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How to Build a Lawn

Creating a lawn is a process that requires more than lying grass; applying water and watching it grow. Building a lawn is created with layers – and each layer requires proper application and care. A true landscape artist knows that it is more than seeds, sod and dirt. It is the proper construction of an ecosystem, an ecosystem that can be tough, resilient or fragile depending on the environment.

Prior to building a lawn it may be relevant to determine the planting zone that you reside in. The planting zones are numbered from one to eleven, each number representing different conditions. Certain grasses will fare better in each zone – therefore the zone chart becomes an important tool in the creation of a lawn.

The first step to building a lawn is the soil. Soil is the base of the lawn and the growth is dependant on the quality of the soil. To build a lawn without quality soil is risking the money, time and effort spent creating the lawn.

An important part of soil is the PH level. PH levels range from one to fourteen with the optimum for a lawn being five. The PH level measures the acidity or alkaline nature within the soil. The higher the PH level of the soil, the higher amount of acid the soil contains.  Ensuring that the PH level is mid-line allows microbiotic organisms to flourish creating nutrient rich soil.  

Lime is used to increase the level of acidity in the soil. Lime comes in two forms; calcitic, and dolocitic. The difference in the two being that the calcitic contains no magnesium. Lime is implanted at least four inches into the lawn and could take months to react and have an effect on the soil therefore its best to plant the lime prior to the grass. Ensuring that this is completed will create an optimal growth environment for your lawn.

There are four choices when replanting a lawn; Sod, seeds or sprigs. Building a lawn will require the use of one of the four measures. Each choice will require some effort. The easiest to plant are seeds closely followed by sod, plugs than sprigs. There are benefits to using each method in regards to time, and quality. Each of these methods differs, and is summarized below.

Sod comes in rolls of grass that are ready to apply to the ground. Sod comes in sheets of seventy-two by eighteen inches and is to be laid perpendicular in a brick-like pattern. Sod provides instant gratification with the results of the lawn, and is relatively easy to apply.

Seeds require that all turf be removed from the soil for optimal results. The seeds are applied directly to the soil, and than watered. It is important the soil not be disturbed after the seeds are in place, and all traffic be halted to the area. The soil must receive the accurate amount of water as too much, or too little could stop the seeds from development.

Sprigs are often installed by professional landscaping company with a machine. It is important to note that sprigs can indeed be planted by hand but it is a meticulous undertaking that warrants much detail, and effort. When a lawn is created with sprigs, runners are installed under the ground. These runners contain joints which the grass will emerge from to connect with other joints and create the lawn.

Plugs are planted into the soil.  Plugs are created in round or square shapes and are uniformly two inches in diameter. Holes are than created at even intervals throughout the area of the lawn and a plug is placed into each hole. Plugs take up to three months to grow and spread into each other creating a full lawn.

After the building of the second layer of the lawn whether it be by seed, sod, sprig or plug it is important to care for the lawn because the job is far from over. The lawn must be watered, nurtured and treated with pesticides if required. It is important to take each step in the process with care – so the grass will be greener on your side of the fence!

For additional information on lawn care or related topics please visit our lawn care article center.


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