Begin by removing any rocks, debris and weeds. Level the area to be planted as evenly as possible. It should be graded with a gentle slope away from buildings, and any low spots filled in with topsoil and tamped down.
For poor soils, cover the entire area with a layer of topsoil 4 to 6 inches deep. Thoroughly rake the surface, apply a good quality lawn start fertilizer such as 14-28-8 at the manufacturers suggestion for the size of your lawn. Lightly rake the soil again then seed according to recommended rates. Check the acidity of your soil. Lawns prefer a PH of 6.2 to 6.5. An application of dolomite lime will sweeten the soil. Do not lime and fertilize at the same time, leave a week or two in between.
Choose a seed for your needs:
1) Front or back lawn
2) Amount of sun or shade
3) Amount of traffic ( kids or pets)
Fall or Spring are best seeding times.
Apply seed by hand or with a seeder or spreader, ensure good coverage. For small areas, hand broadcasting from a container is easy.
After seeding, rake lightly to incorporate the seed into the top ¼ inch of soil. The area should then be rolled to firm the soil. A light covering of peat moss can be spread over the entire area to help with water retention and attempt to keep the birds from eating your seed. SEED WON’T GERMINATE IN COLD SOILS, TEMPERATURES SHOULD BE OVER 10C. If you are not sure, soil thermometers are available for sale.
Water soil frequently but lightly to avoid washing away the seed. This can mean multiple times during a hot day, and the peat will help to show where ‘dry spots’ are, as peat moss is much darker wet than dry.
Keeping the area moist is critical at the germination stage. Give light applications frequently during dry warm weather and NEVER LET THE SEED DRY OUT. As growth progresses, watering can be done with longer intervals. Avoid sprinklers that form puddles, which will carry away the seed and peat moss.
The first mowing should not take place until the grass is at least 2 inches high. Cut at this height with a sharp mower and remove the clippings or use a grass catcher. Cut in a different direction each time to avoid laying down the grass in a matting effect. Water lightly after each mowing.
For the next feeding, use half the recommended rate and only after 3 or 4 cuttings to ensure the lawn has been established. To control weeds, get a head start and don’t wait until you have a problem. Check your lawn before you mow it, hand pulling any starting weeds, There are many long handled weed pullers on the market to remove weeds easily. Just pop them onto the lawn, and pick them up in the grass catcher as you mow. If your lawn has been installed and cared for properly, the grass will grow in well and weeds will be kept at a minimum.
Pick up Art Knapps Safe and Sensible Pest Control hand out for tips on a healthy lawn.