A well-manicured lawn is one of the first things people notice about your house. Learn how to properly seed your lawn to achieve a yard you can be proud of, whether you're starting from scratch or fixing up an existing lawn.
Before seeding, first identify the type of turf currently growing in your lawn. If starting from scratch, select a turf type suited to grow in your region, and remember the specific requirements of your yard.
Grass seed labels help to determine characteristics, such as amount of daylight, hardiness and moisture requirements. Turfgrasses are defined as either cool-season grasses or warm-season grasses. In general, the type of lawn is determined by where you live.
On the map, cool-season grasses are suited for areas shaded in light blue. Warm- season grasses grow well in the areas shaded in pink. In the transition zone (blue on the map), mixtures or blends of warm- and cool-season grasses are sometimes required. Normally the transition zone has more success with the cool-season grasses over the warm-season varieties. Additional factors, such as altitude, the amount of sun or shade, the amount of foot traffic and availability of water, may affect the success of a turfgrass variety.
Creeping grasses, like Bluegrass, Bermuda and most warm-season grasses spread by above- or below-ground runners. Creeping varieties are more prone to thatch.
Bunch grasses, such as Fescue and Ryegrass, spread from the crown of the plant. Mowing high protects the crown and ensures the survival of the grass.
Characteristics of Common Turfgrasses:
|Bahia||Warm- Season, Creeping||Medium||Low||Seed or Sod||Low|
|Bermuda||Warm- Season, Creeping||Fine||Medium||Sprig, Seed, or Sod||Medium|
|Carpetgrass||Warm- Season, Creeping||Medium||Low||Seed||Low|
|Centipede||Warm- Season, Creeping||Medium||Low||Sprig, Seed, or Sod||Low|
|St. Augustine||Warm- Season, Creeping||Coarse||Medium||Sprig or Sod||Medium|
|Zoysia||Warm- Season, Creeping||Fine / Medium||High||Sprig or Sod||Medium|
|Bentgrass||Cool- Season, Bunch||Fine||High||Seed or Sod||High|
|Bluegrass||Cool- Season, Bunch||Fine / Medium||Low||Seed||High|
|Fescue||Cool- Season, Bunch||Fine / Medium||Medium||Seed||Medium|
|Ryegrass||Cool- Season, Bunch||Fine / Medium||Low||Seed|
Using seed is the most common method of planting turfgrass. Whether you have an established lawn or you are starting a new one, the basic principles are the same.
To fill out an otherwise healthy lawn or to add extra green for the winter months:
If your only problem is a bad spot or two:
If 50% of the lawn is still good (not bare of grass or full of weeds), repair. If not, start a new lawn.
The amount and the timing of watering are very important. Newly seeded lawns must be kept moist by light, frequent watering in order for the seeds to germinate. Keep the soil moist (but not saturated) until the new seedlings are about 1-inch tall. Be careful: too much water can rot the seeds or wash them way.
After your grass is established, remember these tips to keep your lawn adequately watered:
• Water in the early morning if possible. The lack of wind minimizes evaporation and the chance for fungal diseases. However, if you see that the lawn or garden is becoming stressed or endangered from lack of water, go ahead and water without delay. Avoid watering with sprinklers on windy days.
• Water lawns irregularly, rather than on a strict weekly schedule. This replicates natural weather patterns and helps make lawns more drought-tolerant.
• Water deeply and allow soil to dry slightly between waterings. This will help promote root growth. A strong root system creates hardier turfgrass. Light, shallow sprinklings evaporate before water is able to saturate the soil where it's needed.
• Remove lawn thatch and aerate when needed to increase the soil's water absorption.
• If you have an underground sprinkler system, keep it adjusted and well-maintained.
• Locate and remedy any spots that are prone to runoff and erosion.
State laws require labeling on grass seed. The label on the grass seed package tells the consumer:
In addition to planting pure seed, blends and mixes are also available. A blend is a combination of two or more cultivars of the same species — for example two types of fescue. A mix is a combination of different species of grasses. Both blends and mixes are formulated for specific regions and needs, using the most desirable traits of each grass type to improve the lawn.
Apply the seed with a broadcast spreader or hand spreader. The coverage rates vary based on the type of seed you choose. Buy the best seed you feel you can afford; this is a long-term investment.
Read the label carefully on all lawn-care products. Make sure that the pre- or post- emergent herbicides and fertilizers you purchase are approved for use on your type of grass.