You’re finally ready to move into your dream home. Not surprisingly, it’s picture-perfect. You’ve helped design everything from the windows to the floors and ceilings to the roof, siding and trim. So while, the home is gorgeous, the yard is another story. Whether it’s a completely new build or just a renovation the property around a construction area can take lot of abuse.
Before you start laying down sod, take a good look at the foundation. Most likely, the soil around your home needs an upgrade. With construction debris, weed roots, old fertilizers, and chemicals, the soil may not be suitable yet for planting.
Your contractor may have brought in fill dirt for sloping. It may contain a bit of topsoil, but more likely, it’s compacted subsoil containing little to none of the organic material that plants need to survive. Improving the soil starts with having it tested for pH balance.
Soil testing allows you to determine:
- Whether the dirt is alkaline or acidic and how much lime you should add.
- Nutrients and fertilizer needs
- How to protect the local waterways from runoff.
- High levels of lead or other toxins.
The existing soil may also contain rocks. Big rocks. Big rocks don’t work well with yard grass or garden plants. Consider the soil as an expense that will ultimately add to the value of your home because you may need to remove and replace at least some of it. Beautiful landscaping starts with unsullied soil.
Grazing in the Grass
Ah, the smell of fresh-cut grass. Whether you love doing it yourself or prefer to hire a landscaper, you need to decide what kind of grass to grow. The type of grass suitable for your area is the key to its success.
Cool-season grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and fescues are quite hardy for areas with freezing winters and hot, dry summers. They grow best when the thermometer is between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit — mainly in the spring and fall. But cool-season grasses don’t do well in warmer climates.
Examples of cool-season grasses:
- Kentucky bluegrass
- Rough bluegrass
- Perennial ryegrass
- Annual ryegrass
- Fine fescues
- Tall fescue
- Creeping bentgrass
If your home is in a more tropical region, you’ll want to use a warm-season turf. Warm-season grasses thrive in temperatures between 75 and 90 degrees F.
Examples of warm-season grasses:
- St. Augustinegrass
You also need to consider how much foot traffic your lawn will see. Perennial ryegrass, for example, is great for families with pets and kids who play in the yard.
Sod versus Seed
While using sod may seem like instant gratification, there is a process to properly sodding an area to make sure it takes.
How to Sod Your Lawn:
- Start by raking and remove old grass;
- Then test and till the soil;
- Next lay each piece;
- Water; and finally,
- Add fertilizer.
Seeding takes a bit more effort and a lot more time.
How to Seed Your Lawn:
- First, you remove the old grass;
- Next, test and till the soil;
- Then you’ll need to select and plant the seed;
- Apply fertilizer;
- Water consistently as the seeds germinate (this is important).
- Finally, keep an eye out for invading seeds (like those from dandelions and other weeds), while, you watch it all grow.
Whether you choose sod or seed, you may want to leave it up to a professional company for expert and guaranteed craftsmanship.
Planning your home’s flower and shrubbery beds starts with pen and paper. Since you’ve got the benefit of a blank canvas, don’t hesitate to use your eraser often. Start with what grows well in the climate and environment. Next note whether your beds are in shade, partial or full sunlight. Are any soil additives needed? Then consider, colors, shapes, and scents. It’s best to landscape with native plants. They’re the ones that were in your region before the first European settlers arrived. They’ve adapted to the climate and ecosphere and will be the easiest to maintain. They also won’t need much water and are resistant to local pests.
Once you have your design sketched and your plants selected, use a flat shovel to dig out the soil. With the soil turned, clean out any trash and vegetative debris, loosen and aerate the dirt, (add fertilizer and nutrients) and plant the blooms. Mulching around the plants will help keep the weeds out and the moisture in. To complete your look, you can add decorative edging along the borders.
Congratulations, you now have the yard of your dreams to match the home of your dreams. Finish the project with a fence that showcases your work. Then, sit back and enjoy!