How to Seed a Lawn

Three Methods:Starting OffSeeding a New LawnOverseeding a Pre-Existing Lawn

Starting a lawn from seed is not only the most economical method, but it also allows you to choose your grass from a larger selection of varieties. It is important to remember, though, that seeding a new lawn takes a longer than the alternative method of laying sod before you have hearty grass cover.

Method 1
Starting Off

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    Determine whether you'll need a cool-season grass or a warm-season grass. Where you live should affect which type of seed you plant in your lawn. In the United States, cool-season grass flourishes in the north, while warm-season grass flourishes in the south. A swath of between the northern and southern United States is named the "transition zone," where mixes or cool- and warm-season grasses generally flourish.[1]
    • Cool-season grasses, which include Bentgrass, Bluegrass, Fine Fescue, Tall Fescue and Ryegrass, should be seeded mid-August through mid-October, depending on local conditions. They thrive in temperatures above 60 °F (16 °C) and lay dormant when temperatures fall in the winter.
    • Warm-season grasses, which include Bahia, Bermuda, Carpetgrass, Centipede, St. Augustine and Zoysia, should be seeded March through September, depending on local conditions. They thrive in temperatures above 80 °F (27 °C) and need less water, helping to make them more drought resistant.
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    Take a soil test to determine the lime and fertilizer recommendations for your new lawn. A soil test will measure the amount of helpful elements in your soil (phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, etc.), as well as the pH of the soil.[2] Your local county extension office should be able to give you instructions for administering the test.
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    Check the area that you intend to seed for signs of persistent, invasive weeds. If any hard-to-control weeds have taken over the area, you may need to treat the soil with a non-selective herbicide to kill off the invasive weeds.
    • Wait a few weeks to allow the herbicide to work before continuing with soil preparation if it was necessary to use one.

Method 2
Seeding a New Lawn

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    Till or dig the soil to a depth of 3 to 6 inches (7.6 to 15.2 cm). With a rake, remove any clumps of compacted dirt or roots completely.
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    Mix in an organic matter such as peat if the soil is heavy. Good quality topsoil can also be mixed into the soil as long as it is not more than 20 percent clay.
    • Compost or other fertilizer can also be mixed into the soil at this point to provide essential nutrients for your lawn.
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    Allow the soil to settle and then rake it to make it level.
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    Use a rotary or drop-style spreader to get the most uniform coverage when seeding. Pass over the lawn with the spreader several times, going in the same direction, to apply half of the grass seed. Make a second pass over the area, going at right angles to the first pass, to apply the remainder of the seed.
    • If not using a drop-style spreader and using your hand instead, toss the seeds from roughly two or three feet to ensure more even coverage. Shoot to cover one square foot with about 1/3 of an ounce (30 grams per square meter).
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    Rake the area lightly to cover the seeds with soil.
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    Roll the area carefully to ensure good seed-to-soil contact and to firm the surface to protect the seed.
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    Mulch the entire area lightly using weed-free straw or hay. Apply the mulch lightly enough that some of the soil surface is visible through the mulch.
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    Water the area or roll it again to help the mulch stay in place and prevent it from blowing away.
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    Keep the surface of the soil moist for 15 to 20 days to allow the seedlings to germinate and get established. This may require light watering two to four times each day.
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    Water the lawn less frequently after the grass is established. Begin mowing the grass when it reaches 2 12 to 3 inches (6.4 to 7.6 cm). After the first mow, keep a routine watering schedule of 1 inch (2.5 cm) per week.

Method 3
Overseeding a Pre-Existing Lawn

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    Mow the lawn lower than usual. Go over your lawn with your trusty lawnmower, on a lower-than-usual setting. This will thin out the existing lawn and help your new seed blend in better.
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    Rake the existing lawn to further thin it out. Go over the entire lawn with a rake, making sure to thin out dried-out or dead grass.
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    Aerate the soil with a broad fork (preferable) or other aerating device. Plunge the tines of the broad fork into the soil, pull back slightly, and then take your broad fork out of the soil.
    • When doing this, be careful not to disturb the structure of the soil. When aerating, you don't want to overturn the soil, just loosen it up a bit. Overturning the soil will uproot the grass and may cause the proliferation of weeds.
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    Spread compost, and then fertilizer, over the entire lawn. Spread just enough to cover anywhere from 14 inch (0.6 cm) to 12 inch (1.3 cm) of grass.
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    Pass over the lawn with a spreader several times to apply the seed.
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    Rake in the seed, making sure to cover all spots equally.
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    Mulch the entire area lightly using weed-free straw or hay. Apply the mulch lightly enough that some of the soil surface is visible through the mulch.
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    Water the area regularly in the beginning. Once the seedlings begin to grow, water less frequently, hitting 1 inch (2.5 cm) per week.

Tips

  • The best time to seed a new lawn varies depending on the type of grass you are growing and the climate of the area where you live. In general, warm season grasses should be started between May and July, and cool season grasses in August or September.

Warnings

  • Do not mow the grass until it is 50 percent taller than you want the lawn to be. For example, if you want your lawn cut to 3 inches (7.6 cm), do not mow until the seedlings are at least 4 12 inches (11.4 cm) tall.


Article Info

Categories: Lawn Care