Spread The Dirt

Starting A Lawn In 5 Easy Steps

After we removed the poor white trash not tub from our yard, we were left with a dead, blank, ugly space of compacted dirt and a few weeds for flare.  Do I have to tell you that this look doesn’t even come close to my dream of a perfect lawn this summer?  Nope.  Not one bit.  What this dirt patch needs is, ironically, more dirt, a bag of grass seed, and a little muscle to transform it into the lush, green lawn that I covet for afternoon pool parties and evening campfires.

The area I had to seed was approximately 15’x15′, or 225 square feet, so it’s pretty small and shouldn’t take very long to knock out, maybe an hour.  (Less if my boxer stays out of the way.)  The forecasted weather this week is mild daytime and evening temps, partly sunny days, and afternoon showers which adds up to the perfect conditions for starting grass seed.

To get started on this DIY project you will need the following supplies:

  • Wheelbarrow
  • Shovel
  • Metal Rake
  • Soil
  • Grass Seed
  • Hose
  • Water

1. Prepare the planting area by raking, pulling, and discarding any weeds, moss, debris, or rocks you may encounter.  The grass seed won’t germinate well, if at all, in compacted soil, so loosen that dirt up by aggressively raking the area at least 2″ deep.  Better yet, get out your shovel and turn the soil over 5-6″ deep.  Truth be told, I was lazy and only gave it a harsh raking, but it should be fine. Be sure to fill in any holes and level out the soil as you go.

2.  Spread the grass seed by grabbing a handful and sprinkling it all over the freshly loosened soil.  If you have a larger area to cover, use a handheld spreader or broadcaster for a quicker, more even coverage.  To give you an idea of how thickly to lay the seed, there is a picture of it next to a penny below.   In a nut shell, follow the package’s directions.  My bag was for a 400 square foot area, so I used a little more than half the bag for my 225 square foot area.

3. Now, we work those biceps!  Start bringing in piles of good quality soil to cover the grass seed.   This spot took a little more than half a yard of dirt which covered the seed with 1-2″ of soil.  I choose to go with a garden soil, over a traditional top soil, because it had less rocks and sticks in it.  This is for my lawn and I don’t want to see, or mow over ugly rocks.  One yard of the garden soil ran me $25, but you can of course buy it by the bag if you don’t have access to a truck.  The leftover half a yard is being used to fill my deck pots with fresh dirt before I do my annual Mother’s Day planting.

4.  Carefully spread the soil over the top of the grass seed using a rake.  Be sure all of the grass seed is evenly covered by soil so that it can germinate properly and won’t be carried away by wind or birds.  Tamp out any big dirt chunks and rake as smooth and level as possible.

5.  Grab a hose and water that grass seed in.  Make it nice and moist, and keep it nice and moist, for the next couple of weeks.  Seed will not germinate in dry soil, so be sure to water it once, if not twice a day, depending on the weather conditions.  The afternoon rain showers we are expecting this week should keep my seed perfectly happy, but I will of course be checking it’s moistness daily.

If the sun makes an appearance, after 5-7 days, grass sprouts should appear.  My dirty fingers are crossed!  If you have an ugly patch of dead space in your lawn, get out there and fix it up.  As you can see, it doesn’t take long, it’s pretty cheap, and will give you a lawn your neighbors will envy.  Happy seeding!

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