Rabbit Hill Sod from Rabbit Hill Farms

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Preparing the Soil

Now is a good time to consider putting in an irrigation system. This is not essential, but greatly enhances your ability to water your lawn correctly. Many retail outlets now offer supplies to DIY homeowners. If you can cut plastic pipe and glue it together, you can do it.. Again, if you are not comfortable doing it yourself, there are plenty of local companies you can call. Most landscapers have irrigation installation services. If you elect to use hoses and sprinklers, be prepared to spend lots of time moving them around the yard. If you do not have an irrigation system, consider installing your sod in the spring or fall. It will be very difficult to get a large yard of new sod established in the heat of summer with hoses and sprinklers.

If your yard has four to six inches of topsoil, you probably don’t need to bring in more. If you feel the soil is lacking organic matter or is sandy, this is a good time to work in peat moss or compost with a roto tiller. The organic matter holds moisture and nutrients in your soil as mini reservoirs for the grass roots systems. If you only have a couple of inches of topsoil, you need to bring in some more. The deeper your grass’ roots grow into topsoil, the better it can handle the stress of summer dry spells. Once you have four to six inches of topsoil, you should rototill four to six inches deep. Now is the time to incorporate in some fertilizer and lime to the soil. It is best to have a soil sample analyzed to know the correct amount of fertilizer and lime. Most counties in New Jersey have a Rutgers Cooperative Extension office that can accept soil samples. They will be sent to Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ to be analyzed and the results will be sent to you with specific recommendations for soil amendments. Most states that have a Land Grant college or university that offer similar services. If you don’t want to go this route, you can add a reasonable rate of amendments as per label instructions on the packaging. Typically, about one pound (1 lb.) of actual nitrogen per 1000 square feet is sufficient. If you bought a 10-10-10 fertilizer, the first 10 is the nitrogen at 10% by weight. 10 pounds (10 lb.) of a 10-10-10 fertilizer wold equal one pound (1 lb.) of actual nitrogen. DO NOT use a “weed and feed” fertilizer as a starter fertilizer on the soil. It could damage or kill new sod roots. Our sod is fertilized on a regular schedule, so you do not need to put any on top after you lay the sod. Wait unitl the sod is firmly established before applying additional fertilizer.

Next: Grading the Soil >>

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