Planting a new lawn is a task that should not be undertaken lightly. Failure to properly prepare your soil can result in an unhealthy and uneven lawn. Prior to planting, you have a fresh canvas to work with that can be fertilized and graded to perfection. While planting a lawn may seem like a monumental chore, it can be accomplished fairly easily by following a few simple steps. With a little preparation, you can achieve a lush and healthy lawn that will last for years with only minimal care.
Prepare the Lawn
Have your soil tested. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture funds a nationwide system of cooperative extension offices that can help you set up a soil test. The soil test will tell you the pH value of your soil as well as the amount of phosphorus, potassium and nitrogen.
Correct the pH value of your soil as needed. Most lawn grasses grow best in soil with a pH value between 6.0 and 7.0. If your soil test revealed a lower pH, add 50 to 100 pounds of ground limestone per 1,000 square feet of lawn for each point that your pH value needs to be raised. If you have a high pH value, add 20 pounds of elemental sulfur per 1,000 square feet of lawn for every point that you need to lower your pH value. You may also add a starter fertilizer to your lawn to increase nitrogen levels if your soil test revealed a lack of this nutrient.
Till the lawn with a rotary tiller. If you have clay soil, mix in compost, topsoil or peat. Thoroughly combine the soil so that it is consistent to a depth of at least six inches.
Grade the lawn with a garden rake so that it slopes about 2 percent away from the house and other buildings on the lot. Eliminate any low spots where water may pool, and strive for a smooth and even surface throughout the lawn area.
Plant the Lawn
Select a lawn seed mix that is appropriate to your climate. Look for a grass that will grow well with the temperatures, seasons and sunlight that your yard will experience. Read the guidelines on the bag carefully and take note of the germination time, required pounds per square feet and preferred planting season. In cool-season climates, late summer and early fall are the best planting times. In warm-season climates, the best time to plant is late spring.
Load a seed spreader with half of the seed needed for the area you are covering. Apply the seed to the lawn evenly in one direction. Fill the seed spreader with the second half of the seed and apply this in the opposite direction, making a crisscross pattern. This will ensure even application of the seed.
Brush the surface of the soil lightly with a fan rake to work the seeds into the soil. Fill a lawn roller halfway with water and cover the lawn a final time.
Water the lawn enough to wet the soil to a depth of about six inches. After this first watering, continue to keep the soil moist to a depth of one inch until germination.
Cut your lawn for the first time when the grass is three to four inches tall.
About this Author
Mandi Rogier is a freelance writer who enjoys writing about a wide range of topics. She works regularly on web content, writing for Demand Studios as well as Associated Content. She previously worked at Walt Disney World and enjoys writing travel content that makes use of her extensive knowledge of Orlando theme parks.