Monday, March 12, 2012

How to Plant New Grass

What spectacular weather, eh?

The prior owners of our home had a 22' by 4' garden in which they grew different spices and had a nice rosebush.  Because of the layout, we tore up the garden last fall when we moved in - the garden blocked access to the rest of the yard for our dog and even when she did get by, her cable would get caught in the plants or the rose bush.

The garden was separated on one side by landscaping stones, so the first job was to remove these.  Ugh, what a pain.
Say goodbye to a fun weekend!
The prior owner had made a frame of concrete and set the stones in the frame.  He then added mortar to join the stones together.

The first step involved using a trencher to dig up the garden and the yard by a few inches on each side of the stone.  I then started jamming a gigantic railroad spike into the mortar between stones to break up the mortar.  My neighbor suggested I simply use his sledge hammer, slam it into the stones, and this would break up the mortar and free the stones from the concrete base.  He was right - I wish I had talked to him about this prior to spending my Saturday jamming away with the railroad spike.
Hello sore back
The culprit
Each stone weighed 40 or 50lbs would be my guess. 
That took up my Saturday.  On Sunday, I spent the day preparing the former garden area for seeding.
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I was surprised at how rocky the soil was, even in the area where the garden was.  I quickly built a sifter out of some metal screen and left over chair legs.
Searching for gold
I then dug up about 6" of dirt across the entire area, dropped it into my sifter, and sorted out all the rocks (I also found some old paper, pieces of glass, and some brick).  I then used the good dirt which had fallen into the trash can and spread it back out over the entire area.

It's important to try to level out the area where you are planting new grass as any mounds or depressions will likely remain once the grass has taken root.  This can cause uneven drainage.  I used a shovel to pat down the dirt and create a pretty smooth plot.

New grass needs to be left alone to sprout and grow roots, so I also needed to put up a fence to keep the dog out.  The prior homeowner had left 24' of fence which was about 4' high, so I cut it in half and used spikes to create a perimeter.
Off limits!
I bought a small bag of Scott's grass seed along with Starter Fertilizer.  I was convinced I would just spread it by hand, but I read enough warnings online to decide otherwise.  I bought a hand spreader for $15 from Home Depot and I think the results were very good.

Once the grass seed was spread, I used the back of a rake to push the seeds down gently.
This had better work!
I used the spreader to then distribute the Starter Fertilizer, then hit it all with the hose.  The best recommendation I found online was to keep the ground moist - don't create puddles, but also realize that if it dries out, it'll die.  I plan to water the lawn twice a day for the foreseeable future and hope the grass fills in nicely.

I'll plan to post a new pic of the lawn every few days so that everyone can see the progress.  My real concern is keeping our dog off the area for long enough for the grass to grow in.  Different sites say it can take 5 to 30 days for the grass to really grow in earnest.

Update: June 2012 - save yourself a lot of time and effort and wait till it is warm to plant new grass!

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