Soil is never perfect. You have to amend and change it according to your needs to grow crops, plants, or grass. If you need topsoil for your garden or lawn, you can search for “topsoil near me” and buy some from the nearest store. Let’s check out how you can prepare your soil for seeding.
- Test the soil – Before you prep the soil, you need to know its current condition to make appropriate changes. You need to check the soil’s pH level. Soil pH is crucial for planting grass seeds. pH value ranges from 1 to 14. In that range, 7 means that the substance is neutral. Any value above 7 makes it alkaline in nature and anything below 7 makes it acidic. Most plants prefer soil with a neutral pH value of 7.
You can make a homemade soil pH testing kit with baking soda and vinegar. Both those compounds are regularly used for household purposes and if you don’t have them, you can buy them from a nearby store. Collect soil from different parts of your lawn in a cup and mix it well. After that, split the soil into two equal parts. Add half a cup of vinegar to the first sample and half a cup of baking soda to the other.
If the soil is alkaline with a pH value of more than 7, it will react to the vinegar and start fizzing a bit. The intensity of fizzing gives you a rough idea of how alkaline the soil is. The same fizzy reaction should take place if the soil is acidic and reacts with the baking soda. Make sure that the soil is dry before you test it. Otherwise, it may alter the results.
While these homemade tests give you a rough idea, you should buy a soil testing kit if you want the exact pH value of your soil. You can also get a local arborist to test the sample of soil for more information like nutrient content.
- Raise the pH – Depending on the type of grass you plan to plant on your lawn, you may need to raise the soil’s pH value. For that purpose, lime is the best and cheapest solution. You can choose between dry or damp lime. While damp lime reacts more quickly, using it is a more labor-intensive task. On the other hand, while dry lime is slow to react with the soil, it gets the job done, can be used easily, and costs less than damp lime. If you have a large lawn, it’s best to use dry lime.
Most homeowners don’t have large equipment for spreading out lime properly. In that case, it’s best to buy pelletized lime. Pelletized lime comes shaped as small pellets and unlike powder lime, it is heavy enough to not be vulnerable to drought and winds. Before pelletizing, the lime goes through rigorous processing to make it suitable for direct use. On the other hand, if you have moist weather and damp ground, it’s best to use pulverized lime. However, you need to make sure to spread it carefully to avoid uneven lumps.
You can also consider wood ash if you don’t prefer lime. Moreover, it’s more organic and eco-friendlier than lime. Get a bag of wood ash and spread an even half-inch layer over the soil before mixing it up to one foot deep. This method requires more effort and time since it requires you to spread a small amount and mix it thoroughly before you can move on to the next section. However, it doesn’t cost you a dime if you’re looking forward to getting rid of the fireplace or fire pit ash.
- Lowering the pH – You can lower the pH of your soil by using aluminum sulfate, organic matter, or good old sulfur. Sulfur is very powerful in a small amount and is usually the cheapest option. However, it isn’t as fast at turning the soil more acidic since there are all kinds of bacteria in the soil that can digest sulfur and turn it into sulfuric acid over a long period of many months.
Compared to regular sulfur, aluminum sulfate is quicker to react and the most effective option in many ways. As soon as it dissolves with the soil, it starts turning acidic. However, you need to use this material with caution since large amounts of aluminum sulfate can cause aluminum accumulation or aluminum toxicity.
If you want a more eco-friendly and slower option, organic matter is the way to go. You can use anything from acidic mulches and compost to animal manure. However, it’s a time-consuming and least effective method since it requires the decomposition of organic matter and bacteria development over several months or years.
- Preparing the soil and leveling the ground – When you have raised or lowered the soil pH, you can use a tiller to break compacted soil. Proceed to remove stones and weeds and add organic matter, grass clippings, shredded leaves, or slow-release fertilizer to add nutrients to the soil. No need to do that if you already have high-quality and nutrient-rich soil. After amending the soil according to the results of the soil test, you’ll need to install a sprinkler system.
When all that’s done, you need to level the ground. Use a large rake to loosen the soil and a lawn roller to press it down. After pressing down the soil, you can aerate it to allow better gas exchange. If there’s no rainfall, water the soil thoroughly for a week before you proceed to seed it.
To create a new lawn from scratch you need to do a lot of things. To seed your lawn, you need to prep it well. From testing the soil to leveling the ground, a lot of work goes into it. If you’re short on soil or want better quality soil for your lawn, you can search for “topsoil near me” and buy some from the nearest store.