrubs, sandy or a gravel base soil is great. Landscape plants like well drained soiled. A lawn on the other hand is different. Lawn grasses grow constantly throughout the growing season, and need an ample supply of both nutrients and water.
The establishment of a new lawn requires extensive site preparation. The first task is to over turn the entire area which is to become lawn. With a grading rake remove as much of the material as you possibly can then rototill the area again. Once you’ve remove the old vegetation add some topsoil, which provides nutrients and some peat moss, for water retention. Rototill the area one last time and remove the remaining debris. You’ll most like uncover more stones and vegetation. With a grading rake, preferably a professional one (they’re wider and make the job easier), grade the soil until you have a smooth even surface. Be sure to slope the garden away from any patios and paths as this will prevent water from flooding your hardscapes. This is important especially in winter when the water can freeze creating slippery walkways. Next, rent a lawn roller to smooth out the area and pack the soil just a bit to avoid extremely loose soil.
The next step in this process is to add soil conditioners such as lime and fertilizer. For new lawns use starter fertilizer which can be found at any local nursery or greenhouse. Run a cyclone spreader over the prepared area making sure to follow the application rates called for on the bag.
When using seed make sure you have an understanding of the existing conditions. Where are the sunny spots and where is there shade. Different conditions will require different seeds. Kentucky bluegrass will do well in sun while fescues generally do better in shade. In all areas however, there should be a mix of Kentucky bluegrass, rye and fescue, at least here in the northern sections of the country. Spreading the seed with a cyclone spreader evenly distributes the seed. Once spread use an upside-down metal leaf rake and lightly drag over the soil. This is to bury the seeds just a bit for a higher germination rates. Water thoroughly immediately and don’t let the seed dry out for about there weeks. If birds seem to become a problem cover the area with straw.
For sod roll the grass on to the prepared soil. Begin at one end of the area lining up the rolls end to end. After complete the first row begin the next one with a half roll so the seams are staggered. Be sure to tuck the sides of the rolls down into the soil. When laying sod remember that it is perishable so buy only enough for the day’s project, otherwise you run the risk of the rolls yellowing. Once you have laid down the rolls water as described above.
Another option to establish a lawn is hydroseeding. This is when a mix of seed, fertilizer, and water retaining mulch is sprayed from a tank onto a prepared soil. This can be expensive but usually works quite well. Because most lawn grasses grow so vigorously, they need additional amounts of nutrients added in order to stay looking nice. Just use one of the four step programs offered by the fertilizer companies. Most of these programs also include weed control along with the fertilizer. Here in the north we basically have two concerns with weeds in our lawns.
When selecting grass seed, you should always use a blend that is recommended for your area. Here in the north a popular blend contains fine bladed perennial rye grass, fescue, and blue grass. Keep in mind that it takes blue grass seeds 28 days to germinate, while most perennial rye grasses germinate in 5 or 6 days, so you never want to plant a lawn that is 100% Kentucky blue grass. Before the blue grass seeds have a chance to germinate, every kind of weed imaginable will already be actively growing in your lawn.
With a blend, the faster germinating grasses come up quickly, and act as a nurse crop for the slower germinating seeds. Having a blend also gives you some protection in case some new pest comes along that attacks certain types of grasses.
General Watering Guidelines
alk over your lawn, if there are distinct footprint left behind the lawn needs to be watered. Use a pitch for to test the soil at a depth of about 6 inches. If the soil is exceptionally dry at that level, water. Lawn grasses need to be water thoroughly and deeply. Insufficient watering can lead to root development confined just below the surface resulting in a weaker, disease prone lawn. Over watering can result in similar effects.
Soil type also determines the frequency and amount of water needed. Sandy soils aren’t able hold much water and require more water more frequently than grass grown in clay soils which can become water logged if water too often.
Avoid watering between 4pm and 8pm as well as between 9am and 11am as watering at these time of day can result in prolonged leaf wetness making the grass susceptible to disease. Night irrigation works well because there is less water lost to evaporation. On hot humid nights however night watering may increase the spread of turf disease. Midday watering works well on hot day as the water will cool over heated turf.