Winter takes a toll on your lawn, leaving thin and weak areas. We know that we have to wait as the other plants follow their normal growth habits, but our lawn is another story. We are able to control the growth of our lawn. We are the”‘master of the lawn”. We have the tools, we have the lawn care technology, and we have the satisfaction of knowing everything about growing grass. How difficult can seeding a lawn be? You throw some fertilizer on it, throw some seed on it, water it a little and, viola, a picture perfect lawn. Right? – Wrong.
Feed The Grass – Not The Birds
Take some grass seed, spread it around the lawn, and it is finished. If your goal is to feed the birds, then follow that process.
If it was as easy as all that, then a multi-million dollar lawn service industry built around caring for home lawns would not exist. Most homeowners do not have the experience or expertise to provide the correct amounts of fertilizers and pest control products to sustain a healthy lawn. Most do not even mow or water properly. This is why lawn care services, such as those provided by Spring-Green, are so important to homeowners. Of all the practices of good turf maintenance, seeding a lawn is probably one of the most misunderstood.
Before you begin seeding your lawn, make sure to ask yourself these questions:
- “Why Am I Reseeding?” This is the first question you should ask.
- Are there bare spots that require new lawn care?
- Are there areas that are thin and weak due to shady conditions?
- Is there damage that needs lawn repair from past insect or disease activity?
- Are there areas that are thin due to repeated foot traffic or pet activity?
You need to assess the need for new lawn seeding before you proceed. Spots, smaller than a salad plate, will generally fill-in, assuming the lawn receives the recommended fertilization application that type of grass requires. Larger areas will need lawn repair in some fashion.
- “Should Lawn Seeding Be Done In The Spring, Summer, or Fall?”
Seeding a lawn should almost always be performed in the fall, regardless of your location. New grass is very tender and will succumb to the heat of summer. Special conditions occur that may necessitate seeding in spring. If the previous damage is extensive or the area is very shady, it is better to seed in the spring. Wait until the weather warms up and the chance of frost has passed before seeding a lawn, however. Seed shady areas before the leaves open in the spring to allow sunlight to penetrate to the seeded area. It may require more water to keep the tender plants alive.
- “What Type Of Grass Do I Have?”
Many times, homeowners will buy an inexpensive seed they find at a lawn and garden center or discount store. It may or may not be the same type of grass that is in their lawn. If it is not, then the result is a ‘patchwork’ look of different grasses growing throughout the lawn. If you do not know, find out. Cut out a 3-to-4” patch of grass and take it to a reputable garden center or to your local county extension service for identification. If you have a lawn service, ask them to come out to identify the type of grass in your lawn. Many lawn care services offer seeding as an optional service. They can advise you on the procedures and costs of seeding your lawn. Once you have identified the type of grass in your lawn, purchase a good blend of grasses. It is a good idea to invest in good quality seed. Use more than one variety in the blend. For example, if your lawn is a bluegrass/ryegrass blend, then purchase a lawn seeding mix that is about 70% bluegrass and 30% perennial ryegrass. Try to find a mix that has three or more types of bluegrass and two or more types of perennial ryegrass. The purpose behind this is that if one type of bluegrass becomes susceptible to a lawn disease and the others are not, then they will be able to take its place in the lawn.
- “How Much Seed Do I Need?”
One of the causes for the failure of seed to grow well is planting too much seed in too small an area. When too much seed is placed in a small area, the competition for space is intense. Several naturally occurring seedling blights can kill new plants. If the seed is growing too close together, these seedling blights can kill a newly seeded area overnight. There are different recommendations for each variety of seed, so check with the place where you purchase the seed for the recommended amount to use when seeding a lawn. Several small spots may require a pound or less, whereas a large area of one thousand square feet may require three or more pounds of seed. This may not seem like a lot of seed, but a pound of Kentucky Bluegrass seed has over a million seeds.
- “How Do I Prepare The Area?”
If you are lawn seeding small spots or areas, remove the dead grass by raking it. You do not have to remove every single plant. If possible, break up the ground to loosen it. Breaking up the soil will provide a better site for the seed to grow. Sprinkle a small amount of seed into the spot. Lightly step on the area to affix the seed to the soil. You may wish to sprinkle a little peat moss on the area to hold in moisture. You may also add some bagged topsoil on the spot before seeding a lawn, but this can add unknown weed seeds into the area. Larger areas require preparation that is more extensive. Unless you have past experience using machines such as a slit-seeder, core aerator, power rake, or rototiller, it is best to hire an outside service to do the work.
- “How Often Do I Water The Spots?”
Keep the seeded areas moist for 14 to 21 days to ensure good germination. It is better to water the areas in the morning or early afternoon. Light, frequent watering is better than infrequent, heavy watering. Once the seed starts to come up, continue watering until the area has been mow two or three times. Follow normal watering practices after that point.
- “When Can I Mow The Areas?”
Mow the lawn as you normally do. It will not hurt the new plants. Keep foot traffic to a minimum, but an occasional step or two on the new grass will not hurt it.
Sod Is A Viable Alternative
When faced with repairing large areas of lawn, sod is an option to consider; however, there are different procedures to follow.
We hope this information will help you with your plans on reseeding. As we mentioned earlier, large scale new lawn care and seeding is best left to the professionals.