Tips for Planting Grass
Are you looking to plant grass seed on your lawn but don't know the best way to go about it? This article is for you. This guide will walk you through the steps for prepping your lawn to plant new grass, including timing and how to spread the seed most effectively.
Select the Best Kind of Seed for Your Area
Different Types of Grass and What You Need to Know About Them
Here are a few examples of the most common lawn grasses planted in the US:
1 Cynodon dactylon; Also known as Bermuda grass, this popular warm season grass is grown directly from the seed. The grass does well in heat and saline conditions and thrives in acidic soil with a pH range of six to seven. It produces seed heads under stress conditions. The grass produces numerous small seeds. Bermuda grass thrives in the US Department of Agriculture zone seven through ten.
2 St. Augustine grass; It is also a warm-season grass. It is, however, difficult to grow from seeds. You may need to use sod, which means laying the sod in high-moisture soils to spare yourself the hard work of watering. Because of its tolerance to humidity and salt, it is perfect for lawns in coastal regions, for instance, the South-Eastern US.
3 Zoysia grass; This grass thrives in the transition zone. However, it's important to remember that some types of Zoysia grass only grow from sod or grass springs. It is a perfect choice for those living in southern areas. The farther north it is planted, the more likely Zoysia is to be affected by weather changes hence a lower survival rate.
4 Kentucky bluegrass; It is a cool-season grass that thrives with warm summers and cold winters. Its favorable soil pH is 6.0 to 7.0. It grows well from the west coast to the east coast throughout the northern US. However, extensive irrigation can help the grass cope with the heat if you live in the South and in the Southwest.
5 Fescue grass; It is also a cool season grass that maintains its lushness in freezing temperatures. Its seeds germinate faster than other grass types. It can grow in plain and mountainous regions due to its ability to grow in rocky soil. It can survive in nitrogen-deficient soils and salty soils. If you are in a drought-prone area, it copes by turning brown and dormant, but it will still survive.
6 Tall Fescue grass; This grass grows well directly from its seed. Though it is a cool season grass, its extensive root enables it to cope with dry conditions better. It is another ideal lawn grass for the transition zone. Due to its high adaptability and recovery, it is ideal for areas with lots of foot traffic. It grows in sandy, silt, clay, and loam soils. It is suitable for lawns in the north and southern transitional regions.
Plant During the Best Season for Your Area
The right season to plant your grass depends on the grass type. For cool-season grasses, early fall is the best time. The sun is not as harsh now, and the temperatures are not high. Doing so also helps give the new seedlings enough time to develop in cool mixed conditions. Another advantage of planting grass during fall is that it's a good time to fertilize. The roots will go deeper, and you'll have a more lush lawn when spring comes. Late spring and early summer is the ideal time to plant warm-season grass. It is because these seeds require warmer soil temperatures.
Prep the Ground for Planting
How you cultivate your ground to plant the grass depends on your planting purpose. For example, if you're seeding a bare spot, you'll use a different approach and tools than when you cultivate a lawn for the first time.
In preparing the ground, there are some basic steps you can follow. First is to clear the area you are preparing. You could use a rotary tiller because young grassroots require oxygen. It's important as it enables oxygen to penetrate the soil. It also helps to remove any natural or artificial debris that may block the grass' growth.
You can also improve the soil. One way is by knowing the pH of your soil. You can do so with a testing meter. If you find the pH levels lower than expected, add some lime. Another method would be sprinkling wood ash on the allotted ground. It is an effective and more natural method to raise the pH of your soil to the optimum window.
However, if the soil's pH is higher than is needed, you can lower it by incorporating organic matter into the bed. It is, however, a slow method. Adding Aluminium Sulfate will give you results more rapidly. If the soil type isn't ideal, it can also improve. For instance, you could incorporate sharp sand if you live in a clay soil area. It would significantly improve drainage.
The second step is to create a level seed bed. You do this by repeatedly dragging a level edge in multiple directions over the ground you are preparing. An example of a tool you could use is a rake. Rotovating the ground before using a rake helps mix the soil and break it up.
Leveling is an important step not just for aesthetic purposes but also important in mitigating soil erosion. It would also help limit the forming of patches and aquaplaning in areas of your lawn. After raking, you can finish using a lawn roller to firm the ground.
The third step is to let your ground settle. Watering it at this stage can help you identify potential puddle spots and low spots. You can do this by watering the area and letting it be for at least two days or even a month just to be sure, and then watering it again. This step also allows you to combat persistent weeds before sowing your grass.
The fourth step is adding a pre-seeding or turfing fertilizer. It is necessary to ensure the ground has the required nutrients. The fertilizer helps the young grass take root rapidly and remain strong and healthy. The primary nutrient required by the grass is nitrogen, while Phosphate is essential in germination. You can begin applying nitrogen at this stage at a ratio of 10 percent or lower; it should be in a urea-based form.
The final step would be to gently work the prepared ground with a rake to make a fine tilth.
Dampen the Ground With the Hose
You can water the ground with a hand or a hose-end sprinkler. Such dampening must be consistent and even. You should also note shaded areas of the lawn to prevent over-watering.
Spreading the Seed
The method of spreading the seed will depend on the area to be covered. For instance, you can fling the seed over a small area. A limitation of this method is you might lose your seeds to the elements and end up with an uneven lawn. You can also use a spreader for larger areas. The spacing as you do the spreading is also important. For instance, placing sixteen to twenty-one seeds per square inch. That way, once the seeds germinate, their roots won't compete with each other upon sprouting. But, also remember that it is a lawn and thus be cautious not to spread them too farther apart.
Tools for spreading the seed include a broadcast spreader and a mechanical seeder. Broadcast spreaders can hold a huge amount of seed. You can also use a push or tow-behind broadcast spreader and a gravity hand-held spreader. These are suited if you are on a budget and the lawn is small to medium.
Hydroseeding is suitable for spreading seed in a communal area or on a large scale. In this method, you mix the seed with a suitable solvent like water and an extra additive like mulch to keep it humid and in position. You use a high-pressure hose, a holding tank, and a generator. You can rent scaled-down hydroseeding equipment for use on your lawn. This method of spreading seed also works for difficult-to-reach areas, for instance, steep slopes.
Feed With Fertilizer
If you want a lush lawn, you will need to put some effort into applying fertilizer. These follow-up fertilizer applications will help your sprouting lawn cope with the change of seasons. Just as with sowing the seeds for grass, to fertilize at the ideal time of the season is crucial. In the Northern US, you may want to apply your fertilizer a bit earlier than November to maintain your health, while in the South, early November would be the time to do it.
Another important thing to remember in choosing the best fertilizer for new grass is that there are two categories to choose from: Regular, also known as slow-release, and starter, also referred to as quick-release. You can choose from either two depending on whether it is pre-seeding fertilizer application or post. Also, learning to interpret the core nutrients in a given fertilizer is important. There are usually: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium with each fertilizer having the three combined in different ratios. It means you can choose the right fertilizer to apply to your lawn based on the problem you are fixing. For example, nitrogen is important for leaf growth, phosphorus helps in root growth; potassium helps strengthen disease resistance.
A grown lawn requires higher nitrogen amounts. It means you would need a fertilizer with a higher nitrogen ratio. It is also important to not overdo it. Too much fertilizer could prove destructive as it could burn already established grass. Also, you should only apply starter fertilizer once. It is because reapplying after you have already done so could reach the water table, among many other harmful effects.
Cover With Hay
The elements, together with birds and animals, pose a real threat to your grass seed sprouting on your lawn. For this reason, you should apply hay to safeguard the establishment of your lawn. It helps to keep the ground moist, especially on hot days, thus giving the seeds some needed soil moisture to germinate. Applying a material such as hay on a sloping ground would help keep the grass seeds in position. It is, however, important to ensure that whichever mulching material is free from mold so as not to introduce it to the lawn.
Continue Watering as the Seed Grows
To keep your developing lawn lush, you will need to water it regularly. Here are some tips to remember:
-Water your lawn deeply as opposed to simply showering it. It will help ensure your lawn grass develops a deep root system.
-Water in the morning as opposed to the afternoon or the evening.
-Do not water your maturing lawn if it is raining.
-If your lawn is on clay, you may water only once or twice a week.
-If water is running off, you may want to apply split applications.
-Remember to let the maturing grass dry off between watering sessions.
-Take note not to irrigate shaded areas over.
Lawns are an essential part of our homes and offices. With the information provided in this guide, you should soon become a pro at establishing lawns. This care for your lawn will certainly pay off.