Starting Your Lawn From Scratch? A New Home Owner's Guide

Posted on: 8 December 2015

According to the Duke University Nicholas School of the Environment, Americans spend approximately $30 billion dollars each year caring for their lawns. If you've recently purchased your first home, you may be considering starting your new lawn from scratch. This can be confusing, and may lead you to purchase products and seeds that won't thrive in your environment. Don't waste time and money on a lawn that won't survive and instead, here are a few tips:

Know Your Soil

Before you purchase any grass seed, organic fertilizer or even begin your first compost pile, it is important to have your soil tested. Testing your soil will help you determine the right kinds of fertilizer for your environment and if you need to add other organic nutrients to make your lawn flourish.

To have your soil tested, begin by contacting your local university's cooperative extension. They will provide you with a soil testing kit. Next, use a new, clean spade and plastic bucket to collect at least 10 samples from various spots throughout your lawn. Make sure that you get at least one-half to one cup of soil for each sample.

Mix all of the soil samples together. If any of the soil is damp, allow it to dry overnight. Finish by placing the sample in the plastic bag found in your soil testing kit.

You can either mail the sample into your local cooperative extension, or drop it by the office. It generally takes anywhere from 10 days to 3 weeks to receive your results. The results will tell you the make up of your soil, particularly the levels of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous.

Once you know the levels of these three vital nutrients, you can choose a fertilizer that will provide your lawn with everything it will need to thrive.

Choose Your Grass Seed Wisely

Now that you know your soil type and which type of organic fertilizer to choose, it's time to find the right grass seed for your climate. Knowing the ideal type of grass seed for your climate zone will ensure you don't over fertilize, which even if you're using organic products can be dangerous for the environment.

For example, the hearty St. Augustine grass will grow well in many southern states, such as Florida and Georgia. If you live in the upper-Midwest, Fescue, Ryegrass and Bluegrass are your best options.

Learn How to Water Your Lawn

Once you have your seeds planted, your next step is to water your new lawn. If you were a serial water waster in the past, it is important to learn how to correctly provide your lawn with the right amount of moisture.

Different types of grass require different watering schedules. For example, according to Earth Easy, if you have St. Augustine, Buffalo or Bluegrass, you can typically go 12 to 21 days between waterings. However, if you have Bentgrass or Ryegrass, you will typically need to water your lawn every five to seven days.

No matter what type of grass you have, you should always water your lawn first thing in the morning. The air is cooler early in the morning, meaning the water on your grass will evaporate much more slowly.

Additionally, according to Popular Mechanics, it is vital that you water your lawn at least six-inches deep. This may mean you keep your sprinklers on a little longer, but soaking the ground to this level will ensure the root system is adequately hydrated. This ultimately will make your grass healthier.

Starting your lawn for scratch can be confusing, especially if you're a first time homeowner. However, by knowing your soil type, choosing the right grass seed and watering your grass correctly, it is possible to quickly create an enviable lawn.

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