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A well-kept lawn is not just the province of rich nobles. Even an ordinary homeowner can make his or her lawn look wonderful. There are times when you will want to start from scratch, but preparing a new lawn is not as simple as it seems.
Planning the Type of Lawn
First, you have to plan. Lawns can be of three basic types. The first is ornamental - the kind that you want to show off to friends and gardening magazine editors. These have fine grasses which are more delicate but nicer to look at.
The second type is the heavy-duty lawn. This is the perfect choice if you want a lawn that your kids can play on. This lawn combines coarser grasses with fine grasses for a balance of texture and strength.
The third type is meant to address certain undesirable soil conditions, such as excess soil moisture. The grasses used for this type of lawns tend to lean towards performance rather than appearance.
Aside from choosing the type of lawn you want, you need to think about whether you will plant a new lawn from seed or turf. Planting from seed simply means spreading grass seeds on prepared soil, either by hand or using a seed spreader. Using turf means using carpet-like sheets of grown grass and a bit of substrate, like you would carpet tiles.
Turf - Like Carpeting, Only Muddier
Planting a new lawn using turf is certainly easier. For one thing, you are not limited by
the time of year, and you can even undertake this project in summer as long as you have a steady supply of water. The results are immediate, because even if it takes a couple of weeks for the transplanted turf to grow into your lawn, it looks grassy from the very beginning.
The primary downside to planting using turf is the cost. Turf is disproportionately costlier than the materials used to grow them; after all, someone went through the trouble of planting and raising the grass for you.
Seeds - Not Easy, But Certainly More Affordable
Planting from seeds is much less costly, but the challenge level is higher. You will be required to choose the right seeds for your lawn, and that also affects what times of the year you can begin these projects. However, this level of control over seeds also means that you can make customized mixes of seeds, which is particularly important for lawns meant to address soil conditions.
The most obvious downside to planting a new lawn from seeds is that it will take quite a while before it looks grassy. Add to that the fact that some real care is needed for the new lawn to grow properly, and you can have a major project on your hands. However, planting a lawn from seed is more gratifying than using turf.
Preparations for Either Seeds Or Turf
Either way, the first thing to do when physically preparing your lawn is to remove all the old grass. Not just the leaves, but the roots as well, and that means churning up the topsoil of your current lawn. It is easier to do this by cutting patches of soil held together by the grassroots, quite similar to cutting up a carpet. After clearing you may need to grade the soil, especially if there are unwanted inclines and bumps.
Once the project area has been cleared, you will need to till the soil with a depth of about 6 inches. This is meant to loosen up the soil to provide better aeration and drainage, which both seeds and turf require.
After tilling the soil, a lawn roller is used to smoothen the work surface. If turf is used, then it is laid out and cut as necessary, then a heavier roller is used to work out air pockets.
If seed is used, they are spread then worked into the soil using a rake. Straw is then spread over the seeds in order to slow water evaporation and provide some shade, which is essential during the early stages of grass growth.