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How To Install A Lawn

Marshall McCauley | Improvement Center Columnist | December 14, 2011

Landscaping can be a simple home improvement that greatly improves the appearance of your property and boosts your green thumb credentials. If you are looking for an outside project for the warm summer months, then roll up your sleeves, visit your local garden center, and get to work!

Preparing to install a lawn

  1. Before you can install a lawn around your house, the finished grade needs to be free of weeds and rocks, and the soil should be raked smooth to eliminate any bumps or dips.
  2. If the ground around your house is heavily compacted, then you should first use a rototiller or some hand tools to turn the soil, which will help the roots of the new grass establish themselves in the loose soil.
  3. If the ground around your house is very rocky, or contains a lot of clay, then you may need to purchase some topsoil and spread it, about 1-2 inches deep, over the existing ground.
  4. Choose a type of grass that grows well in your local climate, keeping in mind that some species of grass require more maintenance than others. While St. Augustine grass is an easy-growing, low-maintenance species that flourishes in warm climates, the ever-popular Kentucky Blue Grass is better suited for colder climates.

Installing a new lawn

  1. If you want instant satisfaction, then you can start a new lawn with sod, which is sold in sections of already grown turf that includes both the mature grass and its root structure. Sod can be delivered to your property in small rolls, which can then be laid flat by hand, or large rolls, which are most often installed with the help of a tractor. Sod costs about 10-25 cents per square foot, depending on the quality, quantity, and grass type you choose.
  2. Starting your lawn from seed can be less expensive than installing sod, but obviously it will take longer before you have a field of green grass to admire. You will need about three pounds of seed per 1000 square feet of new lawn. Spreading the grass seed on loose soil, which has been roughed up with a metal rake, can help the seed establish itself better than if it were just scattered on compacted dirt. You should expect to pay between $100 and $250 for a 50 pound bag of grass seed.
  3. Most grass grows better, and stays green longer, if it is routinely watered. The most convenient way to do this is to have an irrigation contractor install an automatic timer and some underground sprinkler heads around the areas of your property that will be covered with grass. You should contract to have the irrigation pipes and sprinkler heads installed prior to planting your new lawn.
  4. Whether you start your new lawn with seed or sod, you will have to water your grass regularly during its first year of growth. Applying the right fertilizer and routine mowing will also help your new lawn stay healthy and look terrific, all year long.

Although you can save money by installing a lawn yourself, hiring a landscaping contractor to do the work for you is another way to get the job done. If you are going to tackle the job yourself, a knowledgeable salesperson at your local garden center can help you select the best grass type and fertilizer for your specific property. You can also fill out the form on this page to have a local landscaping contractor call you.