Lawns / Final Grade & Soil Prep

Central Landscaping will first determine the kind of soil you have, what kind of soil you need, and how to grade your lawn.

Final Grade and Soil Prep

One of the most overlooked, yet important factors in growing a healthy lawn is your soil composition. Your soil is the foundation for a healthy lawn, and once established, cannot be changed unless replanted or renovated. So it’s important to establish the proper soil base before you begin planting.

There are three different types of soil – Clay, Loam , and Sand. Most people don’t have a purely clay or purely sandy soil, but have a combination (i.e. sandy-loam, Clayish-Loam, etc.). There are 3 general descriptions to help determine what type of soil you have and its relative properties:

Final Grade and Soil Prep
  1. Clay: Clay soils are made up of tiny particles that cling together and subsequently cling well to water. To help determine how much of your soil is clay you can simply take a handful of your soil and try to squeeze it together. Once squeezed, release your fingers and see if the soil is still in a ball. The more clay it has, the more solid and less-brittle it will appear.
  2. Sand: Sandy soils are made-up of less-dense soil and sand particles that have much poorer moisture and water holding properties than clay. To help determine how much sand is in your soil, you can simply take a handful of your soil and squeeze it together (the same as we did with the clay). Once squeezed, release your fingers and see if the clump of soil falls apart. Unlike clay, sandy soil will not cling together well and should break apart in your hand after squeezing.
  3. Loam: As you’ve probably already guessed, loam is a combination of sandy and clay soils. In fact, most people tend to have some sort of this combination in their lawns. But for purposes of comparison, it is good to think of the extremes so you know where in between your soil may be. When applying the same squeeze test we used with the previous soil types, loam will be somewhere between the solid ball of clay and the brittle mass of sand. Once determined, it will give us a good idea of what kind of soil combination will best fit your needs!

Grading the lawn:

Once it is determined what amendments are needed to add to the soil (if any), the next step is to properly grade the lawn. There will be two grades needed to give the lawn before planting the grass: Rough Grading and Final Grading, both discussed below.

Newly completed job on a new home. Retaining wall, cedar fence with steel posts, rock areas, irrigation system, and new sod.
  • Rough Grade: This is the first grading where the slope, soil composition, and drainage will be determined. There are also other factors to consider such as existing trees, pools, walkways, driveways, etc. that may effect how to grade the lawn. When moving more than a few inches of soil, we will need to identify and mark with flags all the buried lines in the yard for the phone, gas, cable, water, electricity, etc. before beginning.
  • Final Grade: Once we have created a slope, provided additional drainage (if needed), amended the soil, and installed a sprinkler system (if desired) — then it’s time to smooth-out the surface for planting. There may still have debris, rocks, large chunks or soil, and uneven places that would need to be removed and level out. At this point we rake and smooth-out the soil until it is free of large debris and level. Then we rake to make a final smooth surface.