A Guide To Preparing Soils For New Lawns
No matter the situation or reasons for wanting to install a new lawn at our homes, a newly turfed yard area adds tremendous beauty and landscape value to our home environment. Not to mention the added resale value to the property itself, when the yard has naturally turfed lawn areas.
Today’s modern and highly improved lawn varieties are another reason to replace an existing lawn which may be in poor condition. No matter the reason, whether to improve an existing lawn, to tame a wild jungle garden etc, installing a new lawn is a great improvement for any yard.
The most important aspect to consider when laying any new lawn, is also the one aspect which many people often neglect the most, which can then lead to many poor health problems in the future for our new lawns, which we had such high hopes for when we installed them. And that one most important aspect of all is our lawn soils.
Begin Soil Preparation In Advance
The yard area which is to be used for the new lawn should be prepared weeks in advance of laying any new sod. This gives the soil a chance to break down any nutrients that were added to the soil prior to the lawn being laid, as well as giving opportunity to allow any weed seeds that are dormant in the soil to propagate so they can be removed by us before the sod goes down.
Whether old turf needs to be removed or the yard area to be used needs to be cleaned up in any way, we do this first, and ensure the lawn area is completely clean of all debris, rocks, weeds and all other foreign matter, until we are left with a clean working area where the lawn is to be laid.
Soil evaluation should be considered at this time also. Any poor soils can have new top soil added at this time, while the weeks of rest period for the lawn area will also help in the soil compaction and levelling before the sod is put down.
Likewise, sandy or clay based soils can be further improved at this optimal time.
Natural organic or manure based soil improvers could be added at this time also, and raked into the soil and watered in. Once again, the rest time for the soil will aid in breaking down these valuable nutrients into the soil before the sod goes down. Also, new lawns should never be laid on top of freshly manured soils, as this has the potential to burn roots of the sod. So allow time for these fertilizers to break down first.
During the lead up of a few weeks prior to the lawn being installed, keep the soil moist, which allows the added organic supplements to decompose, but also allows weeds to germinate in the lawn area. We want these weed seeds to germinate in the soil, so that the weeds can be removed from the soil before the lawn is installed. Which is far better than waiting until our new lawn is in our yard flourishing and then we see those dreaded weeds popping up out of nowhere, only to be treated with a herbicide later. Best to remove weeds in the soil prior to the lawn going down, and to have a plan to do just that.
Levelling out of the soil would also be done in this time, to ensure as flat and even a surface area as possible. The occasional watering or rainfall at this time would also help to compact the soil a little, while showing us where any soft spots are in the area, which may need to be filled or levelled further before the new sod is installed. Ultimately, a heavy roller should be used for best results in compacting the soil so that it is flat and even, without any soft spots that compress under foot when walked upon.
Final Soil Preparation Prior To Laying New Sod
After we have done all soil preparations weeks prior, and allowed the soil to rest, and removed any weeds which may have emerged in the meantime, it is now time for final preparation before the new sod goes down.
And at this late stage, all that is required is really a final levelling out of the soil, and soil compaction if it hasn’t been done already – using a heavy roller which can be hired from a hire shop. These rollers are often have cylindrical drums that are filled with water by the homeowner to achieve their desired weight, and then pushed over the soil area to aid in compaction.
Ideally the final soil preparation should be done one day prior to laying the new sod. That way we are all prepared to lay the sod, without any distractions whatsoever on the day it arrives at our property.
Of all the new lawns I’ve installed over many years, I’ve found this system to be most beneficial to aid in gaining the best possible results when laying all new lawns. I’ve also witnessed the results of using the quick and easy methods, and the difference in end results of lawn quality can be amazing to see.
Proper soil preparation which begins weeks prior to laying any new sod has so many outstanding benefits for so many years into the future, and should be the only way a new lawn is planned and prepared for in any yard.
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