Soil prep for laying down a good lawn

   / Soil prep for laying down a good lawn #1  

jim_wilson

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Over the years I've been doing a bunch of work to my property - and I'm finally getting to the point where I can start finishing off some of the lot and laying down what will become the final lawn. In some areas I'm actually going to be bringing the grade up couple of feet - which I'll be doing by stripping the topsoil putting down a layer of fill (removed from another part of the property) and then putting the topsoil down again. Sounds like a lot of work - but I'm trying to avoid having to truck any soil off the property - or into it.

There property used to be a farm many decades ago - and appears to have some pretty deep topsoil in most areas. I have dug down and found that the topsoil layer is at least a foot deep and can go a foot and a half in some places. Under that is layer of medium brown / topsoil mix - and there is glacial till 2 1/2 to 3 feet down (4ft in some places).

The existing topsoil retains water pretty good - which makes me believe it has a high clay content. I know driving over it with my tractor after the recent rains - I get the soil neatly packed into the grooves in the tires. I'm pretty sure if I grabbed a handful of moist topsoil I could make a ball out of it ( I remember reading somewhere this was a good test of how much clay content there was in a topsoil).

So my question is this: what if anything should I do to prep the soil to put down a good lawn? I seem to remember reading somewhere that mixing topsoil that has high clay content with sand will help the grass to grow better because the wet soil will rot the roots eventually.

I don't really care if I end up with a golf course quality lawn - but that would be nice. I'm mostly interested in what "proper" prep is to have a nice healthy long lasting lawn.
 
   / Soil prep for laying down a good lawn #2  

Midniteoyl

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My last clay soil lawn I put down a lot of peat moss (like 2") then some compost with manure.. Tilled it all in 12" deep, spread seeds and covered with straw. Had the best lawn in the neighborhood.. :) Doesnt actually take much. Just keep it loose and WELL WATERED until the grass grows in.
 
   / Soil prep for laying down a good lawn
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jim_wilson

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I'm sort of guessing that this soil is full of clay just based on the way I see it retain water and it's properties when it's wet. I was actually wondering about the peat moss and manure thing too.

So you spread like 2" of peat moss - some manure - then tilled it all in up to 12" deep - planted seed and waited?

From what I've read - fall is better for planting seed than during the summer. I'm hoping I can get some of this work done in time to do that.
 
   / Soil prep for laying down a good lawn #4  

Midniteoyl

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Plant in August.. Low weeds, warm soil, plenty of time to establish the yard before winter.

You must water. I watered for 30mins every 2 hours or so.. A little more if it was windy. It will seem like forever before the grass grows them BOOM! Grass :)

Used the best seed you can afford.. I used N&K premium mix..
 
   / Soil prep for laying down a good lawn
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jim_wilson

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I was planning on using a seed called Pearl's Premium which is available out here and supposedly formulated for this climate.

Lawn and Grass Seed for Ultra Low Maintenance Lawns Pearl's Premium

I like the fact that it claims to have low frequency of mowing requirements - and supposedly sends it's roots down deep to avoid drought conditions.

I planted some on a bare patch on my lawn a few years back and was happy with the results.
 
   / Soil prep for laying down a good lawn #6  

Midniteoyl

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Thats fine.. as long as its not the cheapo stuff.. Too many weeds in the mix.
 
   / Soil prep for laying down a good lawn #7  

bcjmmac

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I personally don't think clay soil is an issue with grass as I've never had an issue getting stuff to grow in it as long as it isn't compacted.
I would recommend that you add lime when you are doing the prep - any soil in the NE is likely acidic as we are downwind of all the major polluters. It is also easier to incorporate powdered lime, vice pelletized, at that stage which would save some $$.
I live a bit north of you (NB, Canada). Early Sept is normally the best time to start a lawn up here as you can count on some rain/August is normally fairly dry.

good luck
 
   / Soil prep for laying down a good lawn
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jim_wilson

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Thats fine.. as long as its not the cheapo stuff.. Too many weeds in the mix.

:laughing: Yeah - it's not cheap. One of the selling points they make is that it puts out such a good root system that it crowds out the weeds that are there. In the patch that I planted the stuff in - it did seem to do that.
 
   / Soil prep for laying down a good lawn #9  

srossman

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I just re-seeded my lawn over the last two years and I had a 25 yards of mushroom compost delivered and worked that into the top 2 inches of the soil, spread lime and starter fertilizer, then spread the seed, ran a hand rake over it and put down straw. The area that I did last spring came in amazingly full this spring, and the part that I did this spring I've had to mow three times already.

As other posters have mentioned, water religiously. I bought one of those hose water timers and set it up to water twice a day (early morning and evening) for 20 minutes at a time.

One other product you may want to look at instead of spreading straw, look into Penn-Mulch. It is designed to stay in place better than straw, and also has the fertilizer mixed into it.
 
   / Soil prep for laying down a good lawn #10  

Egon

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Start with a soil analysis and amend as directed. Work organic material into the soil if it is available.make sure it's super smooth, plant the seed and wait.

Remember to keep checking PH adding lime as required. Get recommendations for the proper fertilizer for your area. Apply in spring and late summer with the last application having less nitrogen content. Mow the grass high and let the clippings fall. (Mulching mower):thumbsup:

Note: Brown thumb Reske's recommendations usually don't follow the norm! And are not guaranteed!
 
 
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