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From Seed or Laying Sod

Seeding is usually the most economical method to establish a new lawn. It can be successfully started from anytime during the growing season but mid-summer is hardly ideal for seeding new lawns, since hot weather dries soil quickly.  Early fall is the best time for seeding with cool-season grasses.  Early spring is the best time for warm-season grasses.

In seeding a new lawn Lite Gardener will:

  1. Conduct a soil test to determine any requirements for additional nutrients and lime to correct the PH.
  2. Measure the site of the area to calculate how much seed, soil, fertilizer and other materials are needed to establish the lawn.
  3. Remove any old lawn and weeds by sod-cutter and shovel making sure remove the roots  of any weeds
  4. Dig over the area to a depth of 6″ using a Tiller, removing all weed, concrete, rock construction scrap and large stones
  5. Add enough good quality soil to provide at least 4 to 6″ for the grass to grow in. . The soil will include a balance of rich black topsoil, decayed organic materials such as peat, moss and compost incorporated at 1 to 3 yards³ per 1000 feet².
  6. Apply fertilizer and lime as indicated by the soil test. Fertilizer, Lime and organic amendments should be mixed the native soil at least 6″ deep using the tiller. This ensures that the microbes will be in the zone as the grass seed germinates.
  7. Roll the surface   Rake the soil to level it out, removing any debris and rocks.
  8. Using a lawn roller pack down the freshly seedbed.  The lawn roller applies the correct amount of pressure, and ensures a level seedbed surface. Roll the entire seedbed three passes: first going east to west, secondly north to south. Once the entire surface is level, the Lite gardener will give it one final lighting rolling; and then lightly loosen up the top half” of soil with a rake in preparation for seeding
  9. Apply a top quality seed mix consisting of 4 varieties of seed using a spreader set to apply the seeds at a rate about 3 lbs of seed per 1000 ft².   Seed the entire area in two passes: first in zigzag pattern going east to west and then secondly in a similar pattern but going north to south. This will help to minimize any possible gaps in the application. Any gaps after application will be filled in by hand seeding.
  10. Using a rake lightly push and pull the soil back and forth to cover the seed with a thin layer, ensuring that the seeds are buried no deeper than ¼”.
  11. Lightly roll the soil surface again to ensure good contact between seed and soil. For this process roller will be filled only halfway with water.
  12.  Provide detailed instructions on watering. Watering the seedbed is the most important step.
    • Make sure enough water is applied to wet the soil down to at least 6″ deep.
    • Apply water gently – don’t wash the seed away. The soil should be kept evenly moist for the soil to hold the seed and for the seed to begin to germinate. If seeds are allowed to dry out dry out, they die.
    • Keep the soil moist by watering lightly a couple of times per day for four weeks. Germination time will vary depending on several factors but generally the various seeds in the mixture will take around 5 to 30 days for complete germination.
    • After the seeds germinate water more heavily but less frequently. The watering frequency will be determined by weather conditions. Germinating seedlings can die in a few hours if they become dry. As the roots grow deeper into the soil gradually decrease the frequency and increase the amount of water to encourage deep rooting.
    • As the new lawn becomes established, It will require less and less moisture to grow. If watering continued everyday, the ground would become too wet rot the young seedlings and inhibit root growth. Try to skipping a day of watering for a week, getting moisture down 8″. If the grass doesn’t dry out, each week increase the period by one day, until watering once a week. Continue this rate for remainder of the growing season.
  13.  During the germination both grass seeds and weeds present in the soil or blown will grow, making hand weeding desirable, but annual weeds will not be back to next year if this is done and there is proper watering to ensure a thick lawn.
  14. Mow the new lawn when it reaches 4″ high, mowing it no lower than 3″. A new lawn needs to time to set deep roots. Additionally this avoids compacted soft soil and dislodging some new grass plants by feet and mower wheels.
  15. Fill thin patches in with seed and water lightly.
  16. The Lite Gardener recommends reseeding in the spring or fall if the grass does not come up well.

Laying Sod

Laying sod is a very popular alternative to growing grass from seeds, because it is an excellent way to get and instantly grass and lush yard. Anytime during the growing season can laying sod but at the mid-summer is less than idea for starting laying sod. Early fall and spring are the best times for laying sod.     Here are the steps the Lite Gardener will take to sod a new lawn.

  1. Measure the square footage of your planned sodding area to determine how much sod, soil, fertilizer and other materials will be need to install the sod.
  2. Remove all of wood, bricks, cement, rocks, stones and debris as well as remove the old lawn and weeds.
  3. Rototill soil 4 to 6″ deep to loosen soil up, and then rake to level out the area and remove rocks, weeds, other debris and smooth out the soil.
  4. Level the soil approximately 1″ below any hard surfaces such as patios, sidewalks and driveways so that when the sod is installed it won’t be higher or lower than the hard surface.
  5. Do a soil test to see if the soil needs to be amended.
  6. Add soil and amendments
  7. Add 1 to 3 yards³ of soil and spread on per 1000 ft² of area and spread fertilizer, lime or sulfur over the loosened soil according to the result of the soil test, at the rate of application recommended by the fertilizer manufacturer.
  8. work the fertilizer in to a depth of 6″ with a rotiller, and rake the soil to level it out.
  9. Roll the lawn with the lawn roller about 1/3 full of water to firm and settle the surface.
  10. Select the right type of sod grass for the area being sodded
  11. Install sod along the longest straight line from back to front.
  12. Unroll the pieces of sod and butting them closely to the edge and each other and corners are flush. Place the sod in long straight row, end to end together lightly but without overlapping and gapping. Lay the sod in a brick pattern to reduce seams. Stagger the pieces so that ends of each row do not line up. Staggering will give the sodded lawn an appearance of being more naturally grown.
  13. Cut sod to fit around sprinklers, trees or in odd shaped areas.
  14. Roll the entire area to make sure sod and soil are in a good contact and to remove air pockets, allowing the sod’s roots to work quickly and help level the area. Start watering immediately after the sod is laid
  15. Ensure that the homeowner is aware of the importance of watering. the success of laying sod  is greatly dependent on watering. Water the lawn is a depth of 6 to 8″everyday for a couple of weeks, making sure the water hits every corner and water according to weather and soil conditions. Watering is preferred early morning. This prevents the mid-day sun from evaporating the water, thus drying out your sod. After two to three weeks, the sod should be rooted in the soil underneath and cut back to a standard lawn watering schedule
  16. Lawn cutting. The Lite Gardener will keep the grass height high for the first few cutting; let it reach a height of 4 to 5″ before moving. Mowing heights should be 3″. Make sure the mower is in good mechanical condition with a sharp blade.
  17. The Lite Gardener recommends that fertilization be repeated every 6 weeks for the remainder of the growing season and, of course,  start our lawn care programs in May to obtain a healthy, green carpet of grass

Going with seed or sod?

Seeding is less expensive than laying sod. But seeded lawn needs long- term care,  frequent watering to keep the seed moist during germination and takes 7 days before the first blade of grass is visible. The first year, it will look positively nasty, with uneven germination, and weed growing faster than the grass. It wouldn’t a lush, green and fully functional lawn for a couple of years. But sodded lawn can be functional in three weeks. Sod require more skill to plant, but it will give faster results than seeding and be used much sooner than seeded lawns. Additionally sod is better suited to sloping areas where seed would be washed away to low areas as a result of rain and watering. Sod also makes it harder for weeds to complete with sod.