Starting with a good soil base will greatly increase germination of seeds and help with overall health of the established lawn. It is advised to till in compost to add organic matter to our typically clay soil. This will provide nutrients and hopefully increase drainage for the initial establishment of the lawn. Common recommended ratios of compost will vary slightly depending on the origin of the compost. A plant based compost can be used at a ratio of two parts natural ground to one part compost. To be safe it is better to use animal based composts at a ratio of three parts natural ground to one part compost. As an example this means that for every two inches you can till into the ground you can apply a layer of one inch of plant based compost. If the soil ph is alkali, most areas in the valley are, adding soil sulfur at a rate of 20 to 50 pounds per a thousand square feet. This will depend on starting ph number and desired amount of lowering.
Next, it will be necessary to level the ground to prevent puddles when watering the new seeds. It should also carry a slight grade away from the house. It is also good to be watch the level of an existing trees or shrubs so that they do not end up buried too deep or in areas where excess water may drain. Depending on size of the area being seeded, tools required could range from a tractor to a grading rake. If a sprinkler system has been recently installed turning it on can allow trenches to settle and also provide an opportunity for checking the grade for remaining low spots. This will also encourage the germination of weed seeds allowing a chance to spray and remove some of the fiends before they intermingle with your grass. Use a product containing glyphosate and allow two weeks before installing the grass seed. Just prior to seeding put down New Lawn Starter to feed the seedlings and encourage vigorous rooting.
Fescue grass is recommended for our high desert area. It is drought tolerant, clumping, requires less fertilization, and possibly less mowing than the popular Kentucky Bluegrass. Double dwarf tall fescues are our favorite. It should be seeded at a rate of 9-10 pounds per 1,000 square feet. Germination takes 14-21 days. It is wise to purchase extra seed because fescue generally requires an over-seeding after first mowing.
Watering should be enough to keep the germinating lawn moist without allowing puddles to form. After first mowing of lawn frequency of watering can be reduced. However, the duration of watering should increase eventually reaching one water cycle per week. No weed killers or fertilizers should be used until after the fourth or fifth mowing. Reading product labels is advisable, looking for special instruction for new lawns. As to mowing, mower depth should be set at two to three inches for fescue. Water should be applied immediately after mowing to help prevent burning as well as conserve the moisture in the blades of grass.