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Soil - Sod

Soil - Sod
Posted by Selena from NJ - Zone 6 on 2001-03-27 10:35:03

Hello all you professionals,

I'm totally new to gardening but am very anxious to get started. I have a couple of issues that I need help with.
1) I just purchased a new house. The developers laid down sod on the front lawn. By the end of the summer, I was pulling crab-grass and foxtails every week that were 8 or 12 inches in diameter. I've been looking at the pre-emergents and am wondering if this is my only alternative? (I have very small children and am wondering if they can play in grass with pre-emergents applied). If this is the only alternative, will I need to arate before I apply the pre-emergent? Lawn is appx 60X120.
2) The developers put down, I think it's rye and fescue in the backyard and it did very poorly last year. Should I wait another year for better performance or should I make a move now? I'm not exactly sure what I should do because it really bad, clay soil. Should I work on the soil first, and then the grass or vice versa? I've got lots of energy, some money, but I want to do this myself.
Fair warning, this is the first of a million questions.
Selena T.
Somerset, NJ

http://

  • pre emergents
    Posted by Kimm from 4a/5b MI on 2001-03-29 08:24:17

    Whether or not your children could play on your lawn after applying a pre emergent would depend on which one you used. Most of them will probably have a label that states something like "keep children and pets off for 48 hours after application". Corn gluten meal is one pre emergent that won't, but that is very expensive to use even considering its nutrient value.
    For the rest, if you can it would be best to add copious quantities of organic matter to your soil before trying to establish a lawn. Those perennial plants we call grass need as good, or maybe better, a seed bed as any other perennial we would plant and usually gets little or no work.
    • pre-emergents
      Posted by Selena3t from NJ - Zone 6 on 2001-03-29 10:24:03

      Thanks Kimm,

      Ok so in the back yard, I need to work on the soil first. I can do that. But what about the sod in the front yard. I can't really work on the soil there unless I pull up the sod. Any suggestions??

      I also noticed on the pre-emergent label (Scotts) that it says I shouldn't sow or seed for 4-6 months. Does this mean that I should delay my perennial planting? Will I be able to add some peat to the area or will that have to wait as well.
      • Sods - soil
        Posted by Kimm from 4a/5b - MI on 2001-03-31 07:16:32

        Since the pre emergents work by preventing germination of seeds you probably won't need to delay planting if what you put in are potted plants, but if you are starting those plants from seed yes you will need to wait.

        To improve your soil in front without removing the sod, if you can get enough compost to cover that area about 1/4 inch with compost your soil bacteria and earthworms will get to work and improve that soil for you, it will just take longer. Mow that grass high, 3 to 4 inches, which will help the leaf blades manufacture more food for the roots, shade the soil to help prevent "weed" seed germination, and help cut down the amount of time you need to spend careing for that turf. When you do mow that turf recycle the clppings back down with a mulching mower which will add to the organic matter in the soil and provide about half the nutrient requirements your lawn will need each year.
        • Sods - soil
          Posted by Kevin from NC zone 8 on 2001-04-12 13:49:30


          I'm agreeing with everything Kimm has said, including the corn glutton meal, since I generally like to use organic methods when available, as opposed to using poisons.
          You would also probably want to consider core plug aerating(sp?) before applying compost/organic matter to your soil and fertilizing. This basically takes chunks from deep in your soil and opening up holes 6-8 inches deep. Put compost down, which will filter down into those holes, and your soil will be improved.
          The best trick, like Kimm said, to prevent crabgrass and other weeds, is to have a yard full of grass so thick that weeds can't get a roothold or get the light needed to germinate and grow. Could take you a few years, but be patient, it's worth it.
          -Kevin


          Quoting Kimm: ------------
          -Since the pre emergents work by preventing germination of seeds you probably won't need to delay planting if what you put in are potted plants, but if you are starting those plants from seed yes you will need to wait.

          -To improve your soil in front without removing the sod, if you can get enough compost to cover that area about 1/4 inch with compost your soil bacteria and earthworms will get to work and improve that soil for you, it will just take longer. Mow that grass high, 3 to 4 inches, which will help the leaf blades manufacture more food for the roots, shade the soil to help prevent "weed" seed germination, and help cut down the amount of time you need to spend careing for that turf. When you do mow that turf recycle the clppings back down with a mulching mower which will add to the organic matter in the soil and provide about half the nutrient requirements your lawn will need each year.
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