Preparing your lawn soil

Preparing your lawn soil

Creating and maintaining a good lawn is always going to be hard, but if you are ready for the work involved, then the results are always worth it. Assuming that you have prepared all the tools you will need in advance, the first step is preparing a good environment for the lawn grass to be planted next.

The soil that is underneath your lawn will essentially be a very important factor in the success or failure of your lawn. Therefore, it needs to be as good an environment as possible for the lawn grass roots to thrive. It should be porous enough for the lawn grass roots and water to penetrate, up to a depth of roughly a foot, and it should be nutrient rich and balanced in pH value.

If you are planning on replacing your lawn, get rid of the old topsoil first, by using a combination of spade and lawn edger (to slice down and mark segments of the soil for the spade to do its job).

Correcting soil pH value

Test your soil’s pH level to find out the value. Acidic soil is often found in areas with high rainfall, while alkaline soils are found in areas with dry climates. The best soil is always pH balanced, so if your soil is too acidic, adding lime can reduce the acidity; if too alkaline, add iron sulfate.

Reducing water runoff by adding soil conditioners

Soil conditioners/amendments can change the quality of the soil’s physical character, allowing better drainage as well as water retention. The cheapest organic soil conditioners are usually raw sawdust or tree bark, although these would need extra nitrogen to feed the soil organisms that will help to decompose them. Mix the soil amendments with the topsoil thoroughly, until they are well blended. It’s important to keep the soil + amendments moist for at least a month before you add the lawn grass. This is to prevent excess salinity from forming in the soil that would hinder plant growth.

Adding soil nutrients

Adding the macro nutrients like NPK fertilizer, is important to sustain the lawn grass in the initial phase of growth. If you live in an area with high rainfall, it might be a good idea to add extra potash and iron sulphate. 10 pounds of potassium chloride and/or iron sulphate per 1000 square feet of soil is usually sufficient – work them into the soil carefully.

Preparing the seedbed

Smoothen the seedbed with a rake until it’s nice and flat. A slight fall or incline from pavements or concrete built-up areas will enhance drainage when it rains, since water will be pouring from these locations; 6-12 inches per 1000 feet will provide better rainfall drainage. Once the seedbed is really flat and smooth, firm it up with a roller, making a couple of passes. Rolling can sometimes expose previously unnoticed low spots in the seedbed.

Watering the seedbed

The whole lawn needs to be kept adequately moist for up to a month (in many cases), in order for the lawn grass seeds to be able to establish themselves. Therefore regular, daily watering is important. You may have already invested in a lawn sprinkler system – Use it.

Worried if the soil is ok or not? You may wish to test the readiness of the soil with a simple test – Sow a few cucumber or radish seeds which tend to sprout within a few days. If the sprouts develop normal leaves, your soil is as good as any other for growing lawn grass.

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