Greetings, Turfgrass Warriors. Here are some considerations for turfgrass establishment. First, you need to identify where you want your turfgrass. There may be stands of turfgrass already present. You may want to start a new stand. Or, you may want to increase existing stands. Either way, you will need to prepare the area.
If there are trees, wood, logs, stumps, all of these may need to be removed. If there is other debris (like my backyard, when I bought my quarters – chunks of concrete, ivy, weeds, pieces of an old BBQ grill), that needs to go too. Remember, certain things that have been in, or sitting on, your soil can influence the fertility, pH level or usefulness of that soil. Stones and rocks may need to be removed by hand. Items in the soil may inhibit root density and growth.
If the area is covered by weeds, there are some chemical methods for killing the weeds. Soil fumigants are one way. But, that can be dangerous and expensive. Leave that to the experts. There are some good weapons you can have in your arms room. Herbicides are widely used in agriculture and landscape turf management. In the US, they account for about 70% of all agricultural pesticide use.
There are non-selective herbicides – primarily glyphosate. Glyphosate, is frequently sold under the brand name "Roundup." Glyphosate is a broad-spectrum systemic herbicide used to kill weeds, especially annual broadleaf weeds and grasses known to compete with commercial crops grown around the globe. Systemic herbicides are translocated through the plant, either from foliar application down to the roots, or from soil application up to the leaves. They are capable of controlling perennial plants and may be slower-acting, but are ultimately more effective than contact herbicides. More on herbicides later, in another briefing. This should be applied to weeds several inches tall. After about 2 weeks, the dead weeds can be tilled under.
Speaking of tilling; topsoil should be graded for adequate surface drainage. The minimum grade should be 2% (2.4 to 4.8 inches drop in 20 feet). Steep slopes (more than 25%; a drop of 1 foot in 4 feet) are definitely not authorized. If there is no way around steep slopes, think about retaining walls or other, thicker ground covers.
If seeding, the top 2 inches should be loose dirt. After seeding, it is okay to go through the area with a rake or other, similar type of equipment. Remember, having seeds in and on top of the soil is a good idea. A sandy loam to loamy sand is ideal for the top few inches. Sometimes landscapers add sand to increase aeration and drainage.
Do not add just a plain 1 to 2 inch layer of sand. That’s an order. Many Warriors do that and it is not authorized. It causes layering and impedes water and fertilizer movement. It is also a waste of precious funding. More on establishment in my next post. Stay highly motivated, Turfgrass Warriors. See you on the high ground (no pun intended).