The quality of soil preparation determines whether a lawn will succeed or fail.
Soil samples should be taken from several locations in the landscape to determine soil pH and nutrient requirements. Soil tests should be taken from the site in time to use results of the analysis in determining the amount of lime or sulfur and phosphorus to incorporate into the soil before planting.
The Oklahoma State University Extension Service provides this service for $10. Collect soil samples to a depth of 6 inches from 10 to 15 locations and mix them together to produce a composite sample. A single soil test may be all that is necessary, provided there are no obvious differences in soil texture, terrain or troubled areas.
Inadequate soil preparation before planting contributes to many disease problems in the future. The pH determines the availability of soil nutrients to the plants. Most of the soils in central Oklahoma have a high pH and low phosphorus levels. Most turfgrasses grown in Oklahoma grow best in soils with a pH near 6.5.
Incorporate lime or sulfur and fertilizer into the top 6 to 8 inches of the soil using a rototiller. Unless the entire potential root zone is uniformly amended, turfgrass roots will never successfully occupy this zone and will die during stress periods.
Rake the site to establish a smooth and level final grade. Soil particles should be no larger than marble size, and pea gravel size is even better.
Before seeding, allow time for rain or irrigation to settle the soil and melt remaining soil particles. Roll lightly to firm the soil, hand rake again to break up the crusty surface just before seeding. Complete the soil preparation so that it coincides with the optimum time to plant. Cool-season grasses such as fescue need to be planted in the fall to take advantage of the cool temperatures.
When to plant?
Cool-season grasses are best seeded from mid-September to mid-October, depending on location. Spring seedings are often less than satisfactory because the seedlings do not have time to become well established before the heat and drought of summer. If spring establishment is necessary, sodding is the best choice. Seeding cool-season grasses in the spring generally results in a need to reseed the following fall.
How to plant?