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How to Prepare Soil for Planting a Lawn

Take these steps to prepare your soil and better ensure the success of planting your groundcover of choice.

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Careful soil preparation can make the difference between a green, healthy lawn and a poorly grown one. Timing is key — start several weeks before you intend to lay turf or sow seed to give the soil enough time to settle.

Materials needed for this project:

gardening fork or spade
large rake
fine-toothed rake

Prepare the ground.

Preparation for laying a lawn or sowing grass seed should begin a few weeks before you plan to sow seed or lay turf. Use a fork or spade to turn over the soil to a depth of 12 inches. Remove any weeds or stones.

Prepare Soil Before Sowing Grass Seed

Courtesy of DK - Simple Steps to Success: Lawns and Groundcover © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Use a large landscape rake to level the soil.

Leveling is important on small lawn areas, but you may want to leave gentle undulations on large, informal sites because natural contours can look attractive.

Landscape Rake Used to Level Soil

Courtesy of DK - Simple Steps to Success: Lawns and Groundcover © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Make sure soil is settled.

Once the soil has been leveled, it should be lightly firmed down to knock out large air pockets and prevent the soil level from dropping too much later. Do this by treading on it with your feet or by using a light roller.

Tread on Soil to Loosen Air Pockets

Courtesy of DK - Simple Steps to Success: Lawns and Groundcover © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Check on your soil.

Allow the soil to settle for a few weeks before raking it again, this time using a fine-toothed rake. It will need to be raked to a finer tilth for seed sowing than for laying turf. Remove any weeds that may have appeared.

Fine Tooth Rake Used to Loosen Soil for Seeding

Courtesy of DK - Simple Steps to Success: Lawns and Groundcover © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

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Simple Steps to Success: Lawns and Groundcover © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

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