In order for lawn grass to flourish it must be sown on soil that is in excellent condition. It is important to make sure that your soil is in top condition before you begin growing your lawn as making changes once the lawn has been planted will be more difficult. There are a number of things you can do for this early spring lawn care to improve your soil such as improving drainage, adding fertilizer or organic material, releasing packed in soil or repositioning.
Check the Grade
It is important to check the grade of your soil before making any changes. The surface of the soil should fall away from your residence in all directions, about 1 foot for per 100 feet. This is because water may accumulate if the grade is flat, or run away if the grade is vertical.
You can fix minor grade problems such as lumps, holes and dips manually with standard gardening tools. Major adjustments will involve the use of industrial tools which is costly and disruptive. You should consult a landscape architect or professional service if you need changes made with industrial machinery.
There are a number of solutions available if re-grading is not possible. Building terraces can change the terrain to produce flat or smoothly areas in a steep place. Also you can build drainage in sites which suffer from very damp conditions.
Grading Your Yard
For a lawn to prosper it requires soil that is rich in nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. You can test the mineral content of your soil by sending samples to a soil testing company. Most lawn grasses like a neutral pH between 6.5 to 7.5. The results of the soil test will tell you how much sulphur or limestone you need to add to balance the pH of your soil. Your results will also point out any nutrient deficiencies in the soil and recommend the proper changes you can make to make sure improvement.
Before adding supplements to your soil decide whether you are working with clay, sand or loam as this is a reason in selecting the right grass type. If your soil has a lot of clay or sand, you need a 2 inch layer of organic matter (compost, peat or manure) before adding any other supplement. Otherwise spread a 3 inch coating of good quality topsoil and mix it into your soil well.
Put the supplements advised by your soil test over the soil and dig to a depth of 6 inches. If your test was in the typical pH range, dig the soil to loosen it, and then spread a fertiliser over the area. Use an organic fertiliser such as processed manure. After incorporating the supplements, rake and level the surface.
Oklahoma Gardening's Kim Rebek visits the Oklahoma Vegetable Research Station in Bixby to talk with OSU professor Lynn Brandenburger about how to improve the very low levels of organic matter often found in Oklahoma soils.
It is important to remove as many weeds as you can from the soil before planting for your early spring lawn. There are many ways to kill weeds, the most environmentally friendly is a process called solarization. You can do Solarization by placing a sheet of clear plastic tightly over newly dug and watered soil. Leave the plastic in place for around four weeks. Solarization will destroy all the weeds and seedlings in the top layer of soil. It needs very hot sun. Therefore, You can use this technique limited to hot times of the year.
Another way to cut weeds is by repetitive digging. The first time you dig will kill established weeds while at the same time encouraging new weeds to grow. In about two weeks a new crop of weeds will emerge, and destroy these by doing another digging. Two or three diggings in a row will kill most weeds.
It is essential to pay attention to the state of your soil before planting lawn seed. Priming the soil properly will guard against unwanted problems such as weeds, poor drainage and lack of fertility, ensuring you enjoy a thriving and gorgeous lawn for years to come.