Healthy lawns require a plethora of microorganisms beneath the soil to support the growth of the grass. Although it may seem like a lot of work, planting a new lawn on bare soil can be a blessing in disguise. You have the chance to correct soil imbalances and establish native grasses that grow best in your climate. Prepare your planting area at least one week in advance.
Test pH of soil and amend with lime or sulfur as necessary. Most types of lawn grass prefer slightly acidic soil in a pH range of 6.0 to 7.5. A pH of 8.0 or above indicates alkaline soil, which may necessitate a sulfur additive. Numbers below 6.0 indicate too much acidity and require ground limestone be added to the soil.
Remove large debris from soil, including sticks, stones and any pieces of trash.
Loosen the top 2 to 3 inches of soil throughout the entire yard. Use a hand tiller or rototiller to break up any large clumps of dirt and aerate the topsoil.
Mix in a 1-to-2-inch layer of compost or manure to your soil. This will provide the essential nutrients for your grass to flourish and fill in the lawn quickly.
Rake the soil into a smooth surface, and be sure the level of dirt is even throughout.
Wet the soil with a hose approximately 24 hours in advance for easy planting of sod or plugs. Seeds also benefit when planted in moist substrate.