Landmark's Tips for Planting a New Lawn
While spring is an excellent time to
start a new lawn, late summer or early
fall is even better. Annual weeds are
much less aggressive then.
Working the Soil
Small areas can be prepared "the
old-fashioned way" by turning the soil
over with a shovel. Shake out all the
grass clumps and weeds, and pick out all
the rocks and roots as you go.
A rotary tiller can save your back, but
expect more weeds to come up in your
lawn if you go this route. All the small
weed roots will still be in the soil
after tilling. While most will be buried
and may never come up, many will. If you
do not have a tiller, they are available
at any rental store. Till to a depth of
6 to 8 inches.
Improving the Soil
Many homes in this area must deal with a
heavy clay soil. Adding sand and organic
matter (peat moss, leaves, compost,
manure, etc.) will break up the clay,
create air spaces, and increase moisture
Adding the same organic matter to sandy
soils will bring them up to par also.
Some homeowners decide to skip the next
two paragraphs; to just throw a little
fertilizer on and broadcast the seed.
THIS IS A MISTAKE. You could end up
doing the whole job over again. A simple
soil test will put you on track and set
your mind at ease.
Testing the Soil
it yourself kits are available at
Landmark, or soil samples can be brought
to Landmark for testing. The Court House
in Port Washington also has kits for
sale which must then be send to Madison
for testing (this will take about two
Adjusting Your Soil
After the soil test, you will know if
your soil needs a PH correction. Most
grasses prefer slightly acid soil (a PH
of about 6.0 - 6.5). If your soil is too
acidic (below these numbers), you will
have to add lime. Spread the lime at a
rate of 4 lbs. / 100 square feet for
every point of PH below 6.5. If your
soil is higher than these numbers, it is
too alkaline and you will have to add
sulfur. Spread sulfur at the rate of 1
lb. / 100 square feet for every point of
PH above 6.5.
After the test you will also know if
your soil is deficient in nitrogen,
phosphorous or potash, and to what
degree. After fertilizer and lime or
sulfur is spread on soil, it must all be
worked in. This time a tiller is the
best way to go, if possible.
Leveling the Surface
Start by raking the surface, breaking
the clumps, and picking up the stones.
Use a roller or drag a weighted board or
ladder over the surface to level and
compact the soil somewhat. Soak the soil
thoroughly and let dry. Loosen, rake,
roll or drag until you are satisfied
with the way it looks.
Whatever you do, after all this work, do
not buy a grass seed mix with more than
25% annual rye. This is the type of mix
usually found in drug stores, grocery
stores, and department stores. Don't be
disappointed -- buy from Landmark or any
other reputable dealer. Spread the seed
using a drop or broadcast spreader. Both
are available as loaners, free of
charge, when buying seed or fertilizer
Always spread seed in two passes, at
right angles. This avoids a striped
look. 1 lb. should cover approximately
200 square feet. Rake or tamp seed
lightly to get good contact with soil,
just barely covering it. DO NOT BURY!
THIS IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT! SEEDS NEED
LIGHT TO GROW!
Mulching with straw is a good idea, but
keep it light. Use one bale to cover
1000 square feet (25 x 40).
WATER! WATER! WATER!
cannot over-emphasize the importance of
water. Give frequent light watering
DAILY, not once a day drenching. ONCE
SEEDS SPROUT, THEY MUST NOT DRY OUT
UNTIL SUFFICIENT ROOTS HAVE FORMED TO
SUPPORT THE PLANT. When grass length
nears two inches, roots will have
developed, the blades shade the soil,
and longer less frequent watering is
Start mowing when grass is 3 1/2 inches
tall. Cut to 2 1/2 inches. It is very
important that the blade of the mower is
sharp! A dull blade now could pull the
tender plants up instead of cutting
them. Leave clippings on the grass, but
use common sense. Piles of clippings
will smother your lawn and create an
unsightly appearance. When returning
from vacation, it's best to cut no more
than 1/3 of the grass's height, using a
grass catcher to avoid the rows of
clippings. Cutting more than 1/3 of the
grass's height stresses the plant,
leaving it more susceptible to pests,
drought and disease.
If you have questions about anything
on this page, please feel free to ask