New Build Lawns

There are a ton of things that go into building a new home.  One of the most overlooked is the lawn of your new home.  Many times there are issues immediately when you move in.  The sod that is installed is dying, separating at the seams, and just looks horrible after a week or two.  There are many reasons that this happens and we will look at each one to help you decide what the proper steps are to make your lawn look its best.

How should the Sod Install be done?

Sod is the fastest way to get a great looking lawn.  But if the soil under it is not prepared correctly then the sod will not root and your lawn will look dead or weak after a few weeks.  This is because when the house is being built the topsoil (growing soil) is removed to get a solid foundation for the house.  But when the house is completed the ground around the house is compacted, mostly fill dirt, and not suitable for growing a great looking lawn.  Prior to installing the sod there should be compost/topsoil brought in and leveled.  Once that is completed then the sod should be installed the day it was delivered and watered daily until the roots have established themselves.

What should the soil look like before the sod is installed?

​The image to the right is a great example of fill dirt vs topsoil.  In Chesterfield / Richmond the soil is naturally mostly clay and acidic.  If the new construction has scraped away the top layer to build then the soil is now considered "fill dirt" which is not suitable for a lawn (see images below of what happens).  Once the soil is delivered is should be spread out about 2-3 inches thick prior to the sod being installed.

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What happens if the soil is not prepared properly?

​The image to the left shows what happens if the sod does not have soil to grow into.  The sod will be easily pulled up even weeks after the install.  There may be standing water under it if the fill dirt does not have good drainage.  The lawn will also look stressed because the roots were not able to grow.  When sod is cut the roots are literally cut off to make the transplant.  Immediately it needs to start regrowing those roots and if there is no soil it will not be able to.  The cracks in the seams show that the sod has also dried out and the grass is shrinking.  This happens a lot during the summer when new sod is installed because the builders do not adjust the irrigation to water enough to establish the lawn.  

What can be done if sod was installed wrong?

​There are several steps that can be taken depending on the condition of the lawn.  If the lawn has established roots but has the gaps because of insufficient watering initially you can have compost overdressing completed which will fill in the gaps and provide natural nutrition to the soil helping the lawn to establish healthy root systems.  Some times the sod that was install will need to be completely removed in order to bring in soil to build a base then either reinstall the sod (immediate results) or start a new lawn by seed (less expensive but will take time).  

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What does a bad sod install look like the next year? 

​The image to the left shows a lawn that was installed by the builders.  The preparation of the lawn was not completed correctly so the lawn did not get established and weeds invaded the area.  This lawn because there were large gaps in the sod install as well was recommended to be completely removed and new soil brought in, then re-install the sod to prevent erosion of the lawn in the back that was sloped away from the house into a waterway.  

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Why did the grass seed the builders put down not grow?

​When builders are done with construction the new owners are left with a back yard that needs a lot of work.  By law after construction companies are required to spread something to prevent erosion.  However, the dirt they put the seed on will not grow anything because it is fill dirt that does not have any organic material in it.  Weeds will grow because they grow anywhere, but grass requires healthy soil, moisture, and sunlight to grow properly.  For this lawn they will need to bring in a lot of soil prior to doing anything else for a lawn.  

What should I do after I purchased a new build house? 

As general advice we recommend doing the following in order to establish a lawn in the best possible way.  If irrigation was installed in the front and not in the back this should be done if you want to have just as nice of a back yard as the front.  Any drainage from gutters should be addressed, as well as the drain from the ac unit.  Then you should decide if you want to have sod installed or grow the grass from seed.  We recommend sod install as you will have immediate results and it will keep any of the soil from shifting from rainfall.  The order of which should look like this.​

  • Add any drainage solutions to the house/lawn area

  • Bring in topsoil/compost mix (have a soil test done to see what needs to be addressed with the new soil)

  • Install new irrigation areas as needed

  • Install sod or seed area

How can Chesterfield Lawn Services help you?
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Chesterfield Lawn Services is able to do many of the things listed above, or get you in touch with licensed and insured companies that will be able to help you.  We can advise you on what needs to be done and specific things to look for when completing the project of getting a new lawn established in a new build.