Step 5: Rake the soil

Raking the soil.
Photo: Webb Chappell
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Use a metal garden rake to carefully work the lime (or sulfur) and fertilizer into the top inch of soil.

Finish-grade the soil by raking it level.

Tip: Don't try to spread the fertilizer, lime, or sulfur by hand—or mixed together in the spreader—as they must be applied at different, specific rates.
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    Tools List

    • pointed shovel
      Pointed shovel,
      to remove rocks and to disperse sand and compost
    • rotary tiller
      Rotary tiller,
      rents for $50 to $75 per day
    • wheelbarrow
      Wheelbarrow
    • walk-behind spreader
      Walk-behind broadcast spreader,
      for applying lime and fertilizer; rents for $10 to $20 a day
    • metal garden rake
      Metal garden rake
    • hand spreader
      Handheld seeder/spreader,
      for dispersing grass seed
    • plastic rake
      Plastic leaf rake,
      for working grass seed into the soil
    • oscillating sprinkler
      Oscillating sprinkler

    Shopping List

    1. SOIL TEST KIT

    to test the pH level of the soil. Do-it-yourself soil kits are sold at garden shops and hardware stores for less than $15, or for about $10 more you can contact your local extension service for a mail-in kit that takes about two weeks for results.



    2. SAND

    to mix with existing soil; about 3 cubic yards covers 1,000 square feet



    3. COMPOST

    to condition soil before seeding; you’ll need 3 cubic yards per 1,000 square feet



    4. PULVERIZED LIME, peat moss, or sulfur

    to correct the pH of soil; you’ll need lime if your soil is acidic, peat moss if it’s slightly alkaline, and sulfur if it’s very alkaline.



    5. STARTER FERTILIZER

    use a 12-25-12 mix; the numbers refer to the ratio of nitrogen to phosphorus to potassium. You’ll need about 5 pounds per 1,000 square feet.



    6. GRASS SEED

    about 4 pounds of seed per 1,000 square feet