New Lawn Care

Landmark’s Tips for Planting a New Lawn

When to Plant
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 retention.
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
Do 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 weeks).

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 from Landmark.
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).

We 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 needed.

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 us.