Planning and installing a new lawn can be both rewarding and exciting. It can also bring disappointment if steps are missed or unknown in preparing the location. Soil conditioning and preparation are the most important steps to ensuring a lawn's success and health for years to come. Perform a soil sample analysis in advance of the new lawn project. The soil analysis report provides the information and recommendations needed to prepare the soil. Once the suggested soil amendments are in place, the site is ready for seed or sod.
Preparing Soil for a New Lawn
Acquire a soil sample from various different spots in the location where the new lawn will be installed. A pint of soil is adequate for obtaining a good test. It should consist of soil specimens taken from depths of 4 to 6 inches from 10 or more locations before you mix them together. Remove any twigs or debris from the soil sample and coordinate with the county extension service to have it analyzed. Results from the soil test will arrive in the mail a couple of weeks later, and will detail any soil deficiencies that may have been identified, as well as recommendations and quantities for amendments to be added.
Remove all weeds and existing grass in the area before planting. If the site is a new construction, or will require an extensive leveling effort, have the top soil removed and set aside while the ground beneath it is leveled. Re-top the area with the old top soil, and further prepare the area by loosening the top soil 2 to 3 inches deep.
Add amendments and nutrients to the soil according to the soil analysis. Till the area with a garden tiller to mix and distribute the amendments evenly. The location should be cleared of rocks, building debris and any visible vegetation to prevent the new lawn's roots from encountering them later.
Wet the amended and leveled soil completely before the installation of sod grass. The idea is to promote the root growth of the newly planted grass becoming established as soon as possible into the existing soil to help ensure its survival. By wetting the soil beforehand, the sod will help to contain the moisture.