How to Prepare the Ground Surface
One of the first requirements for a lawn is that the ground be well graded and free of debris, trash, clods of earth, and stones. This means that there must be even slopes and gently flowing curves, with all irregularities, hummocks, or off-level places eliminated and smoothed into evenly flowing surfaces.
When a house or other structure is to be erected, the topsoil should be removed and piled up for future use before any excavation is undertaken. It is well to remove the topsoil for a distance of 15 to 25 feet beyond the outlines of the building. To divert drainage from the foundation walls, the soil surface should be sloped away in all directions from the structure.
At the bottom of the foundation, drain tile may be needed with connections to the storm sewer in the street. The real home of grass roots is in the topsoil layer to a depth of from 5 to 6 inches. If there is not sufficient depth of topsoil present, soil should be brought in.
How to Improve the Soil
As the grading for a lawn approaches its final level, additions can be made to the soil to improve the physical condition of the soil. The organic additives that may be used include natural manures, sewage sludge, and cottonseed or soybean meal. The inorganic materials are the chemical fertilizers. When the grading has been completed, the surface is ready to be smoothed down and rolled.
How and When to Plant Seed
The best time to plant grass seed varies with the climate. The spring is the time favored in the South, whereas in the North early fall is best, although seeding can be done in the spring as soon as the ground can be worked.
In choosing seed, you should keep in mind the qualities of texture, density, smoothness, and uniformity that you desire. A coarse-leaved texture is less pleasing to the eye than a fine-leaved one. Timothy and orchard grass have coarse foliage; the red fescues and bent grass are fine in texture when closely mowed.
The Types of Grasses and Where They Grow
Kentucky bluegrass: It has a creeping underground stems and a vivid bluish-green color. It is semi-dormant during summer, and requires a sunny exposure and a fairly good, well-drained soil. It takes three years to mature fully, lasts indefinitely, and improves constantly. Short mowing to less than 1-1/2 inch seriously weakens the grass and gives weeds a chance to grow. This grass is slow to start, and a temporary, or nurse, grass is sown with it.
Marion Kentucky bluegrass: It is a bluegrass that looks something like Kentucky bluegrass but withstands closer mowing. It is slow in developing a thick sod and should be sown with a temporary grass.
Rough-stalked bluegrass: This grass is best for moist, shady spots, but is unsuited to hot, dry conditions, or to areas to be used for play and other activities.
Fescues: They have stiff, wiry leaves that make them hard to mow, but good for use in playgrounds and athletic areas. They like well-drained, fertile soil, but grown on droughty soil, in either sun or shade. They dislike clipping to less than 1-1/2 inch and are not favored by hot and humid weather.