Lawn Installation – Soil Preparation

Doing it yourself….is this the right choice?

There are so many things to consider, as well as steps to be taken, when installing a new lawn and if you’re not willing to do or think about them all then you should probably not install your own lawn. Preparing your soil, investigating your soil type, knowing your climate, selecting your seed, planting your lawn and then taking care of your lawn are just a few of the steps to installing and maintaining your own lawn.

Preparing the soil

During construction of my home the excavators placed many piles of dirt at different locations around the house. Some piles were topsoil, which they took from the top few feet of my lot, the others were full of rocks and stone and were not very good for planting any type of grass seed. The piles of stone and rock soil were spread out first and created the basic contour of the yard. Then the topsoil piles were spread out over the base soil and that is what I would use to plant my grass. Luckily I did not have very many big rocks to contend with so after the excavators left I was ready to prepare my soil for planting.

The first step was to smooth out the bumps, dents and track marks left the heavy machinery. To do this we used an old mattress box spring loaded with concrete blocks for weight. We pulled it behind my garden tractor over and over and over again. The think you have to think about is whatever shape your lawn is at this final preparation is exactly the shape it is going to be in after the grass grows. It is much easier to shape your yard before grass starts to grow. In addition to a box spring I have heard that an old piece of chain link fence will to the trick as well .

After pulling the box spring around the yard then the time came for raking. First we used a pull behind rake that was about 6′ long and set at an angle. This plashed the yard debris into rows were we were able to scoop then up and place them in the trailer of the tractor. If you have the money then there are people that have large yard rakes the actually grind up the top 6″ of soil and collect the rocks for disposal. I would imagine this is the most ideal way of removing and preparing the soil but get ready to fork out a few thousand dollars for a 2-3 acre lot.

Hand raking is the final process we did before we spreading the seed. Hand raking removes the smaller rocks and fine debris that the pull behind rake doesn’t get. Get ready for a few blisters and aching back after this step. We had a two-acre lot to contend with so by the time it was done everyone was ready for a long break.

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