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How to Manage Pests

The UC Guide to Healthy Lawns

Soil preparation

Cultivate the soil before planting so that the roots of your turf can penetrate deep into the soil and efficiently absorb water and nutrients. Lawns with strong roots have the best chance at fighting insect and disease problems as well as avoiding weed invasions.

Steps to preparing your soil

  • Remove construction debris and other trash from the planned lawn area; debris not removed may cause mowing hazards, restrict root growth, and impede water movement.
  • With a garden rake, grade the area so that the soil slopes away from the house or building.
  • A slope will allow water to drain away from building foundations or other structures; generally, a 1- to 2-percent slope away from buildings is sufficient.
  • Avoid steep slopes or berms to reduce water waste from runoff.
  • Work the soil to break up clods.
  • Control weeds.
  • Till in soil amendments, if needed, and add starter fertilizer before doing the final grade on the site.
  • If time allows, irrigate the area several times to aid in settling and locating low spots that need filling.
  • Before the final grading is done, install the irrigation system.
  • Do the final grading with a long aluminum rake or a wooden lawn rake.
  • Maintain the slope away from the building and make sure the planting site is firm and level.
  • Irrigate the site and allow it to settle for 1 week before planting.
Illustration of 2% sloping of soil away from building

Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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