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A lush, green lawn is a great start to your own backyard haven, but getting it isnt always as easy as you may think. Much depends on your rainfall, heat index, and soil. You will have to decide if you want to seed or sod your lawn. Seed is less expensive, but if you want a lush lawn, you will have to use a lot of seed. Sod is more expensive, but the advantage is you have an instant lawn.

Before you begin, you might want to consider installing a sprinkler system. Now is the time to do the installation, as it will be costlier and a lot more work to do after the grass is in.

Seeded Lawn Prep
If you decide to seed your lawn, first make sure it is free of all, old loose roots and rocks. Most seeds require a gravel base for drainage with black topsoil. You may want to mix a little of the black dirt with the gravel to encourage root growth. If these two layers do not get mixed, it may actually prevent good root growth.

Prepare your lot by using a rake to level the soil, avoiding high or low spots. The soil should be loose and slightly damp when you seed it. Use a spreader to distribute the seed. This will maintain an even appearance. Next, lightly rake the seeds into the soil. Do not rake the seeds any deeper than inch, or the seeds may not germinate.

Fertilize the lawn with a fertilizer of your choice, and water it daily. If the weather is hot, you may want to water lightly several times a day. The soil must be damp to germinate the seeds. Your lawn should be green within 2 weeks. Continue to water as the grass grows, increasing the quantity as it matures.

Do not mow your lawn for several weeks. Give the root system time to take hold. The seedlings should be about 3 inches high before you consider mowing. Keep your blade at a higher level until the tender new seedlings have matured.

Sodded Lawn Prep
Prepare your seedbed as you would for seeding. Keep in mind most sod is to thick, and allow for the height of the sod near sidewalks. Watch the weather for rain. Natural rainfall is much better for your lawn than sprinkling, so if you can time the installation of your sod for just before a rain, it will soak the sod and make for better rooting.

When choosing your sod, make sure it is thick and lush, and holds together when you pick it up. Have your sod delivered for the day of installation. Do not allow it to stay rolled up for more than a day or two.

Choose a long straight line, such as the edge of a building or sidewalk to begin laying the sod. Stagger the sod so that the seams from one row fall in the middle of the pieces of the previous rows. Butt the rolls as closely together as you can. You can just cut the sod with a sharp knife or razor to fit the lie of your yard. Rent a sod roller to pack down the sod within the topsoil.

Water the sod immediately. Continue to water the lawn daily, for several weeks. Let the sod grow several weeks before mowing. If you mow before the sod has taken root, it will simply chop up the sod.

Fertilizing Your Lawn
Fertilizing your lawn will prevent weeds and make it lush and green. However, if you live near a lake or stream, you may want to consider a biodegradable fertilizer, or no fertilizer at all to preserve the integrity of your water.

Fertilizers contain nitrogen, which helps improve the color and density of the grass; phosphorous, which promotes root growth; and potassium, which is good for plant health.

Early spring is a good time to fertilize your lawn. If you are using granular fertilizer, use a spreader and time your fertilization for just before a rain. A liquid fertilizer can be dispensed with your garden hose and a special attachment.

Fall is another time to fertilize your lawn to help it through the stress of winter, but if you are concerned about ecology, you may want to skip this feeding.

Watering Your Lawn
The amount and duration your water your lawn depends on your climate. If you live in a very hot area, you may have to water your lawn daily. Generally, lawns need at least 1 to 2 of rainfall per week to keep them green. Do not wait for your lawn to have dry patches before you water. When you see the start of a dry patch on your lawn, it is a sign it is in need of water. It is best to water your lawn in early morning or late evening to avoid burning the grass. How much you have to water will depend on rainfall and what type of soil you have beneath your grass. Sandy soil will drain the water much more quickly than black dirt or loam, which tends to hold the water.


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