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Installing The Lawn

Posted by , in Garden 05 June 2011 · 116 views

Back in "Lawn, Really?" and "Choosing Lawn" we decided to make a lawn in an area that I'd sheet mulched, grown potatoes in, and then let go to weed.

When working on the design for our whole lot, we realized that the arbor next to the carport in this area hadn't been successful because the area was so high traffic, so I took it out and saved the lumber for another project.

Rather than spraying out the weeds, I hand dug them. Since the soil had great tilth, the weeds were actually pretty easy to dig out with a shovel. Spraying would have taken less than an hour, while hand digging took a bit more than a full day's work. I did have helpers, though - the kids fed the weeds to the chickens and rabbits. I love putting a "waste" product to good use!

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Next, I rototilled the area. Rototilling can destroy soil structure, so it is important to do it when the soil is not too wet or too dry. It's also important to rototill infrequently to prevent causing a pan to form under the top level of the soil. In this case, I rototilled in order to get more consistency in the way the organic material was mixed in the soil, and to break up the areas that had been compacted through their use as paths. This also brought the bits of weed roots that we had missed to the surface. We picked them out, then rototilled one more time.

Next, we graded the area with a steel rake. We didn't strive for perfection, but we did aim to remove several high areas, and slope the entire area so that it would drained away from the garage and carport. Next, we graded with a landscape rake and rolled it with a roller filled with water, which allowed us to get the grade very smooth. (We've had some major downpours since then, and the carport has stayed dry. I'm happy about that!)

With a broadcast spreader calibrated to 4 lbs/1000 sqft, I took two passes in opposite directions with my Chewing's Fescue seed, and did the same with 5 lbs of the Perennial Rye and MicroClover mix, then rolled it again for good ground contact.

For a couple weeks, we kept it moist (fortunately the weather cooperated) and the seeds germinated! (So did a few weeds.) Now we've just got a bit of waiting and weeding to do. Before we know it, we'll have a comfortable, healthy new lawn to enjoy!
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In the next installment, I'll outline our plan for long term sustainable maintenance of our eco-lawn!

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