Is there anything like the feeling of walking barefoot across your lawn, feeling the soft, lush grass beneath your feet?
A beautifully groomed lawn is the pride and joy of many homeowners. However, healthy green grass doesn’t just grow on its own. You have to face a lot of sweat, blood, and tears to get that enviable immaculate lawn.
Starting seeds can be a daunting and frustrating process.
There are a lot of step-by-step processes that need to be carefully carried out and they have the potential to overwhelm you.
However, there is something magical about seeing new grass growing under your care.
If you are hoping to start a lawn, this guide can help you in your landscaping venture.
- 1 When Should You Start Seeding Your Lawn?
- 2 What is Overseeding?
- 3 How Much Of Seed Do You Need?
- 4 Manual Seeding Vs Automatic Seeding
- 5 Step-by-Step Guide
- 6 Bottom Line
When Should You Start Seeding Your Lawn?
Your grass will grow fastest and healthiest if you sow seeds during seasons that naturally help their growth. Like all plants, there are different types of grass that vary in their temperature preferences and growth cycles.
Fall: The fall season is the best time for seeding your lawn because the temperature has started to drop, but the days are still long enough to provide good sunlight and the soil is still warm. This allows the seeds to stay moist and grow well.
Ideally, cool-season seeds germinate the best when the daytime temperature is between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit; so late August till early October is the best window for germinating your seeds.
Spring: If you missed seeding your lawn in fall, spring is the second-best time to plant grass seeds. This is the time when the frost has melted and the soil has warmed enough to nurture the germination of the seeds.
However, your grass may have less time to grow before the hot temperature stops germination. Generally, mid-April to June is a good time to sow your grass seeds.
Apart from that, warm-season grass grows the best when daytime air temperatures are 80 degrees Fahrenheit or more.
Planting in late spring gives this grass the benefits of warm soil and spring rains, which keep the soil moist and promote germination.
Winter: Frost inhibits seed germination and winter days are too short to offer sufficient sunlight to nurture the young grass.
In extreme southern states, winter germination may work, but in other parts of the United States, winter is not right the time to spruce your lawn.
Summer: The high temperatures of summer can dry out and scorch the new seeds and young grass saplings. Your lawn will also see a lot of children and pet activity during the summer that can trample the delicate seeds.
What is Overseeding?
Overseeding is the sowing of grass seeds directly on top of the existing turf, without tearing up the existing grass or soil. Overseeding is recommended when your grass is performing poorly, showing bare spots, or is lacking in density.
Additionally, if you have warm-season grass that goes brown during the winter you can overseed with cool-season grass seeds so that you can enjoy an emerald green lawn all year round. Grass that is prone to insects or diseases can also be reseeded.
Advantages of Overseeding
Many older lawns are disease or insect prone and require more water and frequent fertilization. Overseeding newer varieties of grass onto your older grass can help protect your lawn against diseases, insects, shady conditions, drought, and traffic.
Though overseeding may be quite expensive, it can pay itself off by reducing your need for water, fertilizes, and insecticides. An overseeded lawn also looks thicker, lush, and greener.
An overseeded lawn can grow full and healthy grass in just eight weeks. Depending on the variety of grass and environmental conditions, your new grass will start to grow in 5 to 7 days.
Water needs are critical for the successful germination of grass seeds. Immediately after sowing, water heavily to soak the seeds. In the first 20 to 14 days, you can water the seeds lightly on a daily basis.
Once germination occurs, you can start watering less frequently. When you do water, make sure the moisture goes deep into the soil to encourage deep root growth.
Once the grass has become fully established, water the lawn based on the recommended level for your variety of grass.
A beautiful and lush lawn can increase the equity of your home value. A little bit of care and patience is the key.
How Much Of Seed Do You Need?
Grass seeds can be pretty expensive, depending on how big your lawn is.
So it isn’t wise to waste your money on a surplus of seeds.
Conversely, you also should not buy too little seeds or your lawn may not germinate well and look patchy.
Although figuring out how much seeds you need for your garden can seem pretty frustrating, by applying a simple mathematical formula, you can quickly come up with the exact amount you need.
Measure your Lawn
The first thing you need to do is to measure your lawn.
Working out the size of a square or rectangular lawn is pretty simple:
For Square/Rectangle Lawns: Multiply length with the breadth.
For example, if your lawn measures 60 feet by 45 feet, then:
60 x 45 = 2700 sq. ft is the size of your lawn
For Circular Lawns: Multiply radius by the radius and then to the value of pi (3.14)
For example, a lawn that is 30 feet across has a radius of 15 feet, then:
15 x 15 x 3.14= 706 sq. ft is the size of your lawn
For Triangular Lawns: Take the longest side of a triangle and divide it by two. Then multiple the number with the height.
For example, if the longest side of a triangular lawn is 40 feet and its height is 15 feet, then:
40/2= 20 x 15 = 300 sq. ft is the size of your lawn
For Odd-Shaped Lawns: Most lawns do not have a specific shape and it is much more of a challenge to calculate their area. To determine their size, you will need the help of a graph paper.
Measure the length and width of your entire lawn and draw it on the paper. A single square on the paper can represent 1 foot.
Measure garden features like patio, decks, fountains, gazebos, pathways, and fences, and draw them to scale on your map. Once all these things are done, draw the outline of your lawn. This can give you a good representation of your lawn’s area.
Count all the complete squares and note down their number. Then count all the partial squares and make a calculated guess as to how many full squares they will make. By adding the tow number, you can get a pretty good idea of the square meter of your lawn.
Determine Your Seed Types
There are a large variety of seeds and the cultivar or blend you buy will determine how much you need to adequately seed your lawn.
Additionally, seeding on new soil will require more seed than if you are overseeding. To make matters more complicated, the larger the seeds, the more quantity you will require.
Here are a few example:
Approx. 2 lbs of seed per 1,000 square feet.
Overseeding: 0.5 lbs to 1 lbs per 1,000 square feet.
Approx. 2 to 3 lbs of seed per 1,000 square feet
Overseeding: 0.5 lbs to 1 lbs per 1,000 square feet.
Perenial rye grass
Approx. 5 to 8 lbs per 1,000 square feet
Overseeding: 3 lbs to 4 lbs per 1,000 square feet.
Approx. 6 to 8 lbs per 1,000 square feet
Overseeding: 3 lbs to 4 lbs per 1,000 square feet.
Approx. 4 to 5 lbs per 1,000 square feet
Overseeding: 2 lbs to 3 lbs per 1,000 square feet.
Manual Seeding Vs Automatic Seeding
There are various ways you can apply seeds to your newly prepared ground. Many homeowners use their hands to scatter seeds on the ground.
Although there is nothing wrong with this manual mode of seeding, sometimes the seeds may spread unevenly. Additionally, it is also quite work-intensive, so it is most suitable for smaller lawns.
Therefore a good idea is to use a mechanical spreader that will automatically spread seeds as you tow it along.
If you have a large lawn, broadcast spreaders or drop spreaders are great options for seeding.
Broadcast seeders or rotary seeder spread the seeds over the soil using a rotary that flings the seeds in a specific radius.
This seeding method is recommended for seeding new soil but not so much for overseeding.
If you only have a broadcast seeder, a good idea is to aerate the soil before broadcasting seeds. A core-type aerator that pulls out plugs of soil can help provide better contact between the seed and soil.
The aerating cores should not be more than 2 to 3 inches apart.
Once the seeds have been broadcast, water them heavily so they settle down into the aerating holes.
Make sure you use cultivars of grasses that have a creeping growth.
Grass varieties that do not creep will grow only inside the aerating holes and will give your lawn a clumped and patchy look.
Another issue with the broadcast seeding method is that some seeds get tangled up in thatch which can prevent germination. It also requires more seeds.
Slit seeding is done through a mechanical slit seeder that digs small grooves in the soil and drops seeds into the furrows, ensuring good seed-to-soil contact. This is the best method if you want to overseed your turf.
A slit seeder works by slicing very narrows furrows into the soil with verticutting blades that cut through the layer of thatch. Typically, the depth of the slit should be no more than half the length of the grass seed husk.
These devices have concave disk blades that go into the grooves, keeping them open as seeds are dropped. This ensures that seeds can germinate more easily.
For homeowner use, small tow-along models are available. Slit-seeders are also attached to large trucks for commercial use.
Slit-seeding requires fewer seeds than the broadcasting method because the seed has a greater chance of getting into the soil and germinate. This means a thicker and more luxuriant turf.
Growing a new lawn from grass seeds is one of the simplest ways to improve your home’s curb appeal. Here is a step-by-step guide to seeding new soil:
#1: Getting Rid of Old Soil
If your soil is old, it may have diminished in quality. Additionally, it may also have become a breeding ground for weeds. So you need to get rid of it.
You can use shovels and rakes to dig out the old sod but if you want an easier way to remove all the vegetation, a nondiscriminatory broad-spectrum herbicide can do the trick.
Make sure you prevent any runoffs and do not use chemicals excessively as you still want to preserve the rich topsoil.
Once the soil is loosened and the weeds removed, you can break up the layer of topsoil to spread your seeds.
You can use a rake or better yet, a core aerator to dig holes in the topsoil. If your soil has any low spots, now is a good time to fill it in with a mixture of topsoil and sand.
#2: Test Your Soil
No matter how high quality your grass seeds are, they will not germinate well if your soil is of poor quality. To make sure this doesn’t happen, you need to check the pH and the nutrients in your soil.
Ideally, your soil will by slightly acidic with a pH of 6.2 to 7. You should also check your soil for key nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. All fertilizers contain these nutrients, so if your soil is lacking, you can enrich it.
To add the essential nutrients, till your soil to about five inches of depth and then work in the amendments evenly.
#3: Pick your Grass Seeds
If you live in the northern states, the climate is cooler there, so you can select a variety of cool-season grass. The most popularly used cool-season grasses are Kentucky bluegrass seed, tall fescue mix seeds, fine fescue seeds, ryegrass, and bentgrass seeds.
If you live in a warmer climate, you can pick Bermuda grass seed, buffalo grass seed, centipede grass seed, Bahiagrass seed, and Zoysia grass seeds.
If you live in between the Southern and Northern states, you live in the transition zone, which witnesses sweltering summers and subzero winters.
In these areas, you will have to either find the most heat-tolerant cool-season grass or the most cold-tolerant warm-season grass, which can be a bit of a challenge.
Grass seeds are sold as one variety, a blend of multiple types of the same variety of grass seeds, or mixtures of different varieties. All of these grasses have a unique look and uses.
If you use one type of seed only, your grass will have a more even and uniform look. If you use blends, their slightly less uniform look will cover up small defects or weaknesses in your garden.
Mixtures will offer you a unique-looking and biologically diverse lawn. Even though your lawn will not be even, the diverse varieties of grass will provide it more protection against insects and diseases.
#4: Plant Your Grass Seed
Once the soil is ready and your seeds are selected, now you need to sow them.
If you are planting grass in a small area, hand-seeding is fine. You can also use slit-seeders or rotary seeders for sowing the seeds.
If your lawn is very large, you may require the assistance of commercial landscapers.
Check the section “How much of seed do you need?” above to find out how much seeds you require for successful germination. Once you have determined the amount, start sowing.
If you are using a seeder, make sure it is set at the appropriate setting so that the right amount of seeds is planted.
Once the seeds are placed, spread fertilizer and use a light rake to mix it evenly with the seeds. You can also use an empty roller to improve germination.
#5: Water Your Seeds
If you don’t give your seeds the right amount of water, all your painstaking efforts will be for nothing.
Seeds can only germinate once and that means sufficient water.
Make sure you keep the top layer of soil about half an inch moist, otherwise the germinating seeds will dry out and die.
Also do not water excessively as too much water can wash away the seed.
You may need to water your lawn once a day and sometimes even twice a day if the heat and wind have dried out the soil.
Remember that different types of grass seeds will germinate at different rates.
So if you are using a mixture, you will need to keep watering every day until the last species emerges.
Growing your lawn is a bit like taking care of a baby. Until your seeds fully germinate and your grass is established, it will require constant care every day.
However, once the grass is fully grown, you will be rewarded with the sight of emerald green, lush lawn.