Avoiding New Lawn Failure

Lawn failure can be prevented, but most homeowners are unaware of how to properly plant and care for a newly established lawn during the first year. Maintaining a new lawn is different than taking care of an established lawn, so keep the following tips in mind when planting a new lawn.

Preparing for a New Lawn

The technique is similar when planting a seed or sod lawn. First, it's important to kill existing weeds before planting. You can do this by spraying a non-selective herbicide a month prior to planting. You may want to repeat this process two weeks before planting.

In addition to using a herbicide, you may also want to test the soil's pH level. If the pH level is imbalanced, you'll need to adjust it before planting. This is because poor soil quality can make it difficult for new lawns to become established. If the pH level is too low, add lime. If it's too high, add aluminum sulfate.

It's also important to cultivate the top two inches of the soil. If you need to, you can fix the grade to ensure that it slopes gradually away from any buildings. You'll then need to add two inches of finely sifted compost to the planting area. Once you've applied the compost, you'll need to rake and smooth the area where you're going to plant.

Planting and Caring for a New Sod Lawn

It's crucial to plant sod the same day that it is purchased. This is because it's more difficult for old sod to establish itself. You will also need to plant sod at the right time for your area. For instance, cool season grass sod should be installed in the mid-spring to early to mid-fall, while warm season sod grass needs to be planted in late spring to late summer. Planting your lawn at the correct time helps the grass actively grow.

Once you've installed the sod lawn, you will need to avoid walking on it for up to a month. You will also need to wait a month before mowing the lawn. Remember that new sod lawns need to be watered twice a day for the first two weeks, once a day for the next four weeks, and three times a week for the first year. It's important to note that under watering is one of the leading causes of lawn failure, so make sure that your new lawn is receiving the appropriate amount of water. Although it's almost impossible to excessively water your new lawn, don't have the sprinkler on all day.

To prevent weeds from developing, apply a pre-emergent herbicide to the new lawn six weeks after planting. Using this type of herbicide any earlier may interfere with the new sod establishing itself.

Planting and Caring for a New Seed Lawn

Similar to new sod lawns, it's extremely difficult to overwater new seed lawns. You must water a newly seeded lawn at least three times a day; however, it may be better to water it four or five times a day. The best way to water a seed lawn is to run a sprinkler for 10 to 15 minutes on all parts of the lawn. Although grass seed cannot dry out, you may want to spread straw over the new grass seed. This can help keep the lawn moist between waterings.

With a new seed lawn, you'll have to wait six weeks to two months before mowing. You'll also want to wait two months before applying a pre-emergent herbicide because if done any earlier, you may prevent the lawn from sprouting.

If you're having trouble planting a sod or seed lawn, ask a local lawn care service for some assistance. They will be able to help you achieve the lawn you want.

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