Growing Grass from Seed: A How-To Guide
Growing grass doesn’t have to be hard — even if you are starting from seeds. Choosing to grow grass from seeds rather than laying down sod is an excellent way to not only develop a healthy, green lawn but also save money.
While folks like the convenience of sod, it is often too expensive an option for many people’s budgets. After all, paying for sod means you are also paying the expenses of having someone else grow the seeds and prepare the squares of sod for sale. If choosing the most cost-efficient method of growing grass is important to you, planting seeds will be the best choice.
Step 1: Determine the Best Time to Begin Planting Grass Seed
Where you are located will determine the best time to actually plant new grass seed. Planting outside your recommended time zones can result in a waste of money on seed that doesn’t sprout properly.
Seeds for grass types in the cool season grass zone should be planted in the spring and early fall. Choosing to plant seeds in this region during these periods of time best coincides with the most active growth periods for cool season grass types.
Warm season grass seeds are best planted during spring and early summer. At these points, the temperatures are continually rising and the threat of a last-minute frost that could kill the seeds has passed.
Step 2: Prepare Your Lawn for New Seed
An unprepared lawn will lead to suboptimal grass growth. One of the first steps in preparing a lawn for new grass seed is grading. Ideally, lawns should be graded around 1-2% downward and away from any structures, such as a house. This allows water to flow away correctly, but not so quickly that the grass misses the necessary moisture for growth.
Removing old turf may be required if you plan to re-do the entire lawn. This involves tearing up old patches of grass to prepare for new seed. Besides physically removing old grass, herbicides can be used to kill them. Most products have a suggested waiting period before attempting to plant new grass seed.
Another important preparation step is making sure the soil is healthy and ready for new seed. Testing your soil’s pH levels will give an accurate view of what nutrients may be missing. To get the most accurate soil test reading, you can reach out to your local soil and water department to obtain tests as well as professional guidance on reading the results. Depending on your lawn’s pH needs, you can then select the best supplements to aid your lawn in growing new grass seed.
Step 3: Choose the Right Seeds and Plant Them
Selecting the right seeds for your lawn sounds tricky, but it isn’t a complicated process. Your primary focus should be choosing a brand of seed that delivers quality performance. When selecting seed brands, consider factors such as drought performance, water-conserving ability, and overall performance on home lawns.
It is also important to determine a grass seed that will flourish in your growing zone. For example, if you live in the Southern United States, choosing a cool-season zone grass type will result in poorly-growing grass. There are multiple types of grasses that grow well in each of the growing zones.
When you have prepared your soil and selected your seeds, you are then ready to actually plant them. It is recommended that you plant seeds with a spreader to ensure even distribution of the seeds among the entire lawn. Broadcast or rotary spreaders are ideal for larger lawns, and drop spreaders are best for tighter, smaller lawns.
Step 4: Water the Grass Seeds Correctly
Keeping soil moist is the key to successfully kickstarting the growth process. Newly seeded lawns should be watered two to three times per day to keep enough moisture on the lawn for newly planted seeds. Water the lawn until puddles begin to form on the ground.
Once the grass begins to grow, however, watering frequency should be tapered off bit by bit. As grass grows taller, watering sessions should begin to focus on watering more heavily, but less frequently. Watering amounts can begin to taper off once the grass matures.
Step 5: Care for the Matured Grass
Even after your seeds have successfully sprouted into beautiful new green blades of grass, it is crucial to maintain regular and consistent lawn care to keep it looking healthy.
Keeping your lawn on a regular watering and fertilizing schedule will continue to support newly planted grass. Cutting your grass to an appropriate height will keep the lawn looking neat while also keeping it at a reasonable length to encourage increased root growth.