Some Useful Tips On Planting Grass Seed

planting grass seedLawn in the Landscape

In this article, I will show you some useful tips on planting grass seed. A beautiful lawn begins with careful planning. The type of grass you plant depends on your landscape design and how you use the lawn area. Flower boarders should be set off by a complementary, fine-textured turf that is edged and cut short. A coarser turf that is more durable is recommended for traffic, children, and pets.

Seed or Sod?

Seed is the most economical method and requires more attention for planning, preparing, planting, and watering. On slopes or any difficult area, or if you are in a hurry, sod is the way to go, although it is more expensive.

Warm-Season Grasses

Bermuda grass is the most drought-tolerant, wears well, and is recommended for play areas. St. Augustine is the best grass seed for shade and is a coarse, nondurable grass. Zoysia is heat- and drought-resistant. It turns green late in the spring and is used in the north for being tough.

Cool-Season Grasses

Kentucky bluegrass is one of the best and most popular being dense, requiring moderate care for a dark and medium-textured lawn. Usually combined with bluegrasses, Fescue tolerates dry and shade, seldom needing fertilizer. A rather newcomer, Tall fescue, is drought-tolerant and exceptional for high-traffic spaces. Perennial ryegrass is tough and grows rapidly. When mixed with Kentucky bluegrass it makes for a fine textured lawn. Bent grass needs fertilizer and frequent watering and is best used for a golf course. Your nursery or garden center can help you select the right seed for your needs.
Buffalo grass gets its name because buffalo ate it on the prairies. Buffalo grass seed and sod is expensive growing best in hot dry regions receiving less rainfall. It will not become as thick as some other grasses. If you want to have a grass as thick as zoysia, you should not choose buffalo grass.

Mowing Methods

To have your lawn looking its best, you will need to mow it regularly. Mowing height depends on the time of year and type of grass. Mow often enough so that not more than one-third is cut off at one time. Cut grass less often in shady spots at a height of 1/2 inch taller than normal. Your lawn mower blades need to be sharp to avoid damage to your grass tips.

How to Reseed a Lawn

To recover your green, lush and thick lawn that has some brown spots and looks thin, simply reseed. For your lawn to look great again, put down a covering of seed over the top in spring or fall. When to reseed grass becomes necessary when it is old needing replacement over the years. Weeds grow in sparse lawns. For your questions about how to reseed a lawn “over seeding” is an economical and quick way to bring your lawn back to life. Over seeding is where you sow seed over your existing turf. You do not need to remove grass and start over. You can add a new grass type. The south will have great results using rye grass mixtures for a Bermuda grass lawn, adding a turf-builder in the fall for a beautiful green lawn during the wintertime when reseeding a lawn.

Time to Over Seed

The fall is the ideal time for the north. The air is cooler yet the soil remains warm. Weeds are less to prevent competition with grass seed. Trees at this time of year start losing their leaves allowing for more sunlight to germinate the seed. Disease that frequently occurs are not as frequent this time of year. Spring is a good time as well. In the south, over seeding is best done in the summer because warm-season grass types prefer soil temperatures to be warmer for development. Cut your new grass lower than usual removing all the clippings to permit the grass seed to get to the soil without difficulty.

Starting the Lawn Area

If you are starting a lawn from scratch, the first thing to do is to prepare the soil. Test your soil for fertility and pH (p means “power of hydrogen” and H is hydrogen). The pH of soil is from 6.0 to 7.5. If it is below 6.0, you will need to add nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. If your pH is above 7.5, there is less phosphorus, manganese, and iron available. Soil types can be alkaline or acidic. Adequate amounts of phosphorus and potassium are very important for dynamic root growth. The best pH for lawns is between 6.0 and 7.0. To raise the pH, use dolomitic limestone of 50 pounds per 1,000 square feet. To lower the pH, use powdered sulfur.

Soil Preparation

Add 4-6 inches of sphagnum peat moss and/or topsoil mixing in with a tiller or spade to a depth of 4 inches.
Remove any debris, stones or twigs. With a garden rake (not a leaf rake), rake the soil to be smooth and level. If adding lime add it into the soil before raking to blend.
Spread on lawn fertilizer of 2 pounds of nitrogen per 1000 feet. To distribute evenly, use a clean drop spreader. For even distribution, apply fertilizer with a spreader instead of by hand for large areas. To avoid lines, apply half in one direction and the other half at right angles.
Water the area thoroughly with a gently spray from a garden hose to allow the soil to settle. Do your water in the morning and evening when it is cool.

SOD: Provides an instant lawn establishing itself fast and with little weed competition. Bluegrass sod is the best because it quickly weaves a close-knit, vigorous, and attractive turf. Purchase well-rooted, moist rolls that are green and not yellowing. Install it as soon as possible. Keep moist if allowed to sit for 2 to 3 days storing in a cool shaded area. Prepare the soil as for seed and water before laying the sod. Water several weeks until the roots are established into the soil. Sodding can be done in the summer as long as it is well watered.
SEED: Broadcast seeds with a mechanical spreader, or a hand spreader for a small area. Use the recommended rate on the seed package. Over seeding will choke out the tiny seed plants. More is not better. Mix the seeds in the hopper and spread one-half of the total amount of seed required in one direction and the second half at right angles to the first. Use a leaf rake lightly to barely cover the seeds with soil. If you have access to a roller, roll the seedbed to guarantee that all seed comes in contact with the soil. For a smaller area, walk on it. Water slowly, gently, and deeply to keep seeds from washing away. Water every day or when the soil looks dry. Continue watering for about 3 weeks after germination. When the new grass is 2 to 2-1/2 inches tall, mow it to a height of 1-1/2 to 2 inches; mow regularly thereafter.

Birds and Pests

Germination of grass seed has an 80 to 85 percent germination rate. Rainfall can move the seed around so the seed may not sprout evenly. Birds, including robins and starlings, will do you a favor by eating the grubs and other bugs.
If you want to prevent birds, and squirrels, from tromping and eating seeds, insert pointed-at-one-end 18-inch wood stakes (at the home and garden centers) and pound into the ground adding net on top using construction staples for each corner post. Include stakes strategically inside the lawn area so the net will not drop to the soil and staple.
Hay can be added on top as well. Doing nothing will still have your new lawn turning out just fine. It takes patience for a three-week wait.

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