Tips and How to Section

Check back on this section requently on new tips and tricks of the trade.

How to prepare for a new flower bed

  • Step 1

    Select the location in your yard for a new flowerbed. Pay attention to how well the soil drains in the area and how much sunlight the location gets each day, as this will affect the types of flowers and plants that will grow and thrive in the flowerbed. A flowerbed can be an island in the yard, or it can follow a fence or the foundation of your house.

  • Step 2

    Outline the area for the new flowerbed using a garden hose. It's fun to move the hose around to create a free-formed shape with concave and convex curves.

  • Step 3

    Remove the grass inside your flowerbed. Using a flat shovel cut the outline of the garden hose for the new flowerbed. This first cut should be straight down about 4 inches.

  • Step 4

    Make a diagonal cut down from approximately 6 inches on the inside of the flowerbed out to the original cut. Remove the triangular section of soil and grass. Continue around the entire shape of the flowerbed.

  • Step 5

    Kill or remove any grass remaining in the flowerbed. There are a couple of different methods to do this.

    1. The grass and top layer of soil can be removed as sod with a flat shovel. This method is good if there are other areas in your lawn that need the grass.
    2. The grass can be mowed really short and sprayed with a herbicide like Roundup. Wait a couple of weeks and the grass will be dead.
    3. The area can be covered with old newspaper and plastic. This eventually smothers the grass. This process can take a month or longer to kill the grass, but no chemicals are used on the grass.

  • Step 6

    Remove 1 - 2 inches of soil once the grass is gone. Loosen the remaining soil - this can be accomplished by turning the soil with a shovel, or the area can be tilled with a power rototiller. Try to turn or till the soil as deep as possible.

  • Step 7

    Rake the area smooth, removing any large rocks.

  • Step 8

    Add at least 2 inches of Garden / Planter Soil and once again turn or till the area.

  • Step 9

    Mulch the flowerbed to conserve moisture and help control weeds.

  • Step 10

    Now your flowerbed is ready for its plants. Because the entire bed is prepared, you can plant the flowers and shrubs anywhere without fear of hitting roots, rocks or hard soil, and the plant's roots will have an easy time growing in the prepared soil.


Planting a new lawn

Before you start, there are a couple of important things to consider. First off is the planting time. The optimal time to start a lawn from seed is either in early spring or in late summer/early fall. The intense heat of a northern summer can be hard on newly sprouted baby grass, and makes the effort much more challenging. Early spring is considered best by the experts, but late summer works well too, as long as the grass has had an opportunity to sprout and set roots before the frosts set in.

It is impossible to overstate the importance of a good subsurface before you ever begin the planting process. This tip sheet assumes that you have the ideal conditions already in place - proper grading and drainage so that no water whatsoever pools in spring or after rains; a smooth and level base with no rocks or stumps or other impediments; and top quality soil, not the garbage left after the excavation of your basement, full of construction materials and pointy nails. Think of installing a new lawn as laying a carpet; rather than hiding them, a new carpet will show any imperfections, even the very smallest, in the floor surface underneath. It’s the same with your lawn; it doesn’t cover imperfections, it actually magnifies them!

So with all preparations duly made, here’s how you install a new lawn from seed.

1. Get your planting soil absolutely right before you start.

Yes, we’ve already warned you about this, but it is so important that it’s worth repeating. Optimal soil is absolutely critical for a good lawn; planting grass directly into heavy clay or loose gravel is a guarantee of failure. Your grass should have at least 4-6 inches of Lawn / Turf Soil or Compost Based Soil in which to grow..

2. Use the best available seed blend for your area.

Don’t go cheap on the seed; buy the best quality you can. First of all, the better seed blends provide the optimal combination of grass types for your area to ensure a good take and a long and healthy life for the lawn. Secondly, the better quality seeds will have higher germination rates, resulting in a denser lawn earlier on with less competition from weeds. And make sure to get an optimal blend for your particular region, taking into account growing season, cold hardiness, exposure and local moisture conditions.

On Planting Day:

3. Work only on manageable segments of the yard at one time.

It’s very important that all of the planting steps are completed in sequence wherever you are seeding a lawn. If you’re only seeding a small area, then you can work on it as a whole. However, if you’re doing a large area or an entire lawn, it may be wise to divide the lawn into manageable rectangles and work on these one at a time, from start to finish. Be sure to mark off these areas using string or wooden markers. For the “average” person, a manageable section might be in the neighborhood of 20’ by 20’.

4. Rake and level the entire planting surface by hand.

The planting surface has to be absolutely flat before the seed ever touches the ground, or you’ll be left with an uneven lawn surface that’s a nightmare to mow. For optimal results, first till the entire area to a depth of at least 6” using a power tiller. Pack it down firmly with a roller, then loosen up the top 1-2” with a rigid hand rake, spreading the soil evenly around for a perfectly smooth and level surface. If necessary, repeat this process of tilling, rolling and raking for various parts of the planting surface until you have achieved perfection. Finally, once the entire surface is level, give it one final light rolling, and then lightly loosen up the top half inch of soil with a rake in preparation for planting.

5. Apply the seed evenly and densely using a spreader.

First of all, make sure to apply the seed on a windless day. It is absolutely critical that the seed is applied evenly, or the result will be a horribly uneven looking lawn which will take longer to establish and will be more susceptible to weeds. The only way to guarantee this is to apply the seed using a spreader. Never disperse the seed by sprinkling from your hand - this is a sure-fire way to get uneven results. Plan to apply the seed densely, at the top end or even slightly higher than the application rates suggested by the seed company; there’s no harm in seeding denser that recommended, although costs start to increase quite dramatically with heavier applications.

To get optimal results, set the dispersion rate setting on the spreader to half the target rate of application. Seed the entire area in two passes; first in an “up-down” zigzag pattern going east-to-west, and then secondly in a similar pattern but going north-to-south. This will help to minimize any possible gaps in the application. Once this is completed, you should be able to see the seed resting on the ground. Wherever it looks thinly or unevenly applied, sprinkle a small handful of seed to fill it in.

6. Cover the seed with a thin layer of Topdressing Soil.

Fill a wheelbarrow with primo-quality Topdressing Soil and keep it nearby. Using your hands, sprinkle a half-inch coating of soil atop the area you have just seeded. Be sure to apply the Topdressing Soil as evenly as possible. It has to be deep enough to hold the seed down against the wind and to conceal it from eager birds, who will be only too pleased to dine at your grass-seed buffet, but not so deep as to hinder germination.

7. Roll the seeded and covered area with a proper roller.

There is only one way to pack down the freshly seeded area, and that’s using a proper lawn roller. It applies the correct amount of pressure, and ensures a level grass surface. Roll the entire seeded area exactly twice, once going north-to-south, and once going east-to-west. Pulling the roller behind you will help to cover your footprints in the soil.

8. Water the surface lightly and evenly.

You’ll water the entire planting surface for two reasons; to further set the soil and hold the seed, and to begin the germination process.  The only way to water this is by applying a fine spray; either by hand using a fine spray nozzle, or using a low-force oscillating sprinkler. Never, ever use a jet of water or it will erode the soil and leave a crater in the lawn! You must apply the water lightly enough that it doesn’t pool or form rivers that begin to drain; these will erode channels into the future lawn surface which will require repair.

Care Prior To Germination:

9. Stay off the lawn surface and patiently wait for germination.

It will take as long as 10-14 days for the seeds to fully germinate. Over this time, resist the urge to check things out and stay the heck off the lawn as much as humanly possible! Keep wandering animals and paperboys off the lawn too. If necessary, mark off the area with yellow tape or string, and post a large sign warning trespassers that they will be punished in unspeakable ways!

10. Water lightly every second day until the seed germinates.

Grass seed requires even moisture to sprout, but will drown or wash away in excessive moisture. For this reason, you have to water lightly and water frequently until all the seed has sprouted. As with the initial watering, only use a light spray or mist to avoid creating any streams or channels forming and eroding the base soil. Be extra careful when placing the sprinkler or walking to a spraying location; wherever possible, stay off the surface and water from the periphery. Be sure to adjust this watering schedule for rainfall to avoid flooding the soil.

11. Pray that it doesn’t rain, but if it does, be prepared to reseed.

A properly graded and flat surface may be the substrate for the perfect lawn, but without the roots of grass absorbing water and binding the soil, it is the perfect recipe for erosion when it rains. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot you can do about this short of covering the lawn with a tarp! If heavy rains do erode the surface and carve out drainage channels, immediately fill them in with a mixture of fresh topsoil and seed. Fight back at every turn, even if it results in uneven germination in places; this will correct itself over time.

Care After Germination:

12. Gradually reduce the watering regimen.

Once the seed has sprouted, it will require less and less moisture to grow. Continue with the second-day waterings for a week or two following germination. Each week thereafter, increase the period between waterings by one day, until you are only watering once a week. Continue this rate for the balance of the growing season, or in the case of a fall-planted lawn, throughout its first full growing season.

13. Expect weeds, and resist the urge to control them.

New soil always comes with a healthy quantity of weed seeds, and more will blow in as your lawn grows. A newly sprouting lawn will be quite ineffective at inhibiting the germination of these weeds, and as a result there will be all kinds of weeds happily growing along with your new grass. You must resist the urge to pick, mow or treat any of these weeds with chemicals - it is critical that the grass be allowed to take with no interference at all. Don’t worry; the majority of these weeds are annuals anyway, and will not be back the following year, while your new grass will. And most of the perennial weeds will be eliminated in the future with regular mowing, which they cannot tolerate. Finally, the truly persistent survivors among the weeds can ultimately be controlled with chemicals or by other organic means a year or two down the road.

14. Don’t mow until the grass is at least 4” tall.

Yes, you have to let your new grass grow to an unsightly height before you ever attempt to mow it. For one thing, it needs to be allowed time to set deep roots without having to repair the top damage caused by mowing. For another, the combined compaction of your feet and the mower wheels will permanently mar the soft soil and will probably dislodge more than a few new grass plants. And when you finally do start mowing your new lawn, start very high, mowing it no lower than 3”. Reduce this by half an inch with each subsequent mowing, until you are able to mow it at your desired height. Remember, the longer you can wait until you mow and the higher you can mow it, the better it will be able to establish itself.

First Year Tips:

15. Treat the lawn with TLC over its entire first growing season.

Your new lawn won’t be anything close to tough and durable for at least 2 or 3 years. Until that time, pamper it like you do your most delicate flowers. It won’t be ready for football or backyard barbeques for some time yet, so stay off it as much as possible. Pay close attention to frequent watering and fertilizing. Don’t apply any herbicides at all during its first full growing year; these will stunt the grass and actually favor the weeds! Remember, your best protection against weeds is a thick and well-established lawn.

16. Reseed any thin patches religiously.

Thin patches will appear throughout your lawn, despite your best efforts, so expect them and deal with them promptly. They are your sworn enemy, as they will allow weeds to germinate unchallenged and will begin to erode unevenly. Always fill them in with a mixture of good quality topsoil and good quality grass seed, tamping them down and watering lightly. Yes, they will germinate unevenly from the rest of the lawn and stand out, but this is only temporary.

17. Expect your lawn to look like heck the first and even second growing season.

Remember, you chose to seed your lawn to save money over sod. In doing so, you accepted the sacrifice that your lawn wouldn’t be lush, green and fully functional for a couple of years while it establishes itself. The first year, it will look positively nasty, with uneven germination, the inevitable rivers of erosion, and weeds growing taller than the grass! You must resist the urge to beautify your young lawn strictly in the name of aesthetics, and you must also resist the urge to wipe the entire slate clean and put sod! Trust me, in a couple of years you won’t be able to tell the difference!





Helpful Info



Lawn Care

Establishing New Lawn by Seeding

Five Steps to Lawn Maintenance

Lawn Aeration





Maintenance I

Maintenance II


General Weeds


Various References

Material Weight

Weights and Measures & Dumping Angles

Metric Conversion

Conversion Tables

Top Soil Calculator

Custom Services

Contact us for custom soil services
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Surrey, B.C. V3S OL5
Tel: 604-888-8881