Suitable Soil for Grass Seed or Turf Establishment

Suitable Soil for Grass Seed - Healthy Lawn On Suitable Healthy Soil
Healthy Lawn On Suitable Healthy Soil

Developing the article entitled Suitable Soil for Grass Seed or Turf Establishment, the editorial team of "Kalliergeia" does not want to stay only in the investigation of the object and its fullest possible coverage, but at the same time wants to say something else that unfortunately, at the time these lines are written, it misses.

As for the soil, what must be emphasized above all is that it is literally the base on which the building will be erected, ie the lawn.

And the stronger the base, the more solid the building will be.

Therefore, the knowledge of the preparation or the promotion of the suitable soil and the properties that it has, will contribute decisively to the creation of a lawn that will withstand time.

What the editorial team of "Kalliergia" strongly doubts, is whether the heroic reader of this site will withstand another miserable introduction.

… We’ll soon see about that.

The laboratory analysis of the soil gives a fairly clear picture of its condition and possibilities for improvement – where needed.

Collect Representative Soil Subsamples with a Shovel
Collect Representative Soil Subsamples with a Shovel
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The Lawn as a Perennial Crop

The lawn, seen from a certain angle, is a perennial crop. And as in any other perennial crop, the condition and quality of the soil is crucial to its success or failure, the same is true of the lawn.

In this respect, it does not matter how it was or how the lawn is to be installed, ie either by direct sowing or as a grass turf roll, but it is particularly important that in both the first and the second case it consists of one or more plant species.

And lawn plants, which belong to these plant species have certain soil requirements.

Consequently, if the soil does not meet the few or many requirements of these plants, the perennial crop called lawn will fail.

Suitable Soil for Grass Seed or Turf Establishment

The Value of Soil

Continuing in the same optimistic tone with which we closed the previous section, we will add here, that this reality many lawn lovers ignore or degrade, and in this may contribute some gardeners, who in the face of danger not to take work, cut the project budget to the detriment of soil quality.

But the cost of providing quality soil, or its transformation, as well as its proper preparation should not be included – under certain conditions of course – in any balance.

The reasons?

In addition to what was mentioned in the previous section, there is another that will unfold in the next.

Suitable Soil for Grass Seed or Turf Establishment

Degradation of Soil Value

It has been observed that a lawn that looks healthy and dense in the first time and / or the first years after its establishment, suddenly or soon to start having problems – while receiving high quality maintenance.

In fact, the problems may develop or become so huge that they will necessarily lead the lawn lover to replace it. And of course without considered, that the shrinkage and decline of the lawn can have their "roots" in poor quality soil from the beginning.

However, it is not uncommon – on the contrary – that the cause of these problems is indeed the soil. In the problematic soil where the lawn was established, and in its faulty or inadequate preparation.

Only time, here too, covers the signs and disorients from drawing the right conclusions.

Suitable Soil for Grass Seed or Turf Establishment

Suitable Soil for Grass Seed - Topsoil of Excellent Texture and Color
Topsoil of Excellent Texture and Color

Suitable Soil for Grass Seed or Turf Establishment

The most suitable soils for sowing grass seeds or turf establishment in residential gardens or in commercial areas and sports (generally) facilities are:

  • The loams
  • The loamy sands
  • And the sandy loams

As for the soil reaction, the soil pH, it should be between 4.7 and 8.5, with an optimum range that takes values between 6.0 and 7.0 (slightly acidic to neutral), while in terms of depth, it is recommended to be from 10 to 20 up to 30+ cm.

On such soils, a lawn can be created, which in combination with the appropriate maintenance:

  • It will last for many years
  • It will tolerand stress and harsh treatment
  • It will be healthy, dense and with normal color, ie the typical of the respective variety or mixtures of varieties

Of course it is a fact that such soil mixture will rarely be found in small and large properties, in small or large areas. So either it will have to be relocated or the existing soil will have to be transformed and improved.

Soil transformation and improvement should precede sowing or turf establishment. Otherwise, more work and money will be required, which is almost certainly not going to yield the same results.

Soil Analysis

One of the necessary and insignificant costs before the creation of the lawn, is that of the laboratory examination of the soil, the soil test.

The laboratory soil test will give a fairly clear picture of the existing soil. And based on the results, instructions will be provided to improve and modify it, where it is really needed.

The Soil Test

In order to carry out the soil test, the person concerned needs to collect and send a representative sample.

The representative sample consists of individual subsamples, which are taken from various random positions, with the help of a shovel or a special tool, called soil-sampling probe.

The number of subsamples usually ranges between 5 and 10, and the depth from which they come starts from 5 cm and reaches up to 20 – 30 cm.

After their collection, any plant material – living or dead – is removed by crumbling and then it is collected in a container or jar where it is left to dry.

Once dry, a soil sample about the size of a cup of tea is sealed in a smaller container or jar and sent for testing.

If the area in which the lawn is to be grown is large, then more than one sample may be needed for the soil analysis.

The collection will be done as described above, with the difference that the individual subsamples will be taken from each distinct area, and in each representative sample that will be sent to the laboratory will be mentioned its special characteristics (e.g. waterlogged area).


If the jars with the soil samples are accompanied by glass jars with honey or of the grandmother’s spoon sweets, the sender must be sure that they will receive special treatment.

Results & Instructions

When the soil analysis is completed, the laboratory will send a full report on the soil condition, where the interested party will be informed, among other things:

  • What is the soil texture, soil type (sandy, loamy, clayey, etc.)
  • What is the soil reaction, the exact soil pH (acidic, neutral, alkaline)
  • At what values does the soil salinity vary?
  • At what levels is it in terms of macronutrients (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium and Sulfur)

Based on these results, the laboratory report will include recommendations and detailed instructions for improvent amendments – where necessary.

One of these may be to correct the acid or alkaline reaction of the soil. The value and importance of this improvent amendment will be discussed immediately below.

Suitable Soil for Grass Seed or Turf Establishment

Representative Subsample on a Soil-sampling Probe
Representative Subsample on a Soil-sampling Probe

The Correction of Soil Acidity or Alkalinity

One of the basic parameters for the evaluation of the soil as most suitable for sowing grass seeds or the establishment of turf, is as mentioned above, its reaction, the soil pH to move in such a range of values as to be slightly acidic to neutral.

Above all else, this means that ensure the maximum availability of nutrients from the soil solution to the plants – in this case to the plants that constitute the lawn – thus being an important guarantee for the health and longevity of the lawn.

If the soil pH is less than 6 (so the soil is characterized as acidic), or higher than 7-7.3 (so it is characterized as alkaline-calcareous), then it needs correction to take pH values between 6 and 7 and become slightly acidic to neutral.

To correction of soil’s acidity or alkalinity, the addition of Calcium or Sulfur is done respectively (although especially for lowering the pH of calcareous soils, it is rather preferable to refer to management than to their improvement).

Adding Lime and Sulfur

Immediately below are two tables, where the first refers to the required amounts of Calcium, and the second to the required amounts of Sulfur, in order for the soil to receive pH values between 6 and 7.

More details on this issue will be given in an upcoming special tribute of "Kalliergeia" (… When pings fly), however here it can be mentioned that both the increase in pH to neutral values and the decrease are processes that bring results in the long term.

Table 1. Kilograms of limestone per stremma to increase the pH to 6.5

6,0375 7501000

Table 2. Kilograms of sulfur required per stremma to reduce pH to 6.5

8.5 200 - 240 240 - 290290 - 340
8.0 120 - 150150 - 200200 - 240
7.550 - 70 70 - 100100 -120

Suitable Soil for Grass Seed or Turf Establishment

Suitable Soil for Grass Seed - A Yellowish Color Lawn that Needs Liming
A Yellowish Color Lawn that Needs Liming

Some of the Soil Ph Indicator Plants

For those who want to create a lawn, but (wrong, wrongly) are not willing to go to a soil laboratory for a professional analysis, there is a solution to the extent that (right, rightly) they have sufficient knowledge in the identification of weeds and herbs.

This solution is based in fact that many weeds and herbs grow in soils with clearly distinct physical, chemical and biological properties and the presence of one or more of them in the soil intended to support the lawn, is a source of valuable information.

With the promise of another special tribute to these indicator plants (… When the, etc), we quote here the table below with a few admittedly of them, which grow on soils of a certain degree of acidity or alkalinity.

Table 3.  Indicator plants of soil pH.

<5Polygonum aviculare Common Knotgrass
5-6.5Viola tricolorHearts’ Ease
Matricaria chamomillaChamomile
6,5-7,5Solanum nigrumBlack Nightshade
>7,5Stachys officinalisCommon Hedgenettle
Salvia pratensisMeadow Sage


The References of the article with the somewhat lacking but completely constructive title Suitable Soil for Grass Seed or Turf Establishment, are presented by the Malian musician Balla Kouyate with the traditional composition Jarabi – through the collaboration of Edward Perez on double bass and the other musicians of Silkroad’s 2015 Global Musician Workshop.

With Pomp and Circumstance

No it’s not Ichichila, with The Silkroad Ensemble and Toumani Diabate and Balla Kouyate, but Jarabi, with Balla Kouyate and Edward Perez.

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