Lawns are an aesthetic and integral part of our home gardens and lives. Besides the obvious increases to property value and curb appeal, lawns have several other benefits as well. They act as a form of climate control in that they have a cooling effect. A patch of grass is much cooler to stand on than pavement or even bare ground. Other benefits include: trapping dust particles from the air; erosion control; producing oxygen; reducing noise; controlling water run-off; and providing a safe place for children to play.
The best soil type to support healthy grass growth is one with a high organic content and a healthy biomass. Biomass refers to the presence of beneficial fungus, bacteria, protozoa, nematodes and small insects which are part of the natural soil ecosystem. Usually with new house construction, the top layer of soil which contains humus is scraped away. Humus is an organic substance which is composed of decayed plant and animal material which provides nutrients for the soil and increases its ability to hold water. Humus takes thousands of years to develop and can’t really be duplicated. Soils can however be amended and often times new development requires topsoil to be hauled in. A good loamy topsoil of at least 4” is required to support a healthy lawn. Once topsoil has been raked out or existing soil has been worked, seed should be applied with a spreader. It is recommended to apply half the seed in one direction and the other half in the opposite direction. This ensures even coverage and lessens the chances of bare spots. Seed should be lightly raked in or a light coat of soil applied to gently cover the seed. This helps to retain moisture in the seed and prevent it from blowing away. However it should not be covered with more than 2 mm of soil or germination may be inhibited.
In recent years water usage has become an environmental concern. For this reason it is important to take the time to build a healthy soil structure that can support a sustainable lawn and reduce the need for water. The best time to seed new lawns is in mid spring when average temperatures have reached approximately18 C or in early September. At these times of year there is usually an increased amount of rainfall and less extreme hot weather. July and August are poor months for starting a successful lawn. Maintaining a grass height of 3.5” to 4” is also important to water preservation. It is natural for grass to go into a state of dormancy during the hot, dry period of summer. During this time growth and water consumption are reduced. If you do need to water your lawn it is best done in the early morning. Remember to water deeply and less often in order to promote deep root growth.
For more information, read our LAWN CARE FACT SHEET.