How to Plant Your Own Lawn

Overview

A lot of the work that goes into correctly establishing a lawn happens well before planting day. The more advance planning you do, the better your chances of success. Gathering information about your area of the country and your lawn's particular environment lets you create the right conditions for the seeds you'll plant. Getting them off to the right start avoids problems in the future.

Preparation

Step 1

Find out if you live in the cool season, warm season or transition zone, which will guide you in selecting grasses.

Step 2

Take note of the conditions in your planting area: how much sun it gets per day, areas of shade, how well-draining it is and so on.

Step 3

Contact your local extension office to get instructions on how to have a basic soil test performed on the area you'll be planting. They might have supplies to help you collect and contain the samples (hollow soil probes and container cartons).

Step 4

Follow the instructions you receive, collecting soil samples and delivering them for testing.

Step 5

Contact your local extension office for advice on the kinds of grass that have proven to be good growers in your area and how those grasses are likely to perform given your soil condition and planting environment.

Step 6

Choose the kind of grass or mix of grasses appropriate to your circumstance.

Step 7

Research and decide whether you'll use seed or sod. Some grasses grow better from sod (for instance, St. Augustine), others are better grown from seed (ryegrass, for instance). Seed is less expensive, but soil might erode before seed is established.

Step 8

Remove existing growth at the site with an herbicide, according to package directions.

Step 9

Remove non-soil material such as construction remnants, stone and rocks.

Step 10

Thoroughly water the site and let it drain for two days.

Step 11

Roto-till the soil deeply, then water the soil and let it drain again.

Step 12

Add soil amendments demanded by your soil condition and the needs of the grass you've decided on. This might mean adding organic matter, like compost or manure, or materials to increase or decrease drainage. Apply the amendments to the top of the soil.

Step 13

Work amendments in deeply, then level the soil by raking it.

Step 14

Water the soil so it settles and rake again to get rid of rocks or gravel.

Step 15

Buy the chosen seed or sod.

Using Seed

Step 1

Seed across your lawn in one direction, using half the seed. Seed in the perpendicular direction using the rest of the seed.

Step 2

Use a roller over the seeded area.

Step 3

Apply about an 1/8 inch of compost or manure.

Step 4

Briefly water the area three or four times a day without creating any puddles. Do this every day until the seeds germinate.

Step 5

Water less frequently, but a bit more deeply after germination. Understand the needs of the grass type you've chosen.

Using Sod

Step 1

Apply a high-phosphorous fertilizer to the soil. Don't work it in. Roll over the soil.

Step 2

If the area isn't straight, run a string across the site as a guide.

Step 3

Moisten the soil.

Step 4

Lay sod in rows in brick-wise fashion so that the last strip does not have to be cut less than at least a half-foot wide to fit. Start with the longest straight segment and lay the sod rectangles as close together as possible, making cuts to the sod as you go to get around curves. On slopes, start at the bottom and lay sod perpendicular to the hill. Nail stakes into the sod on steep inclines.

Step 5

Roll over the sod in lengthwise direction, then crosswise direction.

Step 6

Water the sod immediately, then briefly water the sod three or four times a day for about two weeks so it doesn't dry out.

Step 7

Water daily once the sod is anchored in the soil, decreasing to every couple of days as the sod is established.

Things You'll Need

  • Pencil and paper
  • Materials for soil testing: tube probes and containers
  • Herbicide
  • Rototiller
  • Fertilizer, compost or lime
  • Rake
  • Seed or sod
  • Seed spreader
  • Roller
  • Compost or composted steer manure
  • String
  • Sharp sod-cutting tool such as knife or shears
  • Nails or stakes (optional)

References

  • Arizona Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Manual: Lawns
  • American-Lawns.com: Laying Sod for a New Lawn
  • All About Lawns: Planting with Sod

Who Can Help

  • The Lawn Institute: Growing Zones Map
Keywords: planting a lawn, seeding a lawn, installing sod

About this Author

S. Johnson is a freelance writer and editor of both print and film media who specializes in making the complex clear. A freelancer for over 20 years, Johnson has had the opportunity to cover many topics ranging from construction to music to celebrity interviews, learning a lot and talking to many interesting people.