Sod may look better when initially laid down, but the health of the soil is what determines the long term health of the turf grass. You can choose the optimal seed blend for your location and you’ll not have to deal with transplant issues. Developing stronger roots when planting, increases the likelihood you’ll have healthier and deeper roots over time.The effort put into healthy soil preparation is the most important determination.
Don’t guess. Soil test. Lime raises the pH of your soil. You only know if soil pH is low by testing the soil. Soil test kits can be picked up at your local Cooperative Extension office.
I have to rototill my lawn to make it grow better
Many backyard birds eat weed seeds and ‘deposit’ them. New weeds are frequently seen sprouting below tree branches, along fence lines and on the ground under roof gutters. House sparrows for example, weave nests from dried grass seed stalks and line them with fluffy dandelion seeds. New dandelions can sprout up on the ground below the nest or perch.
While rototilling your lawn can help level out very uneven soil and open up air spaces, it is not necessary to sustain a healthy lawn. Tilling can bring buried weed seeds to the surface and cover up essential topsoil. Microbes, essential for breaking down thatch and organic material, reside in this top layer. Top dressing with compost or topsoil, as well as aerating and seeding will give you good results with much less effort.
Dandelions may be more abundant as birds drop seeds while moving in and out of their home. Additionally, crabgrass and other weed seeds may be picked up on the road where they routinely sprout in pavement cracks. These are carried home in tire treads and wash into lawn edges during rain storms.
This initial step loosens the soil, uproots the weeds and begins the process of working them into the soil. If you don’t own a tiller, hire a local rototilling service.
Weeds in the lawn or garden bed compete with your plants for both water and nutrients and may spread diseases. Getting rid of the weeds in the garden area before planting makes your work easier and encourages healthy plant growth. Although you can simply pull the weeds from small areas, it may not be practical or desired for large areas. Rototilling weeds into the soil is a quicker method and adds organic matter to the soil, too.
Do not try to till tall weeds or grass under with your small garden rototiller, as the weeds will tangle in the tines of the tiller.
Till the Soil
Till the entire area with a garden tractor or small garden rototiller, working in a back-and-forth pattern from the front to the rear of the garden, overlapping each row by 2 to 3 inches. Do not rototill wet soil, as this can lead to clumpy, compacted soil, notes Oregon State Univeristy.
Remove any weeds that have gone to seed from the gardening area by hand, using care not to scatter the seeds. Dispose of these weeds away from the garden. If added to the compost bin, the weed seeds may survive and sprout if the compost bin does not reach high enough temperatures. If you are unsure of the safety of adding weeds with seeds to your compost bin, discard them further enough away from the garden so the seeds cannot be blown back to the garden.
Till the entire garden area again by working from side to side in the opposite direction of your first pass. This further chops the weeds and works them deeper into the soil. It also prepares your soil for planting.
Mow the existing grass or weeds using the lowest setting on your lawnmower. This removes the bulk of the plant material, making it easier for your garden tractor to work the soil. The clippings from mowing, however, do not need to be removed from the area. Leaving them on top of the soil and working them in with a rototiller in is desired.