New Lawn Seeding
Although the heat is still at maximum capacity the days are getting shorter and it’s time to remember that fall is right around the corner. I know the kids are dreading going back to school but to the parents out there, I know you’ve been counting down the days until back to school and you can have your peace and quiet back. All summer long there’s been parties, barbecues, and various feet scampering all over the lawn and no matter how many hours you’ve put into your lawn throughout the summer there will be spots that need rejuvenation.
Spot or general lawn seeding is sometimes needed. Lawns can thin because of weather, a result of damage caused by insects, or grass diseases. Some badly damaged lawns need to be completely “rebuilt” before regular maintenance can do much good. If you aren’t quite sure where your lawn falls on the spectrum don’t be shy, reach out to us, we’d love to help you out!
Some more helpful tips to keep in mind…
Before you begin seeding a lawn, consider the current season.
- It’s true that seeding can be successful any time of year, but spring and summer lawn seeding require more care and water, and weeds and crabgrass cause a lot more competition. Seeding a lawn in late summer or fall is ideal. Early fall is preferred because seeds can germinate faster in the warm soil and continue to establish itself through the cooler weather of fall and winter. There’s also more natural water in the fall so less sprinkling is needed.
- A healthy lawn needs good soil. Most turf grasses prefer neutral soils. To be sure that your efforts aren’t in vain, always perform a soil test first and make the recommended amendments.
- Don’t apply a weed preventer (liquid or granular) or use weed and feed fertilizer when planning to sow grass. You can control weeds only after you have mowed new grass seedlings at least four times. Any weed controls applied when you sow seed will prevent germination or kill immature seedlings
Fixing Bare Spots
If your only problem is a bad spot or two, spot seeding can do the job:
- 1. Make sure the damage is not from a pest.
- 2. Remove dead grass and loosen the soil.
- 3. Spread grass seed and rake it in.
- 4. Mulch with a thin layer of weed-free straw, such as wheat straw. As an alternative, you can use a seed starter mat or seed blanket to help keep the seed and loose soil from washing or blowing away.
Repairing or Renovating a Lawn
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:
- 1. Mow shorter than usual.
- 2. Apply nonselective herbicide.
- 3. Wait 10 to 14 days (or as directed by the product label).
- 4. Seed as a new lawn.
Seeding a New Lawn
1. Test the soil pH: If your pH is lower than 6.0, your soil is too acidic and you’ll need to add lime in Step 4. If it’s above 7.5, the soil is too alkaline. For moderately alkaline soil add peat moss in Step 4; for very alkaline soil, use sulfur.
2. Remove Rocks and Roots: Using a pointed shovel, dig up all rocks and roots that are visible including any stones that won’t fit through the tines of a garden rake. Fill holes and depressions with topsoil dug up from a high spot.
3. Add sand and compost: Cover the planting area with 1 inch of sand. Distribute it as evenly as possible with a shovel. Use a rotary tiller to incorporate the sand into the topsoil.
Now cover the area with an inch of compost, distributing it in the same manner as the sand. Again, use a rotary tiller to incorporate the compost into the soil and sand.
4. Amend the soil: Distribute peat moss with a shovel from a wheelbarrow. For lime or sulfur, apply it with a walk-behind broadcast spreader, set to the appropriate distribution rate. Coat the entire area, making sure you don’t miss any spots. Next, use the broadcast spreader to apply starter fertilizer to the entire area. Make sure the spreader is adjusted to distribute at the rate outlined on the fertilizer packaging.
5. Rake the soil: Use a metal garden rake to carefully work the lime (or sulfur) and fertilizer into the top inch of soil.
6. Spread the grass seed: Disperse grass seed evenly over the soil, cranking the handle of a handheld broadcast spreader. For larger lawns, use a walk-behind spreader.
7. Rake in the grass seed: Take a plastic leaf rake, turn it upside down, and use the back of the tines to gently work the seeds into the soil.
8. Water Regularly : Immediately after sowing the seeds, lightly water the area with a fan-or oscillating-type sprinkler. Set up one or more sprinklers, or move the sprinkler to ensure that the entire area gets dampened.
For the first 8 to 10 days, water two or three times daily, but only for 5 to 10 minutes. Avoid overwatering, which may wash away the seeds. Once the grass sprouts, water once a day for 15 to 30 minutes. It’s typically best to water in the morning, when there’s less evaporation. Avoid watering in the evening; it can lead to fungal diseases.