When we talk about a house having "curb appeal" few things contribute as
much as a beautiful home lawn. You can't always control the
amount or type of topsoil you have to work with, but you can choose top quality
grass seed or sod and make adjustments to the chemistry of the soil for the
best possible growing conditions with the hand you have been dealt.
Grass is growing fast on this lawn renovated in Fall!
September is lawn renovation month
With a new
home it's usually necessary to plant the lawn as soon as construction is
completed, even if
the growing season isn't conducive to planting grass. When there is a choice, fall
(September in the northeastern US) is the best time to seed and spring (April) is second best
Some housing developments may require a sod lawn in front, while the rest of
the lawn can be seeded to save money.
Fall is best time to plant a lawn
in the northeastern US
are surprised to hear that fall planting is better than spring. For one thing,
spring plantings face much more weed competition. But more importantly, as soon as
spring-planted grass is up and growing, it has to face the rigors of summer heat and dry
weather. Fall planted grasses have both the fall season and spring season to
grow and mature before facing summer heat.
the above considerations in mind, here are a few of the basics:
early by sending a soil sample to a lab for analysis. Your
lime and fertilizer
requirements will be outlined in their written report.
utility lines, and especially any shallow wires (TV cable), before digging. Call
1-800-242-1776 at least one week before digging to get utility lines marked; usually this
service is free to homeowners.
"work" soil when it's wet. Tilling or cultivating wet soil can ruin the
soil structure. It also makes your work much more difficult.
attention to grading. Soil should be sloped away from foundations and graded to
prevent low spots that will puddle. Consider adding a french drains at the base of
steep slopes, and other areas where there is poor surface runoff.
>> Finish grade the lawn with topsoil if possible. Remove rocks and other debris
that will impede good growth.
>> Apply lime and fertilizer according to your soil test results. In lieu of a
soil test on Pennsylvania lawns, apply per 1,000 square feet: 50 pounds of agricultural lime, 10 pounds
of 10-30-10 starter fertilizer (or equivalent), and grass seed at the recommended rate.
There are different types of grass seed varieties for specific areas [cool
season or warm season grasses].
>> Mulch the lawn surface with one of the following:
Mushroom manure - Great for lawns - use a thin coat
Straw - Use the "cleanest" weed-free
straw you can find at a "3-straw thickness" (straw is the least expensive
Professionals also use hydroseeding or 'Penn Mulch' ---
both methods use green-colored paper to hold moisture.
your lawn now
becomes the most important part!
New sod lawns require regular
watering to aid establishment
contains some weed seeds. The rye straw (above) had seedheads causing
some rye (coarser blades) to grow along with the new grass seedlings.
Mowing will eventually kill this weedy rye.
are sodding a lawn instead of seeding, follow the steps listed above with the following exceptions:
finish grading, leave the grade one-inch lower along walks, driveways and similar
areas to allow for the thickness of the sod.
best grade (#1) of sod available. If sod arrives stacked on a pallet, try to lay it
out as soon as possible. Cover palletized sod with a tarp (to help keep the sun and
wind off) until you get it laid.
side up! (-;
to stretch the sod while laying it, in fact, bunch it up and keep the seams
butted together as tightly as possible. Fill any gaps on the edges with shredded and
screened topsoil to help hold moisture. Exposed edges dry out the fastest.
cuts with a sharp bowie knife, hatchet or square-nosed spade.
thoroughly and often (every day or two) to aid establishment. Curb edges dry out the
Sod webpage under Lawns.
FOLDED PIECES OF SOD
Sod strips that were folded and stacked on pallets at the sod farm during
harvesting. Some retailers sell sod in 1/2 yard pieces, but most will have
sod strips that are 6 feet long x 1.5 feet wide. Do not leave sod on pallets more than a day or two at the most.
SOD IS SOLD BY THE SQUARE YARD:
3 ft x 3 ft = 9 square feet = 1 square yard
FOR PURCHASING SOD:
Measure the size of the area you wish to sod. For an example let's
say the area is 12 feet x 11 feet.
12 ft x 11 ft = 132 square feet
132 sq ft divided by 9 sq ft =
14.6 square yards
Therefore you would need to buy 15
yards of sod to cover the 12 ft x 11 ft area
thatch in lawns