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A well-manicured lawn is one of the first things people notice about your house. Proper seeding can help you achieve a yard you can be proud of, whether you're starting from scratch or fixing up an existing lawn.
There are a few things to think about to help your grass get off to a good start:
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 you determine characteristics of the grass, such as amount of daylight, hardiness and moisture requirements. Turfgrasses are either cool-season grasses or warm-season grasses. In general, where you live determines your lawn type.
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 (darker 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 the availability of water may affect the success of a turfgrass variety.
The major warm season varieties are Bahia, Bermuda, carpetgrass, centipede, St. Augustine and Zoysia.
The major cool season varieties are bentgrass, bluegrass, fine fescue, tall fescue and ryegrass.
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:
|Zoysia||Warm-Season||Fine / Medium||High||Medium|
|Bluegrass||Cool-Season||Fine / Medium||Low||High|
|Fescue||Cool-Season||Fine / Medium||Medium||Medium|
|Ryegrass||Cool-Season||Fine / Medium||Low|
|* General trait|
Seed Blends and Mixes
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.
You'll apply the seed with a broadcast spreader or hand spreader. The coverage rates vary based on the type of seed you choose.
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. Consider how you use your lawn. If you have a lot of foot traffic or children playing, look for a lawn seed with a high traffic tolerance listed. Play areas, especially under swings and other play equipment, also need a tougher turf.
State laws require labeling on grass seed. There's a lot of information listed. For the consumer, look at a few items:
There should be a coverage chart to help you determine how much seed you'll need for your application. Also look to for information on the drop rate for your model of spreader.
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, you can overseed:
If your only problem is a bad spot or two, spot seeding can do the job:
If 50% of the lawn is still good (not bare of grass or full of weeds), repair. If not, start a new lawn. Follow these steps in the area you're repairing or restarting:
The amount and the timing of watering are very important. You must keep newly seeded lawns 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.