What's a "soil prep"?
A "soil prep", also called a "ground prep" or "ground preparation", refers to the process of preparing the soil for sod installation, seeding, or other plant materials. Lawn areas, as well as planting or bed areas are amended, tilled, worked down, leveled and raked to prepare the proper bed for new sod, seed, or plantings. Soil preparation includes amending the soil, usually with organic soil amendments such as dairy compost, or compost made from other organic materials such as leaves, grass clippings, etc. These amendments are applied at specific application ratios depending on the square footage of the lawn or bed areas. Following application, the compost is incorporated into the soil by tilling or roto-tilling. Finally, the soil is worked down, leveled, and raked in preparation for the sod or seed.
Why is a soil prep important?
Soil preparation is a critical step in the future health of your new lawn, and when done correctly allows for new grass roots to penetrate deeply and evenly. Good soil preparation is key to a lawn's drought tolerance, long term watering needs, and the lawn's general health for years to come. Unfortunately, some choose to cut out crucial steps in the process of preparing the soil. It may not be evident that your soil prep was done improperly until a couple of years down the road when your lawn fails to thrive. Because roots are unable to grow deeply, the lawn will require more water, more fertilizer, be less drought tolerant, and nutrients may be less available.
The addition of organic materials to the soil increases air spaces in clay soil, allows the moisture to better penetrate the soil and helps increase the soil's capacity to hold water, adds beneficial soil organisms, and provides nutrients (fertilizer) for plant roots. It is very important that soil amendments be incorporated several inches into the soil, and not just placed on top of the soil, or simply scratched onto the surface with a rake.
Tilling, rototilling, or breaking up the soil is another critical step in soil preparation. Often times, especially with new construction, surrounding soil surfaces become compacted from the construction process and the use of heavy equipment. Grades may also become unlevel, and drainages and slopes disrupted, whether in new construction or in an older yard over time. Tilling loosens the soil allowing air and water to the plant roots, and also thoroughly incorporates the compost or soil amendment into the soil. The soil should then be worked back down, graded and leveled.
How Coal Creek Landscaping Does Soil Preps:
Coal Creek Landscaping does not cut corners on soil preps. When you hire Coal Creek Landscaping, you can be confident that your lawn will be prepared correctly, and, with the proper care, your investment will reap the dividends of a beautiful lawn for many years to come.
Our soil preps involve several steps:
1) Coal Creek has and will use the proper equipment to get the job done right. Our crews use a skid loader with different, specially designed implements for each step of the ground preparation. In addition, rototillers, garden tractors, rollers, etc., may be used to complete the process. Other equipment, such as tractors, might also be needed to work or complete a particular project.
2) We will use a quality, aged and weed-free compost at recommended rates for a healthy lawn. The type of compost, and sometimes the rate, may vary depending on the requirements at a specific site. However, Coal Creek Landscaping always adheres to no less than industry standardized ratios for application. Some municipalities in Northern Colorado may also have codes specifying the rate of application on a new lawn. In addition to the compost, soil fills or topsoils might be used in specific areas to adjust grades, or for berms, planting beds, etc.
An alternative type of soil amendment may also be used for certain soil types, or as defined and required by the job specifications.
3) We will spread the soil amendment (compost) on the lawn area. The compost is then ripped (incorporated) into the soil, with the use of a skid loader and attachments to a depth of approx. 6". (Industry standards call for the soil to be tilled a minimum of 4".) Areas near buildings, fences or other inaccessible areas are rototilled with a hand rototiller.
4) The soil is then worked down, and smoothed out with a different attachment. Big rocks and trash are picked up and removed.
5) The site is then leveled and raked, and any high or low spots are checked and filled.
6) Sprinkler systems are typically installed at this point. Following this installation we will do a 'final finish' on the yard area by smoothing and raking out any rough areas. Edges along walks and drives are graded approx. 1 - 1.5" below the concrete so sod will lay evenly.
7) Occasionally, it may be necessary to roll the soil with a roller to create a firm bed for sod or seed.
8) After completion of the above steps, the soil will be completely prepared and ready for the next step - seeding or sod installation.