University of Illinois Extension
Bruce Spangeberg

These articles are written to apply to the northeastern corner of Illinois. Problems and timing may not apply outside of this area.

Stateline Yard & Garden

Make Plans to Plant Lawns Now

August 20, 1998

Late August into early September is an ideal time for establishing lawns. Today's column will focus on planning & planting a new lawn. Next week, I'll discuss ways to renovate or repair an existing lawn. In either case, plan on irrigating until some timely rains occur.

Choosing the proper grass for the site is an important step in establishing lawns. For areas primarily in full sun, Kentucky bluegrass is the most widely used grass, often mixed with a small percentage of perennial ryegrass. For sites with more shade, add the fine fescues, such as creeping red fescue.

Examine the seed package label to see exactly what is in the product. Look for named cultivars, or varieties, of each species. This generally assures a higher quality seed product. Having several cultivars of Kentucky bluegrass in a lawn, for example, helps assure resistance to problems such as disease. In most cases you get what you pay for when buying grass seed, so be careful with very inexpensive seed products, as they could be inferior quality.

Properly preparing the soil is critical, whether seeding or sodding. A large percentage of the serious lawn problems in our area can be traced back to poor soil preparation as the underlying cause. Many soils are high in clay, and need to be amended prior to planting the lawn. Add additional loam soil or organic matter to the soil, and mix thoroughly. Ideally soil should be prepared to a depth of about 6 inches.

Once the site is prepared, the lawn can be planted. Follow the suggested seeding rate on the package, distributing seed evenly over the site. Lightly rake the surface. Maintain adequate moisture for the next 2 weeks or so to assure good germination. Lightly mulching with straw can help conserve moisture and protect the seedbed.

When sodding, purchase enough sod to cover the area. Use a blend of several cultivars, as is suggested for seed products. Stagger the edges as the sod is placed on the soil. Water thoroughly to assure the water moves through the sod into the soil below. Stay off the area until the sod has taken root securely into the soil.


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