How to Prepare Soil for Grass Planting

Learn how to prepare soil for grass planting from landscape architect Patrick Weisel in this Howcast video.

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How do you get a lawn and garden that others will envy -- without spending a fortune on landscaping services? By learning how to do it yourself! In these videos, landscape architect Patrick Weisel teaches you how to plant flowers, shrubs and trees; control insects; pick the perfect grass variety; prevent lawn diseases; prune bushes and shrubs expertly, and much more.

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So some people have asked how to prepare your soil for grass seed. Well the first steps in that are to loosen the soil and then get the rough material, the highs and lows leveled on it. But then once you've got that, then you want to come in with a finer rake, something like this spring tine rake or leaf rake. And then you want to come in and rake the surface free of anything that's larger than say a half an inch generally is the guideline. So any stones, any wood debris, you want to get that off the surface and get a nice, sort of fluffy surface so that the grass seed can sit in there. The key to excellent grass sprouting is to have good soil seed contact. You need to get a really smooth surface so that when you lay the seed down it will have good contact with the soil and sprout well. One of the things you'll want to remember as you're working the soil is that you don't really want to work the soil when it's too dry or too wet. If you break it up when it's too dry and try to rake it you're going to create something that's more like powder. And if you work it when it's too wet, then you'll end up with some clods and something we call glazing which is pellets of soil that have a slick surface on it that doesn't take well for roots or seed. So make sure that your soil, when you go out to work it, is sort of evenly moist, not just after a rain but not after a dry spell either.

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  • Patrick Weisel

    Patrick Weisel is a lifelong horticulturalist holding a Master of Landscape Architecture degree from The City College of New York. He is also a Certified Arborist with the International Society of Arborists. Patrick's passion is bringing nature and people together in the urban environment to create softer, more livable communities. He lives and works in New York City.