If you’re trying to get your lawn in shape, but have lots of weeds, or moss or some other problem, the following steps will help you get started!
Top Soil and Compost Problems
There are some recent considerations that aren’t typical. Since we’ve had a lot more rain than normal over the past year, we have very wet and clumpy top soil. This is not only true for lumbrjake.com, but for all top soil and compost providers in the mid-Atlantic.
The clumpy top soil problem is not too much of a problem for professional landscapers. but it often presents quite a challenge for someone who wishes to do it themselves. When the top soil is really clumpy, it is very difficult to spread, as it has a high clay content. It doesn’t he;p that the wetter it is, the more it tends to clump. As such, homeowners may find it difficult to get the material spread evenly. Professional landscapers have two things going for them. First, they have manpower. When the top soil needs to be broken down and raked even, it helps to have an entire crew. Second, they have the right tools. Using soil spreaders can help, but they can become easily clogged. Having a commercial-grade soil spreader can really help.
This spring you can expect your top soil delivery to be a bit moist and clumpy, so be prepared to deal with it. Some methods you can use if you wish to fix it yourself is to rake the clumped pieces onto a tarp, sprinkle them with water, and then use a metal rake to mash them down and break them up. Trying to do so without the tarp only ensures that you will push them around, not break them up. Do this when you have a dry spell. However, it is only a temporary fix – when it rains your top soil will clump up again. We suggest mixing your top soil with lots of organic matter, like compost or mulch, adding more and more slowly over time. You can also add some coarse grit. It’ll improve every year, but it won’t be an immediate fix, sadly. Some people recommend getting farm animals, such as pigs or chickens, if the place you are living allows it, since they tend to dig up the earth and fertilize it was manure. But we realize that’s not really a feasible option for everyone. You can try adding Gypsum or Lime to your top soil as instead. But just like before, it won’t be an immediate fix, as it takes several years to develop a good lawn or garden. Long story short, there’s really no easy way for you to fix the top soil problem on your own in a short amount of time. If you wish to do it on your own, it’s going to take quite a bit of time.
With the top soil issue aside, here are the steps you need to take to get your lawn growing great this year.
- De-Thatch your lawn. Thatch is the woven, un-decomposed grass and weed build-up at the very top surface of your lawn. And keep in mind that not all yards need de-thatching, so know what to look for. Some organic materials, such as small grass clippings or mulched leaves break down very quickly, while others don’t. When buildup outpaces breakdown, you get a thicker thatch later. A thin thatch layer, which is about ½” thick or less, is actually beneficial to your lawn. It helps keep moisture in the soil and helps prevent large fluctuations in soil temperature. But layers thicker then an inch are very harmful to your lawn. It then blocks water and fertilizer, and the grass roots get caught in the thatch, where they are vulnerable to heat, drought, and stress. Water can also accumulate in thatch, resulting in the suffocation of your grass roots. And this isn’t even including the problems you can get with lawn disease and pests. You may want to rent a power dethatcher for this. It’s usually around $50 for a few hours and you can bang out the job much quicker than with a hand rake. But if you choose to do it by hand, be prepared to by a de-thatching rake, and spend several long, hot hours outside.
- Add your topsoil/orgrow/compost. A good idea is to top-dress the yard before overseeding. Lumberjake.com has several options depending on your needs. If you’re not sure what you need, give the Garden Center a call. Spread your top dressing across the yard in a thin layer – usually 1-2″. If you have depressions or low areas, you can fill them to level things out. Order Topsoil or Orgrow Here. And since compost or orgrow can help fight clumpy top soil, make sure you get it ordered!
- Choose a seed that will match the growing conditions. It’s important to use a shade seed or a high sun seed to help your lawn grow best. It’s also important to match the type of seed to the season – if you have hot summers and cool winters, you need to get cool season grass seeds. Examples of these are; Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, fine fescue, and tall fescue. Each of those types of grasses have different tolerances of sun, shade, heat, water, etc. Warm season grasses grow best in hot summer places, where winters are very mild. Such grasses include Bermuda grass, St. Augustine grass, Centipede grass, Zoysia grass, Bahia grass and Carpet grass. Just like the cool season grasses, they each have different tolerances, so make sure you do your research beforehand. Choosing wrongly can devastate your lawn.
- Water. When you first plant, you’ll want to water once or twice a day as directed on your chosen seed bag. It may change over time and in different conditions, so make sure to read the instructions carefully and keep up to date with the watering schedule.
These steps should help you grow a beautiful lawn this summer. Order your top dressing today!