A verdantly green and beautiful lawn is not the sort of thing that just happens overnight. Like all great things, it starts small with quality grass seed, and the right techniques to let it grow. This might be starting over from a fresh patch of soil, needing to seed a full large lawn, or you simply need to grow new grass in an area where weeds were removed, or an old garden shed was taken away.
Whatever the reason or the scale of the area, you can use the following steps to plant grass seeds for a bold, beautiful, green lawn.
Buying the Best Grass Seed for Your Lawn
You might be surprised to hear that not all grass seeds are created equal. In fact, there are a lot of different types of grass. Some that grow thick blades, like Bermuda, and some grow thin blades like fescue.
There are even different root characteristics that will affect how the grass takes up water and key nutrients from the turf. This can also be an important factor if you have soil that is overly sandy or has a high percentage of clay.
You also have to take into account the sun conditions of your lawn and how they change. If one part of your yard gets a lot of full sun throughout the day, and another part is trapped in dappled shade for more than 6 hours in the peak of summer, you might need to plant different types of seeds in these two disparate locations.
Finding top-quality grass seeds starts with prioritizing seeds and blends of seeds that are NTEP rated. This essentially means it has been independently evaluated and rated by the National Turf Evaluation Program, (NTEP). When you purchase a type of grass seed with an NTEP rating, it means that you are purchasing grass seeds that have been specifically bred for superior green grass color, disease and insect resistance, and drought tolerance.
Popular Grass Seeds to Consider
The following are some popular types of grass seed that you might find with an NTEP rating. Sometimes you see them as pure seed, or as part of a blend for a specific type of conditions such as full sun or partial shade.
Bahia is a strong grass that does best in warm seasonal locations. It is popular in regions that are known for humidity and heat. It also modest need for water and will thrive under full sun or partial shade.
Bermuda is a warm-season grass that grows vigorously and does a good job of quickly filling up your lawn. Though it needs to be watered frequently and does best in full sun to grow to its maximum potential.
St. AUGUSTINE Grass
St. Augustine is a slow-growing type of grass that has coarse blades with somewhat rounded tips. St. Augustine is highly heat-resistant and very tough. Its slow growth trait means that your patience will be rewarded with a very resilient root base.
Fine Fescue Grass
Fine fescue grass is a fast-growing type of grass with thin blades and pointed edges. It’s frequently used in seed mixes, often mixed with ryegrass and bluegrass seeds.
Kentucky bluegrass is a very popular type of grass seed grown in the cooler northern regions of the United States. Though it is still most popular in the state of Kentucky. The blades have very attractive V-shaped blades in dark green colors that are incredibly soft yet resistant to lawnmowers and foot traffic.
Perennial ryegrass tends to have soft, thin and pointed leaves that allow it to endure a lot of foot traffic. It’s very common as it germinates rapidly and grows well in shade and sun, and gets established quicker than other types of cool-season grass seeds.
Tall Fescue GRASS
Tall fescue is a type of grass that does a good job of enduring dry and hot weather. It has tough, thick, blades with a rich dark, green-colored leaves that can tolerate lawnmowers and high amounts of foot traffic quite well.
Annual Rye Grass
Annual ryegrass is a special type of “Nurse Grass.” It germinates rapidly and at a high percentage. It quickly develops strong roots and thick blades that do a great job of holding the soil to help resist erosion. Though it only lives for one year.
Choosing an NTEP-rated variety of annual ryegrass to add to another type of grass, or choosing a blended variety with a percentage of annual ryegrass that is above 15% will help hold soil in place, while other slower-growing varieties establish themselves. Annual ryegrass can pay for itself in droves if you need to plant grass seed on a slope or hilly lawn.
Preparing the Soil Before Planting Grass Seed
Once you’ve found the right grass seed or seed blend for your lawn, your focus can turn to prepare the soil for planting. This involves the following steps:
- Step One: Loosen the top 2 to 3 inches of soil. Make sure to remove debris like sticks, and stones as you go.
- Step Two: Level any areas where excess water might collect.
- Step Three: Cast the grass seed in an even pattern. This might call for a hand spreader for small areas or a towable device that casts grass seed in a broad, metered, even swath.
The goal is to apply at a density of roughly 16 seeds per square inch.
Watering Grass Seed
Grass seed needs water to germinate and develop strong roots. However, too much water can essentially wash grass seed away. This can be very damaging to fledgling roots and can lead to massive areas with empty spots where germination failed.
Ideally, you want to water your grass seed lightly multiple times per day. The most important of these watering sessions is in the early morning to allow the soil to soak up moisture before the sun and heat of the day can evaporate it.
What Is The Best Time of Year to Plant Grass Seed?
Planting grass seeds in the spring or in the fall will generally yield the best results. If you’re a spring planting of grass seed, don’t apply any weed control products or preventers to the turf. You want to put off all weed control applications until the grass seed has fully germinated and you have had the chance to mow the grass at least three times.