Summary: How to make a lawn look great is not complicated, but doing some soil prep work will help get the lawn off to a better start. Just like remodeling indoors, work needs to be done to give the lawn a solid foundation.
Question: We need some help on “How to make a lawn“, we recently bought a foreclosed home and have remodeled the inside. The lawn looks terrible, and now want to turn our attention to the yard outside.
We thought if the lawn looked better (have some green grass maybe) it would make us feel better when pulling into the driveway. There is landscaping to do but want to get started making the lawn our first priority. Mason, Trenton Ohio
Answer: Mason, making a lawn is not complicated. Outside of the matter of good drainage, there is no need for being too fussy about the quality of the lawns soil. You can build your soil over time organically.
While individual grass varieties do have some soil preferences, all of the good grasses have a wide range of adaptability. What is a good job of preparation for one will serve the others equally well.
A minimum layer of 4 to 6 inches of good topsoil is desirable. If topsoil has been stockpiled when the foundation was dug, or if a good quality can be obtained at a reasonable price, certainly it should be used.
On the other hand, it is often possible to modify either a heavy clay or light sandy type of subsoil to make it satisfactory for growing grass. Working three or four cubic yards of organic material per 1.000 square feet of area into the soil to a 4 or 5-inch depth will put it into good physical condition.
Raw peat is a good material for this purpose. Baled pulverized peatmoss also is good but usually too expensive to use. The cost of these materials must be compared with the cost of time and quantity of topsoil required to cover 1,000 square feet to a 4 to 6-inch depth (12 to 18 cubic yards).
After the soil has been thoroughly loosened to a 5 or 6-inch depth, apply 50 to 60 pounds of 20 per cent superphosphate per 1,000 square feet and work it down into the soil as thoroughly as possible. A rotary tiller or garden tractor will do a good job.
Where soils are acid, 100 pounds of dolomite lime per 1,000 square feet can be worked in at the same time. Next, 20 to 40 pounds per 1,000 square feet of a good quality complete fertilizer should be spread on the surface and raked in lightly.
Sowing Grass Seed
Sow seed evenly on the worked surface and rake very lightly to cover. Many grass seeds are small and difficult to distribute uniformly. If such seeds are mixed with about twice their volume of finely screened sand (sandbox sand) they can be handled much more easily, even when a mechanical seeder is used.
The quantity of seed used is an important item. Since seeds of different grasses vary greatly in size and weight, the seeding rates necessarily must be different. Good quality bentgrass seed should be used at a rate of not more than 1 to 2 pounds per 1,000 square feet.
Rates for bluegrasses and fescues should not exceed 2 to 3 pounds and 4 to 5 pounds, respectively. Where mixtures are a safe rule is to apply 4 pounds per 1,000 square feet. It is seldom necessary to exceed these quantities. To do so not only wastes expensive seed but may actually weaken the grass by causing competition for food and moisture.
Rolling The Lawn after Seeding
Rolling is done for just one purpose – to firm the soil around the seed. A light empty water roller should be used. Soil should be rolled only when reasonably dry. Rolling cannot be substituted for a good job of preliminary grading.
Any attempt to roll out high spots will only result in such severe soil compaction that the grass may not come up.
Mulching is added insurance of a good stand of grass. Many kinds of materials can be used. A mulch does two things: It prevents rapid drying out of the soil and reduces the danger of washing out the seed during heavy rains or when it is necessary to water the lawn artificially.
Where hay or straw are used they can be spread at the rate of one light bale (75 to 100 pounds) per 1,000 square feet. Mulches should be removed as soon as the grass comes up and turns green. A good time to do this is during a cool cloudy period.