Establishing a healthy, attractive lawn means planting the best grass for your site at the right time and in a careful manner. The type of grass and the planting method you select will determine the best time of year to plant. Site and soil preparation, including fertilization, are especially important.
Preparing the site involves removing weeds and debris, planning for drainage, and grading the site.
Well-prepared soil with adequate nutrients for growing grass encourages the development of a healthy lawn.
As recommended above, it’s best to submit a soil sample for testing when establishing a new lawn to determine how much lime and fertilizer should be added to your soil. This is especially important if you are planting centipedegrass. It prefers acidic soils and low levels of phosphorus and may not require the addition of lime and phosphorus. Fertilize before planting. Apply fertilizer and lime when the soil is prepared based on these guidelines:
Apply the amount of lime and fertilizer recommended for your soil by the soil testing laboratory. For additional information about interpreting a soil test, visit this Web site: http://www.ncagr.com/agronomi/uyrst.htm
Follow these recommendations for all grasses except centipedegrass.
Some common examples of starter type fertilizers required for a 1,000 sq ft area include 40 pounds of 5-10-10, 20 pounds of 10-20-20, or 16 pounds of 18-24-6. For sandy soils, typical to the coastal plain and sandhills of North Carolina, fertilizer rates should be increased by 20 percent.
Fertilize after planting. Apply fertilizers uniformly and with care using a centrifugal (rotary) or drop-type spreader. Apply half the fertilizer in one direction and the other half moving at right angles to the first pass to ensure thorough and uniform coverage (See Figure 3).
For vegetatively planted (sprigged) warm-season grasses: Fertilize throughout the first growing season to encourage faster spread. Every three to four weeks during the growing season, add 0.5 to 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 sq ft until the plants have completely covered the desired lawn area.
To help reduce turf loss: Avoid high nitrogen fertilization of cool-season grasses in the late spring or summer and of warm-season grasses in the fall or winter. If higher nitrogen fertilization is applied, there may be a greater occurrence of diseases.
You may successfully install a cool-season grass sod anytime in the cooler portions of the growing season when the ground is not frozen.
Warm-season grasses are best established by sodding at the same dates suggested for seeding, about April until July 1. Sod will not produce roots unless the soil temperature exceeds 55°F for several weeks. Professional sod installers have been successful in establishing lawns beyond those dates, but care must be given to ensure that the soil does not dry out.
Sodding is placing sod stripped from one site to another for an “instant” lawn. Lay sod as soon as possible after it has been harvested to prevent injury.
Content taken in excerpts with permission from: NCSU Carolina Lawns