Thursday, March 19, 2015

How to Start a Lawn: Step-By-Step Instructions

Starting a lawn from scratch can be a daunting task, especially if you are dealing with some serious acreage. But with a little preparation and attention to growing conditions, you can have yourself a lush landscape in no time!
The following steps will help you in your growing venture, outlining everything from assessing the condition of your soil to picking the proper time of year to disperse your lawn seed and how to care for your lawn when it comes to life.
Typically, it is best to plant during the fall when seeds are still able to germinate in cooler temperatures without drying out. Come spring time, you’re guaranteed rolling green pastures!
Test Soil pH – Before any actual planting occurs, you will need to test the soil’s pH level to measure acidity and alkalinity to determine if the soil is ideal for nourishing seeds and encouraging growth. Measure out soil into a pH test kit and shake well. Once the soil has settled, compare the color of the test kit to the color coded chart to determine if it is already optimal for germination. Grass grows best in soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.5, so if your pH reading is lower than 6, the soil is too acidic and you will need to add lime. If the reading is above 7.5, the soil is too alkaline and you will need to add peat moss or sulfur depending on how mild the alkalinity is. We will cover how to handle this in a later step.
Remove Rocks, Roots and Obstacles – In order to even out the soil and till it to a good consistency for seed germination, you should remove any large rocks or roots by digging them out with a shovel and filling holes with additional topsoil. Use a rotary tiller to break up any large pieces of packed earth.
Add Sand and Compost – Now that you have leveled out the soil and removed any obstructions, use a shovel to distribute approximately one inch of sand across the entire planting area as evenly as possible. Follow up with a rotary tiller to mix the sand in with the soil. Use the same method to lay one inch of compost, again using the rotary tiller to incorporate it into the sand and soil mixture.
Balance pH Levels and Add Fertilizer – If your pH reading showed that your soil was too acidic, you’ll need to add a layer of sulfur with the broadcast spreader. Finally, use the walk-behind broadcast spreader to distribute starter fertilizer across the entire area. All of these need to be applied at different rates to be effective, so take your time in distributing them across the soil and do not mix them together in the spreader if you are trying to cut down on time. You’ll need to work the fertilizer and sulfur or lime into the top layer of the soil, so use a metal garden rake to mix everything together and then level it out.
It’s Seedin’ Time – Using a handheld broadcast spreader (or a walk-behind one if you are dealing with a large plot), begin to disperse the grass seed evenly across the entire area of soil. Flip over a plastic leaf rake to use the back of the tines in order to work the seeds gently into the soil. To avoid patchy grass growth, use short strokes to avoid redistributing seeds.
Water Regularly – After you have sowed the seeds and raked them into the soil, water the entire area lightly, taking care to make sure there are no dry spots. Water two to three times daily for the first 8 to 10 days for only 5 to 10 minutes at a time so as not to wash away the seeds. Once seeds have germinated and grass begins to appear, water daily for 15 to 30 minutes at a time. Try to water in the morning when there is less evaporation so your grass can take in an adequate amount of moisture.
Do you have any lawn starting tips that worked well for you? Share with us in the comments!
If you want to turn that patch of dirt in your backyard into a beautiful green blanket of lush grass, get everything you need at Paris Farmers Union!
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