The famous AC/DC song “Dirty Deeds done Dirt Cheap” could well be the title for the most common problem associated with new lawn failures.
Many DIY lawn constructions use a soil recommended to them by Sand and Soil yards as suitable for lawn construction purposes. Often they are labeled “Lawn Mix” and contain a manure of some type and a mix of sand, clay and other organic material. Wood fibres are sometimes included. Yuck. Beware of these mixes as they compact rapidly and starve the new lawn plants of moisture and air resulting in poor root development and the eventual death of large areas particularly those in shade and subject to wear that results in extreme compaction.
These mixes in many instances have a PH that is way off the scale for healthy grass growth and will result in a thin unhealthy lawn. Soil PH level is a measure of soil acidity and it is not uncommon to find one of these soil blends at the high end with a PH of 8.5. Some have been recorded at 9 and no lawn type will thrive in this highly Alkaline environment.
To produce a healthy lawn, use a sand or sandy loam soil type that is free draining and has a neutral PH of 6.5. A PH level anywhere between 6 and 7 is suitable. Ask your soil supplier what the PH level is of the product you are buying and if he doesn’t know test it or go elsewhere to a supplier that does
Sands will not compact as easily and can be de-compacted easily if necessary through the use of a large garden fork.
Do not use Mushroom compost or Soil mixes with organic material in the top 100mm soil layer. “Sandy” is the song title to remember when purchasing soil for your new lawn and not the cheap “Dirty Deeds” soil mix “Done Dirt Cheap”.
For more information on soil types and how to rectify an incorrect PH level contact Dr Turf.