Soil preparation or soil amendment is the most important step in growing a healthy lawn. Without the proper conditions in place, even the finest sod will have a tough time establishing a good root system.
Soil prep is essentially tilling compost into the ground. Compost is important because it helps the soil already present hold water, be it sandy or clay. In Colorado, our soils are more clay based, meaning that they are very tight and compacted. By putting in compost you are breaking up the solids and infusing organic matter into the ground. By creating space in the soil, there is more room for root growth, gas exchange, and water movement. This allows the plant to get water and essential nutrients more easily. If the root system can grow to its maximum potential, the grass can fight off disease, insects, and be more efficient overall.
You may be wondering how one performs proper soil prep. Well it all begins with the grade! Level the soil to the point where there are no low areas that may collect water to avoid puddles. After you have tackled the grade, evenly spread 3 to 5 yards per 1,000 sq. ft. of the compost over the desired area. This makes the next step, rototilling the compost 6-8 inches deep much easier. It’s important to maintain that depth so the grass can establish a deep and efficient root system. After tilling in the compost, pack the soil back down and fine grade your lawn. The last step before final sod installation is to spread some fertilizer on the soil to add nutrients and give your sod a kick-start in developing strong roots.
Don’t forget that the most important part of the plant lives underground! Soil prep opens up clay soils and allows the water to flow into the soil more easily and closes up sandy soils preventing water from draining away too quickly. By giving the soil some attention you can create an environment that will allow the lawn to effectively access the water and nutrients and have a healthy yard.