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Improving Soil Quality For A New Lawn

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Sadly many contractors remove the organic top soils of lawn areas located near new home sites and replace these areas with common fill soil (clay or sand). This makes it harder to establish a healthy lawn without improving and repairing the damage they did to the original top soil. Technically the contractor could have saved and replace the top soil, but cost is often a factor in this happening, especially in home sites where the actual level must be changed considerably from the original slope of the land. Alternatively you could have poor soil that needs a few amendments to improve soil quality to grow a new lawn. Here are a few suggestions for improving the quality of your soil.

Obtain A Professional Soil Test

Before adding anything to improve your soil, you should have a complete soil analysis test conducted. Contact your local county extension agent for their assistance in making this soil test.

The soil test kits that we ( and others)  sell work fine for general knowledge or FYI, but a more professional soil test is best done by professional laboratories. A pH test is also an important test to have done on your soil. It will take a week or so to get the results back. If you have a new lawn area you can begin preparatory work on the lawn while your sample is being tested. --- Also you will need to determine the soil makeup of your particular soil (soil type). You can run this test yourself or perhaps ask that this be conducted with your soil test.

While you wait on your test results to arrive, begin the basic site leveling required. Get a rough grade to your lawn and remove any debris that exists in the lawn area (construction debris, rocks, trash, buried stumps, boards, etc.). This would also be a good time to start shopping for a grass type that will grow in your area and that is appealing to you.

Your Soil Tests Results

Once you have your soil test results and your grass type has been chosen you will see the amendments you need to improve your soil. If your soil's pH is not suitable you may need to add lime or sulfur -- both organic components. You also can begin to add the fertilizers  recommended into your lawn. This is best done by broadcasting the amendments and then tilling into the soil so that the amendments are incorporated to a depth of 6-8 inches. Alternatively you may choose to add organic amendments to your soil described below.

Improving Your Soil With Organic Amendments

You may also want to improve the organic content of your lawn while this can be easily accomplished. This is generally recommended for high clay or sandy soils. The purpose is to build a soil with more characteristics toward loam. You can do this by adding well composted materials. A one inch level of dried manure will also help improve your soils organic composition. Be sure to avoid the use of wood products such as sawdust or straw because they create a chemical process in the soil that robs your plants of needed nitrogen.

Using compost is the best method to increase your organic matter. Application rates vary from 2 cubic yards to 6 cubic yards per 1000 sq. ft. depending on amount of organic matter you want in the top 5-8 inches of soil and the deficiency of your soil. Each two cubic yards added per 1000 sq. ft. increases the organic content about 10%.

Finish The Lawn Site Area

You have applied your fertilizers, amendments and organic material. Now till your site's soil --- mixing in thoroughly all amendments using a power tiller for best results. After you have tilled you can do the final site preparation such as smoothing out the soil areas.  Let it lay for a week or so to settle and then come back and do a finish raking and grade level prior to seeding.

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