When planting a new lawn or refurbishing an existing one, the most important step is to prepare the soil. Even if grass is already growing, it is advisable to start from scratch by rototilling the new lawn area and removing the existing grass. Preparing the soil before you plant will ensure that your new lawn will grow and thrive for many years to come.
Submit a soil sample to your local County Extension Agent. They will test it and recommend adding either lime or sulfur to your soil to correct its pH and the correct quantities to incorporate into your new lawn area. The County Extension Agent can also recommend the type of grass seed or sod that works best in your area.
Remove any debris and large rocks from the new lawn area.
Spread any soil amendments recommended by your County Extension Agent on the surface of the soil in the new lawn area. Add a 2-inch layer of compost or peat moss and a 1- to 2-inch layer of sand to the surface of the lawn area.
Rototill the area to loosen the soil and incorporate the soil amendments applied in Step 3.
Rake the lawn area smooth with a garden or landscaping rake. While you are raking the new lawn area, remove any weeds or other vegetation that was uprooted while rototilling. Grade the soil so that it gently slopes away from the house or other buildings on the property. This will help keep water from draining into the basement of these structures.
Water the prepared soil to help it settle.
Wait seven to 10 days before planting grass seed or laying sod. During this period, weed seeds brought to the surface will germinate and begin to grow. Prior to planting the new lawn, spray the weeds with an all-purpose weed killer to keep them from competing with your newly-planted lawn. Apply the herbicide following the manufacturer's recommendations for application method and rates.
Plant the new grass seed or lay the sod three to five days after spraying for weeds.