When you have a new yard, there are several options for how to start growing grass. One of the most economical ways to start your green and luscious yard is by planting grass seed. It may sound intimidating to start a lawn from scratch, but planting grass seed is very doable on your own if you follow the proper steps. In this guide, we discuss how to seed a lawn to help you get started with how to grow grass yourself.
Time Seeding a Lawn Correctly
The first step for how to seed a lawn is to time the process correctly. Different types of grass need to be planted during different times of the year in order to maximize the growth period and help your lawn start growing well. In the northern half of the United States, the right type of grass is usually a cool-season grass like Kentucky bluegrass or tall fescue. The optimal planting season for cool-season grasses is during the cool weather in the fall or the spring. Daytime temperatures should be around 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit when you start growing grass in your yard.
In the southern half of the country, it’s best to grow warm-season grasses such as Bermuda grass or centipede grass. For warm-season grasses, the best time for growing grass is during the warmer weather during late spring or early summer. The daytime temperatures should be around 80 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, and there should be no risk of frost. If you plant your grass seed at the right time of year, your grass will be able to grow healthy and strong in the right environment.
Prepare Your Yard for Growing Grass
Often the area that will be your lawn is full of mounds of dirt, rocks, and depressions that will harm your lawn later. If you seed your lawn with the bumps and dips, it can cause you problems mowing later and can even cause disease in your new grass. So before you start planting, take some time, and prepare the area.
Remove all the rocks and large objects that you find, including sticks. Smooth the bumps and dips in the dirt. Avoid creating steeper slopes that will be hard to mow and will dry out your grass. You will want to have your yard slope away from buildings at approximately 1 to 2 percent. You can use a bow rake or regular garden rake to smooth your soil and apply the appropriate slope.
Prepare the Soil
One of the most crucial factors in your lawn’s health will be the soil. Before you plant, you will want to test the pH of your soil. This test can be done with a soil samples kit, but you will need to send the soil samples to your county extension service office where they will perform the pH test for you, which could be complicated. Our pH testing services will take the samples, test them, and provide recommendations all in one simple process.
The optimal pH for your soil is between 6.0 and 7.0 for most types of grass. If your pH level is off, you can use soil amendments to alter the levels of acidic and alkaline soil. Alkaline soil is most common in the West while the East and Northeast most often have acidic soil. Sulfur is most often used to alter alkaline soils, and lime is most often used to alter acidic soils. Make sure to follow the guidelines you receive from your soil test.
Your soil test will also indicate what nutrients your soil needs to be optimal. You can use fertilizers and other nutrient boosters to alter the nutrient levels in your soil. In addition, your soil test will tell you more about the composition of your soil, which is important if you’re wondering how to plant grass seed on hard dirt or in sandy soil and other undesirable soil compositions. The key planting grass seed on hard dirt is to try and change that soil composition to make it more hospitable for the new seed. If you have hard dirt, you’ll need to make sure it’s getting enough air by incorporating compost or other organic matter into the soil.
Planting Grass Seed
Once the area and soil are prepared, it’s time to begin planting. Remember to read the instructions and guidelines for your seed before you start, so you’re aware of the individual requirements for your grass. Once you’re ready to start spreading the seed, consider using a spreader to make sure the coverage is uniform.
A drop spreader is smaller and perfect for smaller yards (less than 5,000 sq. ft.) or lawns with tighter areas. This spreader drops the seed in straight lines. But for larger lawns, consider using a broadcast or rotary spreader. These are more efficient for large lawns though they lack the precision of the drop spreader. The goal is to have even coverage, about 10 seeds per square inch depending on grass type.
Cover the Grass Seed
After the seed is spread, it needs to be covered. Use a rake to work the grass seed into the soil, less than ¼ inch down. You can also spread a new layer of topsoil instead of working the seed into the existing soil. If you use topsoil, it’s important not to cover the new seed too much. Again, put less than ¼ of an inch down. The grass seed needs some coverage to keep from being blown away or washed out. But the new grass seed needs the right amount of light to grow well. By covering it with less than ¼ of an inch, the seed will have the light needed to germinate and the protection to establish roots.
Water the Growing Grass
For the grass seed to begin growing, the top inch of the soil needs to be constantly kept moist. But the soil shouldn’t be soggy because that can damage and drown the seeds. To keep the soil properly moist, water the grass two to three times a day with only a light spray. If puddles appear, stop watering. Once the seeds start germinating, the transition from watering often to watering less frequently but more heavily. Once the grass begins to look more mature, transition into watering as you would for a regular lawn.
Planting grass in a new yard yourself is doable with the proper steps. The key is to use the right seed at the right time and in the right soil. Once your lawn is seeded, you’ll be well on your way to the green lawn you’ve always dreamed of. If you are still unsure how to grow grass or are worried about doing it correctly, Lawn Doctor offers power seeding services that can help you start your green yard.