Winter has turned into spring and anxious homeowners are eager to get outside and work on their most prized possession, the lawn. But how do you properly prepare your lawn to ensure the best results? Let’s look into the proper way to prepare, use a broadcast spreader to amend your soil, fertilize and spread the grass seed to make your lawn look lush and green for many years to come.
Demo & Analyzing the Soil
You may think that spreading grass seed on an unprepared lawn will work. While some of the seed will sprout, a good deal of it will be blown or washed away or just will not take hold. Ensuring that your soil is prepared is the first layer of making a successful lawn.
First, you need to take off the top layer of old grass and weeds at the roots leaving a nice, dark layer of soil. Next you need to test the pH balance of the soil. Each soil type throughout the county will have varying amounts of acid or alkaline and if your soil leans too far in one direction, nothing will grow so knowing if you need to add lime or sulfur will help you later when preparing the soil. The last step in the initial phase is to remove any large stones and to rototill the soil so there are no large patches of baked dirt or clumps that would not be able to be raked by garden tools.
Amending the Soil with a Broadcast Spreader
Once you have removed the old growth, stones and tested your soil composition; it’s now time to start adding the components that will turn your normal, everyday soil into grass growing superfood. Start by adding 1” of sand on top of your prepared soil base and incorporating it into the soil with your rototiller. Follow up the sand with another inch of compost to help add those essential nutrients your new lawn will crave.
Remember your pH test from earlier? Now it’s time to add what your soil needs. If your soil is too acidic, you will need to add lime. Too alkaline? Then you can add some peat moss if the soil is just a little alkaline. But you may need to add sulfur if your soil is very alkaline. Be sure to use a broadcast spreader to evenly spread this material and avoid any bare spots. Finish up by lightly raking the lime or sulfur into the soil to help incorporate it evenly.
Seeding and Final Steps
That time you’ve been waiting for? Well it’s now here! Now you can get out your trusty hand or walk-behind spreader and fill it up with your choice of grass seed. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application to achieve a uniform, even distribution of your seed.
Once the seed is spread out, lightly rake it into the soil using an upside down plastic rake to gently work it into the soil. You don’t want to create clumps of seed and have grass in some areas and not others! The final step is to keep your lawn watered to encourage growth. Immediately after you have spread the seed, be sure to water the lawn 2-3 times a day for 5-10 minutes avoiding any pooling of water. Once the seed has germinated, continue to water once a day for 15-30 minutes, preferably in the morning. Watering in the morning minimizes evaporation and avoids nighttime watering which could encourage mold and fungal diseases.
Achieving the perfect lawn can seem like a lengthy process, but the hard work you put in up front will greatly increase the chance your lawn will be the pride of your neighborhood. Properly preparing and testing your soil allows you to decide what elements needs to be added to your soil to make it habitable for new seed and using the proper tools will make for a uniform application of minerals and seed for an even coat.
Once your new lawn has come in, you can spend many summer and fall nights enjoying the fruits of your labor and maybe even wondering how you can improve your lawn for the next year!