Growing Guide: Lawns

Lawn Care

Good soil preparation and proper watering for new lawns will reward you with much pleasure and beauty in the years to come. Use these guidelines to ensure your success:

Proper Soil Preparation

  • 1) Remove debris like rocks, sticks, etc. from the area.
  • 2) Ensure that the new lawn area slopes away from the house to ensure proper drainage.
  • 3) Work the soil to at least an 8-10 in depth with a rototiller or by hand for a small area.
  • 4) Add 2-3 inches (or more!) of Top Soil, Peat Moss and/or Back to Earth Compost. Tip: The amount of organic material you add to the soil will directly effect how well your grass will perform for year to come.
  • 5) Add a balanced fertilizer such as Fertilome New Lawn Fertilizer per package directions.
  • 6) Rototill again to a depth of 8-10 inches.
  • 7) Level and smooth the area with a rake, working out lumps, bumps and dips. The finished soil surface should be approximately 1” below walks or driveways to allow for lawn thickness.

Starting from Sod

  • 1) Lay sod as soon as possible after delivery. In hot weather, it should be laid immediately.
  • 2) Begin by laying sod along a straight edge, such as a walkway butting the sod pieces’ joints tightly together but do not overlap them. Alternate each row so the joints are staggered like a row of bricks. Tip: If you are laying sod on a slope, lay the sod across the slope not running down the hill.
  • 3) Use a sharp knife to cut and shape the sod to fit around curves, trees, etc.
  • 4) Water within 30 minutes of starting the installations- even if you have not finished laying all the sod. Once the installation is complete, check every roll to make sure the sod is in full contact with the soil and there are no air pockets between the sod and the soil.
  • 5) Water again after all the sod is laid, wetting the soil to a depth of 6-8 inches. Tip: Pull a corner of the sod back and push a long screwdriver into the soil. If it doesn’t push in easily and have moisture along the first 6-8 inches, the soil needs more water.

Starting from Seed

  • 1) After completing the proper soil preparation, follow the recommended seeding rate and use a seed spreader to spread ¼ of the seed over the entire lawn area.
  • 2) Repeat 3 more times, each time using ¼ of the seed. Go in a different direction each time to ensure even coverage of seed.
  • 3) Rake lightly to cover the seed with a thin ¼ inch layer of soil.
  • 4) After all the seeds are covered, use a fine spray to water to a depth of 2-4 inches. The soil will need to be kept evenly moist in order for the seeds to germinate. Tip: Depending on the weather you may need to water 203 times per day. Do not let the soil dry out.
  • 5) After the grass blades sprout, continue to water a couple of times per day until the grass is established.

Care and Maintenance

  • 1) In cool weather, water new sod daily and in hot weather, twice daily. Do this for the first 10-14 days, watering just to the point of saturation. The lawn should never feel squishy. Tip: Water in the morning to minimize evaporation and to take advantage of the turf’s natural growing cycle.
  • 2) Keep all pets and foot traffic off the grass for the first 10 days and to a minimum for the next 4 weeks.
  • 3) Wait at least 14 days after installation or when the sod is rooted (you can’t pull up the corners) before mowing. Bluegrass and Park Blend should be moved to a height of 1 ½- 2 inches; Bermuda Grass should be cut to 1-1 ½ inches. Tip: The higher you leave your lawn the less water it will need to stay green and healthy.
  • 4) After the first 10-14 days, cut back watering to 2-3 times a week depending on the weather. A new lawn must be kept evenly moist to establish a strong root system. Tip: Watering deeply and infrequently will train your lawn to develop an extensive root system. Your lawn will have a larger “soil-water” bank to draw from and will make it more resistant to disease and hot weather problems.
  • 5) Maintain an adequate fertilization schedule. Grasses are heavy feeders and will need 3 or more applications per year. A good rule of thumb is to apply slow release fertilizers around the holidays: Easter, Memorial Day, Labor Day and Halloween. The Halloween application should be a good quality winterizer such as Fertilome Lawn Winterizer. Tip: Avoid high Nitrogen fertilizer application during hot weather (Independence Day) as the lawn will be susceptible to burning and it will only increase the demand for water.