Site preparation is key to a healthy lawn, whether that lawn is sod or seed. Using shortcuts will come back to haunt the homeowner in the form of excessive weeds, heavy thatch or poor growing grass. Choosing the best time of year for lawn preparation depends on the type and species of the grass. Contact your local nursery or the agricultural extension service for seasonal plantings of warm and cool weather varieties.
Reduce all vegetative plant growth by applying an herbicide to the lawn preparation area. Mix the herbicide according to label directions. Spray all vegetation on the lawn site. Wait two weeks and reapply to all green growth.
Collect soil samples from several locations around the lawn site. Mix the samples together. Dry the soil. Deliver the soil sample to your local agricultural extension service for analysis.
Break the soil with a rototiller to a depth of 6 to 8 inches.
Remove all rocks and loose vegetation with the garden rake. Grade the soil away from all buildings to an elevation drop of 1 to 2 feet per 100 feet of run.
Apply the recommended organic material, fertilizer and agricultural lime to the lawn site. Incorporate the materials into the soil with the rototiller. Run the rototiller several times over the area to fully mix the material into the soil.
Irrigate the lawn preparation site with 2 to 3 inches of water. The irrigation will settle the soil. Keep the soil moist. The new lawn is now ready to plant, whether it is sod or seed.