I'll be moving into a new house sometime in late August or early September
and it will not be sodded by the builder. The weather around here at that
time of the year is pretty cold. It's not uncommon to get frost in the
morning by September.
What I'm wondering is, whether I should go ahead and sod the needed area
even if it's late in the season, or I should wait until next spring? What
would you do if you were in my situation with the lawn? Thanks for your
time and courtesy.
The best time to start a new lawn is right after the summer heat has passed.
If you're in the US, unless you're up in the mountains, a little frost in
the air in September is not a big deal. Soil temperatures will be higher
than air temperatures, and a little nip in the air shouldn't harm a cool
I would also consider seeding instead of sodding. If you have a lot of
money, sod is great. Instant lawn. But just as much prep work is needed for
sod as seed, and if you have a chance to seed at the best time to seed
(fall), why spend the extra money on sod? If the lawn will be covered by
snow all winter, no one cares if there's sod or seed underneath, and by late
spring, a fall seeded lawn is going to look as good as a fall sodded lawn.
And it'll have been less of a stress on your wallet, too.
Warren, thank you so much for your timely reply. I really appreciate
your suggestion as well about seeding instead of sodding as well. I
forgot to ask about that, but you answered anyway :-)
I'm thinking more and more towards seeding instead of sodding now. Can
you please recommend a few good online resource to learn more about grass
seeding? I'm afraid I'm all thumbs when it comes to DIY projects and
they're not green either. But it is something I would like to try and
would be nice if I can be informed somewhat before I do.
Thanks again for your time and courtesy.
Your state or county extension office's website should be your first stop.
They should have recommendations for the seed mix that's best for your
specific area, and your intended uses of your lawn. Almost certainly it'll
be a mix of varieties of seeds. You perennial grasses take longer to
establish, so expect your mix to include annual grasses as well. Don't let
that scare you even for a fall seeding.
Make sure your contractor hasn't used your lawn as a dumping ground. Far too
often they cover-up construction debris, and large rocks because it's
cheaper than hauling them off. Eventually the biodegradable debris will
result in uneven settling of the lawn, and the rocks have a way of slowly
shifting towards the surface while all that settling is going on around
Get some topsoil, but keep in mind that topsoil means different things to
different people. Topsoil isn't "top-of-the-line". It's literally the soil
that's on top. But it could be really crappy soil that just happened to be
on top of where it was scraped from. Where I live we have a soil company
that not only will show you the soil they can bring you, they can explain
the uses of all the mixes in their product lines, including their compost
and mulches. They get really excited talking about soils even though your
one retail sale isn't very cost effective if they were to factor in the time
spend educating you. But they love to talk about soil. I'd buy from them
before I'd buy from the grunting guy who can't take the time to explain how
they make their soil.
Once you seed, water frequently, but not so much that you turn everything
into a muddy mess that's visibly eroding down the hill. Water enough for the
seed to stay moist during germination. Don't let it dry out. That's why fall
is so great -- Mother Nature is starting to chip in with some free water.
Next year, water infrequently -- like once a week -- put down an inch all at
once so it soaks in deeply. That'll encourage root growth.
Don't forget that lawns are expensive and labor intensive. Don't crowd the
garden beds around the lawn. A well mulched bed, even if it's empty, won't
need much more weeding than a lawn (and you can use less selective
herbicides if you choose that route, too.) A mulched bed doesn't need to be
mowed. And it doesn't need to be watered. And as you fill it with plants,
you can choose low-maintenance, drought tolerant plants. Meanwhile, you'll
be watering and mowing the adjoining lawn. If you need place for the kids to
play, that may be great. Or if you really love the look of a huge lawn,
cool. But if you want to save time and money, there are lower
cost/maintenance ways to go than lawn.
There are lots of different ideas out there on how to accomplish your goals.
Some are entirely organic. Some rely on spending lots of money on chemicals.
But most everyone would agree that starting with good soil (although how
deep is up for discussion), set a smooth grade, and the right mix of seed
for your area (which isn't always what they have at Home Depot) are your
three main considerations. Water frequently when germinating. Water
infrequently, but deeply once established. And mow higher than people who
haven't given their lawn any thought generally think. (You probably won't be
planting bent grass like a putting green, and you won't have a grounds crew
constantly maintaining it. Real-life lawns use grasses that you can't
effectively putt on.)
Your county or state extension office probably has more regional suggestions
in addition suggestions on seed mix, so starting there is probably your best
I'd like to thank you for taking the time to reply with such wealth of
information and suggestions. I truly appreciate it. I'll be sure to keep
the things you mentioned in mind when I start seeding my lawn. Thanks
Steve I would suggest you have someone knowledgeable (someone here surely
knows the agency name I'm forgetting) look at your soil and the state the
lawn area is in as far as grading etc before doing anything with sod or
seed.... Builders tend to destroy any semblance of top soil if indeed any
was left by the developers! Sod or seed, you may find the smartest move you
can make is to have a good 6 inches or more of good top soil spread out
beforehand! I wish someone had given me this advice!
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