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Lawn Soil Preparation

From The Bottom Up

The first step to a healthy lawn is the lawn soil preparation itself. If you start with good topsoil you'll have the foundation of a good lawn that will be easier to maintain for years to come.

The old saying 'a house is no stronger than it's foundation' applies to your lawn. A lawn that is properly constructed in the first place will by far, be more cost effective to maintain than a poorly constructed one.

The Soil

When dealing in lawn care, top soil is almost always insufficient on the lawns we see.

At City council meetings, we've suggested that a minimum of 3 inches of topsoil be a mandatory amount required by the home builders in our community to put down when building new homes. Actually, 4 - 6 inches would be best. So far, they haven't taken our advice.

The ideal soil type is a sandy loam to loam. However, we don't always live in the ideal world, and grass types will grow satisfactorily in other soil types as well.

If you don't have the sandy loam to loam soil, modify your existing soil or subsoil by improving what's there.

Soil Test

Lawn soil testing should be your starting point before you do any lawn soil preparations. You can determine the pH, lime, phosphorus and potassium requirements that may be needed and work according to the results.

You can do this investigative job yourself, or hire a lawncare company who might be more knowledgeable.

Soil Amendments

You can add soil amendments such as manure, peat, or composted organic materials.

Well rotted manure is a great source of organic material, but it does contain weed seeds, so be careful.

Sphagnum peat moss is the better type of peat, as it is less decomposed and lasts a longer period of time compared to other types. It will need to be moistened to help incorporate it into the soil.

Good quality compost would be dark and crumbly, looking a lot like topsoil. Avoid compost that has large pieces of wood and garbage in it. If it's not decomposed enough, you'll need to add more nitrogen to supply the micro-organisms that handle the decomposing.

Benefits of Proper Lawn Soil Preparation

  • heavy soil structure is improved making it easier to work and aerate
  • you'll have improved drainage
  • you'll increase water-holding capacities of coarser soils, like sandy loam
  • you'll provide a balanced food supply for those all important soil micro-organisms
  • nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulphur are provided during the decay process
  • you'll prevent the leaching of plant nutrients which helps maintain soil fertility


    To significantly improve the existing soil, avoid layering problems between the soil and organic material when adding large amounts of organic matter.

    Spread a layer of well rotted manure, peat moss, or compost over the existing soil and then mix it thoroughly with the soil to about 15 cm deep.

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