Great lawns start with great seed! Every lawn starts with tiny, but mighty seeds that will ultimately grow green, healthy grass. Cultivating a new lawn may seem like an overwhelming process. We have made it easier for you, however, by giving you everything you need to seed the lawn of your dreams!
Here is your essential, step-by-step guide to seeding a new lawn:
1. Determine the best time to plant grass seed
The first, crucial step to seeding is knowing the right time to plant your seed. It is important to seed at the correct time to ensure the soil temperature is at an ideal range (above 50º F and below 80ºF) so that your grass can germinate. Planting grass when it’s too hot or too cold outside will hinder the seed’s ability to germinate and survive times of stress like extreme temperatures and drought.
The optimal time to plant cool-season grass seed is in the fall from mid-August to mid-October. Remember, this is only a guideline and seasonal temperatures can change each year. Check your soil temperature before seeding to ensure that it’s not too hot or too cold for your seedlings to germinate. If you are unable to plant in the fall or eager to get a jump start on your lawn, the second-best time to plant grass is in the spring, between mid-March to mid-May.
You will also need to take your specific location and climate into consideration when determining when to seed, as different varieties require different planting times. Warm-season grasses, for example, are best suited for seeding in the late spring to early summer, as warm temperatures and ample sunlight provide the best environment for warm-season seedlings to grow in.
2. Calculate coverage amount
Knowing how much grass seed you will need to cover your lawn is important, as this will also help you know how many pounds of seed you will need to purchase. Before you head to the store, make sure to calculate your lawn’s square footage.
The average lawn needs approximately one to five pounds of grass seed for every 1,000 sq. ft. Not all grass seed bags have the same coverage, even if they are the same weight so it’s important to pay close attention to the specific instructions on the product label. You can find the coverage amount on the front of most grass seed bags.
3. Choose the right grass seed
Selecting grass seed can be challenging, as there are many varieties to choose from. take the following factors into consideration when choosing grass seed: climate, location, how many hours of sun your lawn receives, and the amount of traffic you have in the area you want to plant.
Warm-season grass varieties thrive best in the southern region of the country, where there are higher temperatures in the summer and moderately cool winters. These grass varieties require more sunlight than cool-season grasses. Cool-season grasses are best planted in the northern region, where winters are colder and summers are mild to moderately warm.
The quality of your grass seed matters, as it ultimately decides the quality of your lawn. Make sure to choose superior grass seed varieties, like Jonathan Green Black Beauty for their heat and drought tolerance, disease resistance, and naturally dark green color.
4. Prepare and amend the soil
Your soil is the foundation of your lawn. Paying close attention to the health of your soil will benefit your lawn in the long run.
To prepare your soil for seeding, test your soil using a soil tester to ensure it has a balanced pH of 6.2 to 7. Having soil that is too acidic or too alkaline will create an unhealthy environment for your grass to grow in. Soil amendments like Mag-I-Cal Plus, balance soil pH and loosen hard soil resulting in your lawn being able to better access the water, air, and nutrients it needs to grow strong and tall.
Once you’ve ensured your soil has a healthy pH, check to see if your soil has any rocks or debris that need to be removed. This is also the time to level the ground, filling in any holes or depressions with soil in order to avoid water and seeds pooling in low spots. You want to have a clean and even slate for the new grass seeds to grow in.
Finally, test your lawn for compaction by using a screwdriver. Push a long screwdriver (at least 6 inches in length) into the ground. If you have trouble pushing it all the way into the soil, you likely have compaction. This will make it difficult for water, air, and nutrients to travel to your lawn’s root system. Applying Jonathan Green Love Your Soil® will loosen the soil while helping to stimulate soil microbial life.
5. Plant grass seed and fertilize
Time to seed! To plant grass seed, use a spreader according to the spreader settings found on the back of your seed bag. First, spread the seed along the perimeter of your lawn. Then, apply half of the seed in one direction (north to south) and the remainder in the opposite direction (east to west) making sure to overlap slightly between passes.
Once you’ve spread the correct amount of seed, rake it into the soil to ensure every seed is adequately covered. Do not cover your seed with more than ¼ inch of soil. Sweep any excess seed, or soil off of hard surfaces and back onto the lawn.
Adding a new seeding fertilizer to your lawn at the same time as planting new grass seed will help give your seedlings a good feeding for healthy roots and growth development. Be sure to pay close attention to package instructions and only use a fertilizer that can be used the same day you seed, such as Jonathan Green Green-Up Fertilizer for Seeding & Sodding.
6. Establish a watering schedule to keep seed moist
Your new seedlings will need to be kept moist to ensure they germinate. For the first few weeks after planting, give your seedbed light, frequent waterings two to three times per day, in the early morning, late morning, and early afternoon.
The germination period, or the time it takes for your seed to start growing, can vary depending on what type of grass seed variety you’ve planted. Perennial ryegrass, for example, only takes about 7 – 14 days to germinate. Kentucky bluegrass, on the other hand, takes longer to germinate in approximately 21 – 28 days.
Once your grass has reached a height of four inches, you can begin to decrease your waterings to two to three times per week. Water for longer periods during this time for approximately 30 minutes per zone. On average, established lawns need about 1 – 1.5 inches of water per week, including rainfall.
7. Maintain your new lawn
Now that you’ve successfully planted a new lawn, it’s important to maintain all of your hard work! For new lawns, you should wait until the grass blade height is about four inches before mowing for the first time. Your regular mowing height should be set at about three inches. Be sure to never take off more than ⅓ of the grass blades when mowing.
Finally, establish a regular mowing and watering schedule, avoid excess traffic on your lawn, as well as identify and treat common lawn problems.
Planting grass seed is a rewarding experience that will ultimately produce a lawn you can be proud of! Once you have the correct knowledge, take the appropriate amount of time and care, and practice proper lawn care maintenance, your healthy, green lawn will look great in no time!