The quickest way to get a gorgeous lawn is to lay sod, uniform patches of grass-covered soil held together by matted roots. It will go more smoothly if you know a few landscaping tricks.
Step 1: Prep the land Till your soil with a garden hoe and remove sticks and stones. Consider a power garden tiller if you have a lot of land. Then, apply starter fertilizer with a lawn spreader.
Step 2: Test the soil Test your soil to find out what nutrients it needs. Garden centers sell do-it-yourself kits, or you can arrange a test through your local Extension Service.
Step 3: Start on the straight and narrow Put down the first row of sod along a straight line, like the edge of a driveway. If your yard is uneven all around, create a straight line by tying a string between two stakes.
TIP: Use a sharp knife or hand cutter to trim sections to fit uneven areas.
Step 4: Stagger the strips Stagger the rows of sod the way bricklayers arrange bricks. As you put down each roll, tuck the edges into the next one as tightly as possible without overlapping them. Spaces between sod strips can cause the edges to die, turning them brown.
Step 5: Keep it moist Keep your budding lawn moist by watering it, once a day for 10 minutes for the next three weeks. After that, give it about an inch and a half of water over a week.
TIP: If you don't want to bother tilling your land, start fresh by putting in about five inches of topsoil before you add starter fertilizer.
Step 6: Roll over them Press the sod into the soil with a weighted lawn roller. This will help knit it into the soil.
Step 7: Start mowing Wait until your new grass is about five inches tall before mowing it for the first time; then keep it between two and three inches.
TIP: Measure how much water your lawn is getting by putting out a can before watering.
Step 8: Pick the right time Lay sod at the appropriate time of year, which depends on where you live. Ask your local gardening center or check with the Cooperative Extension System, a national agricultural network. Find the nearest Extension office on the USDA web site.
Step 9: Consider the weather Take the weather into consideration: If it's been rainy, water less; if it's been hot and dry, water more. To test if your lawn needs watering, walk on it. If the grass springs back, it's fine; if your footprint remains and the grass has a grayish hue, it's too dry.
FACT: Overjoyed New York Mets fans celebrated the team's 1969 World Series win by grabbing pieces of sod as souvenirs.