man putting down sod in his yard
Photo: Keller & Keller
Secrets for Success
How to get your lawn off to a strong start

Seed
How much to buy: One pound covers 200 square feet.
Prep work: Loosen the top couple of inches of soil with an iron rake and work in a starter fertilizer or slow-release organic fertilizer.
Planting day: Spread the seed, cover with a thin layer of soil or compost, and pull a drum roller one-third full of water over the area to ensure good seed-soil contact. (Don't cover Zoysia; its seeds need light to sprout.) A layer of straw mulch two to three straws thick prevents the seeds from drying out.
Keep it moist: Unless it rains, mist daily—morning and evening, at least—so that the soil stays moist. Seeds should sprout in about three weeks. Once each sprout develops two to three blades and has been mowed a few times, cut back watering to every other day for two to three months, then follow the 1-inch-a-week rule.

Learn How to Read a Seed-Bag Label

Sod
How much to order: Add about 5 percent to the square footage of the area you wish to cover. Almost none of it will go to waste.
Prep work: Before the sod is delivered, rototill the soil 6 inches deep and rake smooth. Omit fertilizer.
Planting day: Install ASAP; if left rolled up, grass will die quickly. Wet the soil first. Stagger the end joints and butt all the edges tightly together. Pull a drum roller one-third full of water over the sod to ensure that the roots are in firm contact with the soil. Apply starter fertilizer.
Keep it moist: Drench daily for two to four weeks to establish roots; a gentle tug will tell you. Cut back to every other day or so for two more weeks, then follow the 1-inch-a-week rule.
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