Great lawns are grown from seed every year. The keys to a successful new lawn from seed are choosing the right seed for your particular growing conditions, preparing the soil properly and caring for the newly sprouted grass.
Soil Preparation: 2”-4” of good topsoil or compost amended soil is ideal. If adding soil to an existing area, mix the topsoil or compost with the existing soil. Rake the turned soil to a “chunky” consistency that is smooth and level.
1) PH testing is recommended for a new planting site. The PH of the soil can affect how well the new grass can take up nutrients and grow. PH tests can be purchased and done at home or Flowerland offers PH testing for a small fee. Two cups of soil are needed for an accurate test.
2) Extensive testing may be necessary if the area in question has been difficult to grow and maintain grass in before. Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potash (the three numbers expressed on bags of fertilizer) levels will determine how nice the grass grows and looks.
3) Since newly seeded grass needs to develop roots to survive, it is advised to use a “Starter” fertilizer just prior to seeding. Starter fertilizers have a high Phosphorus, or “middle number” in the analysis. Flowerland recommends Fertilome New Lawn Starter or Sustane Organic seed starter. If you are seeding in the Spring and concerned about Crabgrass control, use Step 1 for Seeding.
4) Many people choose to use a mulch on top of the grass seed to protect the seed and hold moisture since seed should not be allowed to dry out. Flowerland recommends Penn-Mulch or EZ Straw (clean straw) as mulches that will breakdown and become part of the soil as the seed grows. Clean Straw rolls are available for sloped areas to avoid erosion or wash-out of the seed.
Choosing seed: A seed should be selected based on the amount of sunlight the grass will receive, the quality of the soil you are planting it in and how the lawn will be used and cared for.
1) “Sunny Mixes” tend to be high in bluegrass and like 8 hours or more of sun per day to thrive.
2) “Sun & Shade Mixes” tend to be a balanced mix of bluegrass, perennial rye and fine fescue and need 6-8 hours of sun per day to thrive
3) “Shady/Dense Shade Mixes” tend to be high in fine fescue and will thrive in 4-6 hours of sunlight per day.
Seeds for special conditions such as less than 4 hours of sunlight per day, poor soils and high traffic use are available.
Coverage: To figure out how much seed you will need, first you need to know the size of the area you are seeding. An average city lot is 5,000 square feet. But figuring out your area is as easy as measuring the length of the area and how wide it is and multiplying the two numbers together (ex. 20’ x 100’ would be 2,000 square feet). Once you know how much area you need to cover, and you have picked the appropriate seed, you can figure out how much seed you will need. “Sunny” blends will require fewer pounds than “Shady” blends because the growth habit of the grasses in each mix is different.
Care after planting: Make sure to lightly water the seeded area right after planting and continue to water it lightly every day (in very warm weather you may have to water twice a day) until the new seeds start to sprout (depending on the grass seed mix, this could be 4-28 days). Once the seed is actively growing, continue to water regularly until the seed is well established (2-4 weeks minimum). A second application of fertilizer can be made 4 weeks after the Starter to encourage growth. Grass is not “mature” until it has been mowed 4 times on a regular mowing schedule. Do not apply weed controls to grass until it is mature and established. To keep grass healthy, help maintain moisture and reduce weeds, mow on a higher setting (3”-4”).