When sowing a new lawn, it’s important not to assume that your soil is up to standard for sowing grass seed. There’s lots of things to consider when you prepare for sowing.
What type of soil do you have? Whilst not too important, it’s always good to know what type of soil you are working with. Take a handful of soil and squeeze it in your hand. If the soils sticks together and holds it shape well, it’s likely to be clay. If it crumbles easily after squeezing, chances are it’s loam. If the soil won’t compress, and falls through your fingers, you’ve probably got a drier, sandy soil.
Structure and fertility
If you’ve planned your new lawn well, hopefully you’ll have enough time to assess and improve the structure and fertility of your soil. Farm yard manure (or FYM as it’s often abbreviated to), is great for improving the soil. Adding the organic matter will help improve the fertility of the soil. Make sure you cultivate the area well after adding the FYM, and let it break down in the soil. It’s good at this point to try and break down compacted areas, and large clumps of soil. You can also fork in a preseedsing fertiliser to give the nutrient content a boost. Growmore is great for this and should be applied at 140g/m2.
A layer of topsoil can be added. Newly built homes often have very shallow soils that cover a layer of hardcore rock or concrete. It’s good to try and have about 10cm (4″) of good soil for the plants to establish the roots in. When buying topsoil, the most economic way is to purchase from a local builders merchant or skip company. Always buy the best grade on offer, which is usually only a few pounds per tonne dearer.
Preparing a seed bed
You are trying to achieve a fine tilth to sow your lawn seed into. As you begin to work your seedbed, remove large stones (better to do this now than loose a mower blade later on), and other debris in the soil. It’s important to make sure the area is level. Your seedbed needs to be firm before planting the seed. A garden roller is a good tool for the job.