Are you a homeowner looking to improve the value of your property? Starting a new lawn in your backyard is one of the most rewarding and easiest home improvement tasks. It completely changes the appeal of your garden.
With some basic tips and some time, you could have a luscious green lawn. This post unpacks everything you need to know about seeding a lawn.
Remove the Old Sod
You want to give your lawn the best start, ensuring that it establishes itself at an even rate across the entire sowing area. It’s important to clear the area before sowing to avoid competition from weeds and sod.
For smaller lawns, hand tools are suitable for the job. Grab your trowel, spade, and garden fork, and get to work with removing the old sod and any weeds. When removing the old sod, make sure you shake off any topsoil caught in the roots.
Topsoil is the most valuable commodity in your garden for both your flowerbeds and lawn. Throwing it away with your sod is a waste, so shake out those roots and return the soil to the earth. After removing all the weeds and sod, give the ground a good turning.
Turning loosens the ground, aerating the soil. The roots in your new grass need air for optimal development, and turning the soil improves the aeration of the growing substrate. If the soil isn’t clay-like, you don’t even need to turn it, just break up the ground to prepare for amendments before planting.
Loosening the soil allows the roots to grow deeper into the soil, helping the grass establish itself into a lawn. If you’re digging the ground in a small yard, a hand aerator is all you need for the job. For larger properties, you might need the assistance of a core aerator machine.
You can either rent a core aerator and do it yourself or hire a landscaping service to do the job for you. After aerating the lawn, do your best to level out all low spots, giving your yard a smooth, flat surface with perfect lines and contours.
It’s important to tilt the surface of the lawn to one side of the yard to allow for optimal drainage. Don’t let the surface slump in the middle, or rain will pool rather than run away.
When Is the Best Time to Seed My Lawn?
If you’re sowing cool-variety grass seed, the fall and spring are the best times to get the seed in the ground.
Northern grass varieties tend to prefer warmer ground conditions but cool air. For southern types, the best planting season is from spring to the mid-summer months. Planting southern varieties requires the gardener to wait until the last frosts pass in their area and daytime temperatures stay above 80F.
Testing and Amending Soil
After digging up the old sod and mapping out your new lawn, it’s time to give your soil a test. Testing the ground is important to see that the earth has sufficient nutrients to sustain the growing needs of your grass. If the soil is low in specific nutrients, it could stunt the development of your lawn.
You can test your soil yourself using a home-based testing kit or take it to the nursery and have them do it for you. The nursery is the better option, as they can send it away to the lab for testing. Laboratory testing of your soil sample is the best way to get a clear overview of the health of the ground.
Most grass varieties enjoy growing at a pH of between 6.2 to 7. There also needs to be the right balance of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash in the soil, which are the N, P, and K numbers found on fertilizer products.
While it’s possible to get home testing kits for NPK and pH, laboratory testing takes the analysis to a new level. The lab can identify deficiencies in micronutrients in the soil, giving the gardener a report of what they need to add back to the ground before they start sowing.
We recommend the lab report method for best results. Plan your soil amendments around the feedback you receive in the report. The attendants at the nursery can show you what products you need and how to apply them for the best results.
Choose Your Grass Variety
After preparing the terrain, it’s time to choose your grass variety. The secret to sowing a perfect lawn is choosing the right type of grass to match your climate.
There are three types of climates the Northern, Southern, and Transition varieties, all with different grasses that suit the growing conditions found in local environments.
Best Grass Seed Varieties for the Northern states
For gardeners living in the northern states, you need varieties that can handle cooler growing conditions, thriving in the late springtime through to the early fall. The optimal growing zone for these varieties in the northern two-thirds of the US.
These grass varieties need daytime temperatures to reach between 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit during the daytime. Some of the top choices for your new northern lawn include the following grass varieties.
- Kentucky bluegrass
A classic for northern lawns. It has a history extending back to the colonial days of America. This variety enjoys growing in the full sun.
The benchmark for putting greens at the golf course, this variety likes being cropped short, producing a classic, manicured look to the yard.
- Tall fescue
It grows deep root structures, making it drought-resistant and ideal for areas with low rainfall. If you live in a dry state, this grass variety makes an excellent lawn choice.
- Fine Fescue
This grass is a perennial bunchgrass variety that suits rainy climates. If you have problems with waterlogging or overly rainy conditions where you live, this grass doesn’t mind the wet weather.
- Creeping Fescue
This variety germinates and spreads across the lawn slowly. However, it’s one of the few shade-tolerant species, and it has low maintenance requirements making it ideal for shady spots in the yard.
- Annual or Perennial Ryegrass
The annual ryegrass variety creates quick shots of green on the lawn. However, this seasonal grass doesn’t last. Its perennial partner has better wear tolerance for backyard lawns and doesn’t die back.
- Grow grass anywhere, guaranteed (subject to proper care) with this revolutionary seeding mix
- Grass seed: Scotts best high performance seed; Mulch: absorbs 6X its weight in water and expands to surround the seed in a moist protective layer
- Fertilizer: Exclusive controlled release technology feeds seedlings to jumpstart growth
- Tackifier: Helps keep seed from washing away; Protectant: Helps keep seedlings safe from harmful diseases that can attack newly planted areas
- Grows in full sun and dense shade, high traffic areas and on slopes; seeds up to 225 sq. ft
Last update on 2023-07-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Best Grass Seed Varieties for the Southern states
The southern states have more choices for grass varieties thanks to the favorable growing conditions. However, there’s a difference in the seed required for humid, coastal regions and inland locations, such as Arizona and Nevada.
This variety prefers humid environments, growing thick and dense, with excellent heat and drought tolerance.
This variety is super hardy, drought-tolerant, and wear-resistant. It’s a good choice for high-traffic lawns. As one of the more popular varieties, you’ll find it available in sod as well.
This variety is a true native North American grass. It’s a low-maintenance variety and requires minimal care during the year.
This slow-growing variety doesn’t require much maintenance after establishing itself in the yard. This grass is an evergreen variety and a good choice for golf courses.
Another slow-growing variety, but it’s very tolerant of colder conditions.
- St. Augustine
This variety is a classic in southern gardens. However, the seed is not available commercially. However, you might be able to find someone selling sod for lawn planting.
- Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Southern Gold Mix For Tall Fescue Lawns is bred to stand up to harsh conditions including heat and drought
- Southern grass seed mix designed to thrive in harsh summer conditions of sun, shade, and high traffic, with a medium-coarse bladed texture and high drought resistance
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- Seeds up to 1,750 sq. ft.
- Not available in all states; Available in AL, AR, DE, FL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MO, MS, NC, OK, SC, TN, TX, VA, WA, WV
Last update on 2023-07-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Sowing and Fertilizing Your Lawn
After preparing the terrain and selecting your grass, it’s time to start sowing. For sowing in small yards, hand-seeding is fine. If you’re seeding large areas, like golf courses, you’re going to need the assistance of a mechanical or chest-mounted disperser or a drop seeder.
When sowing, pay attention to the instructions on the seed bag for how much seed you need to spread in a given area. Typically, guidelines will require somewhere between 15 to 20-seeds per square inch of lawn.
Sow the lawn in two sweeps, from front to back, ensuring you get the right coverage. If you’re using a drop spreader, our mechanical spreader, do a pass and assess the results before continuing your sowing duties.
Water and Wait
After you finish with your sowing, it’s time to water the seeds and wait for germination. Make sure you give the ground a good soaking but don’t over saturate it. The seeds need the top ¼-inch of the soil to remain moist. So, if you live in an overly dry area, you may need to water in the morning and again in the late afternoon to prevent the soil from drying out.
Dry soil stops the germination process. Slow germination means that the seeds take longer to establish in the ground. As a result, they are at risk of birds eating them and blowing away in the wind. Keep your watering duties consistent, and you should notice your seeds start to sprout in nine to 14-days.
Overall, it can take the entire growing season to get your lawn a good start. However, by the end of the second growing season, you’ll start to see the new characteristics of your lawn establish in your yard.