Whether you are a new homeowner or have owned the property for some time, whether you have always had a lawn or are just starting to think about putting in your very first, one thing is certain: You don’t know much about grass seed.
Grass does grow from seeds, and it’s important that homeowners who have or wish for lawns become familiar with various aspects of grass seed — from their varieties to their spread to their growth. Here are a few common questions about grass seed answered fully, so you can start growing your lawn correctly.
What Grass Seed Should I Buy?
This depends largely on the region in which you are growing your lawn. Different types of grass grow better in different areas because they have different needs and resistances with regards to sunshine, water, soil type, etc. Additionally, your preferences for your lawn will dictate what variety of seed you choose. Some grasses are quite delicate but enchantingly green and soft; some are hardier to traffic but a bit prickly to the touch; some grow fast, others slow… Because of this wide variation, it’s wise to talk to a grass seed purveyor in your area to get more detailed information.
However, for some general advice, consult this guide:
- Northeast: bluegrasses, ryegrasses, and fescues
- Midwest: ryegrasses, bluegrasses, and fescues
- Southeast: Bermudagrass
- Deep South: Bahiagrass and centipede grass
- Southwest: Bermudagrass, Zoysiagrass, and St. Augustine
- Pacific Northwest: ryegrasses and fescues
When Should I Plant Grass Seed?
Unfortunately (as is the case with many of these questions) the answer here depends largely on your region and the type of grass you have selected. Cool-season grasses grow best when temperatures are between 60- and 80-degrees Fahrenheit — usually early fall or late spring. Meanwhile, warm-season grasses prefer temps between 75 and 90 degrees, making summertime planting ideal.
How Do I Spread Grass Seed?
How you spread grass seed generally depends on what you are trying to do with the seed.
Reseeding is the process of growing an entirely new lawn, usually of a different grass variety. Because you want an even spread of the seed over your entire lawn area, you will need to invest in a drop spreader. This makes reseeding lawn fast and easy, and it all but guarantees uniform growth.
However, if you are looking into grass seed merely to fill in thin or bare patches in your existing lawn, this process is called overseeding. Typically, you don’t need to overseed your entire lawn; instead, you want to fill in gaps with a bunch of new seed. For overseeding, you can use your hand to sprinkle seeds in targeted spots.
What Should I Do After Spreading Grass Seed?
Grass seed isn’t a set-and-forget endeavor. As soon as you lay down seed, you should be working to ensure the seed germinates. At the bare minimum, this means watering diligently, keeping the top inch of soil moist for the first two to three weeks. But for greater success, you should also feed your seed with starter fertilizer, which is high in root-stimulating phosphorus. You can also toss compost into your soil before laying seed for an extra boost.
Does New Grass Require Special Care?
In addition to frequent waterings, you should be careful about how you treat your baby lawn. The new grass is relatively delicate, which means it probably can’t handle a mow until it is between 3 and 4 inches tall. It’s also not a good idea to spray any kind of weed-killer around your new lawn because herbicides are formulated to wipe out seeds and brand-new growth, so all your reseeding or overseeding work would be wasted. Furthermore, you should avoid walking on your new lawn (or, heaven forbid, parking vehicles on it), which could crush the roots and compact the soil.
In truth, all grass requires special care. Because grass doesn’t grow naturally the way homeowners want it to, you need to be attentive to your grass’s needs and willing to provide frequent care. If you aren’t able to devote much time and energy to your lawn, you might want to hire lawn care professionals to do it for you.
It Didn’t Grow. Now What?
There are dozens of things that can go wrong when planting grass seed — the lawn could have been too wet, or not wet enough; the lawn could have been shocked by weather conditions or incompatible with your soil type. If this happens more than once, you should contact a professional lawn care provider for more help.