There are two ways to turf a lawn: laying sod or seed. Laying a new lawn is sometimes necessary due to problems such as thatch, moss, weed infestation and bare patches. A new lawn is a fresh start that will pay dividends in increased curb appeal for your home.
Before any turfing begins, take a soil test to determine what kind of soil you have, the pH of the soil and nutrients in the soil, recommends Jerry Baker in "Jerry Baker's Green Grass Magic." The results of this test and the climate where you live will determine what type of grass to use. Since most lawn grasses grow best when the pH is between 6.0 and 7.0, you may have to adjust the pH of the soil to meet this range.
Soil fertility is another important indicator of how well grass will do on the lawn. The results of the soil test will determine not only what type of starter fertilizer to buy but what type of fertilizer to buy in the future to keep your lawn healthy.
Prepping the Soil
Prepare the lawn before you begin to lay seed or sod. Ensure the lawn slopes away from the house and if does not, it must be graded. In their book, "Lawns," Nick Christians and Ashton Ritchie recommend a 1-foot tall elevation for every 50 feet to ensure water does not accumulate near the foundation of the house. After the grade has been corrected, spread 1 to 2 inches of topsoil over the ground and till it in. Add more topsoil until it measures 4 to 6 inches deep. Let the topsoil settle for a couple of weeks and spray the area with water to see if puddles form, which will indicate a depression that needs to be filled in before seeding.
Seeding or Sodding
On planting day, lightly roll the soil before sowing or laying sod, which will firm up the soil. When seeding, use a hopper to spread the seed in an even manner. When finished, cover the lawn with burlap or another biodegradable material that will break down.
To lay sod, lay the first row out against a straight line, recommends "Taunton's Lawn Guide: Maintaining a Great-Looking Yard," by John C. Fech. Lay the pieces of sod next to each other, staggering the ends so the seams do not line up.
After laying seed and sod, water the lawn thoroughly, at least a half inch, twice a week thereafter.