When you are building a new home, one of the final hurdles is to seed a lawn. Everyone wants a lush, well-maintained yard to put the bow on top and tie together the curb appeal of your beautiful new home. Lawn care is an important part of being a good homeowner. Not only does regular lawn care make your home look its best, but your neighbors will also appreciate the fact that you take care of your space. When you are starting from scratch and you seed a lawn, then start a regular lawn care regimen and use quality liquid lawn care products you are sure to have a lawn that is the envy of the neighborhood.
Choose Your Species of Grass
Before you begin planning to seed a lawn, you need to determine which kind of grass you’re going to grow. Your lawn will only look beautiful and full if you pick an appropriate species of turfgrass with which to seed your lawn. All the lawn care and liquid lawn care products in the world won’t help when you plant a warm-season grass species in an environment where it’s not getting the appropriate amount of sun and water. There are many different types of grass to consider when you’re planning to seed a lawn. Species of grass are categorized as warm-season grasses or cool-season grasses. Warm-season grasses are suitable to seed a lawn located in the south, and cool-season grasses are the suitable choice to seed a lawn in the northern states. There is a transitional zone in North America to be aware of as well. In this zone, it isn’t as straightforward as warm or cool-season grass. This map (under Turfgrass Types) helps determine exactly what kind of grass you should consider when planning to seed a lawn. Once you’ve determined which type of grass will thrive in your location, you can decide which method you’d prefer to use, seed, sod, or plugs.
Choose a Method of Lawn Establishment
There are pros and cons to every method of lawn establishment. Seeding a lawn is the most labor-intensive, but it’s the most cost-effective. You can purchase grass seed at a local home improvement store, and it can cost anywhere from two to thirteen dollars per 200 square feet. The cost is dependent on the kind of seed you use to seed a lawn, how big the lawn is, and your location.
Using sod is the most expensive way to seed a lawn, but it is the easiest and fastest way to a beautiful, lush lawn. You can usually purchase sod where you buy grass seed, or there may be a sod farm near you. The cost is again dependent on the type of grass you choose, your location, and how much ground you are covering.
Using plugs or sprigs is the final method to mention when discussing how to establish a lawn. Plugs are small pieces of sod, usually two or three inches wide, that contain both roots and soil. They are typically cheaper than whole rolls of sod, and a little more labor-intensive than rolls, but less so than seeding with grass seed. Grass plugs are planted approximately one foot apart and then spread rapidly to fill in the yard. Sprigs are similar but are pieces of stolons and rhizomes that are spread across the ground and left to grow from there. As with the other methods, the cost is dependent on the variables mentioned, location, type, and size of the yard. You can expect to pay somewhere around 90 dollars to cover 200 square feet.
It’s worth noting that no matter which method you chose, you can certainly hire a professional and not worry about the labor. However, if you would like to save a good bit of money, and you don’t mind a little elbow grease, you can DIY any of these methods.
How to Seed a Lawn
Before you begin your project, you should first perform a soil test to determine the health of the soil you’re working with and make any necessary amendments. All your lawn care efforts will be made in vain if you have a problem at the very base of your lawn. You don’t want to go through all this effort only to fail because your soil is too acidic. You should not apply weed preventative (granular or liquid lawn care) before you begin seeding, as this can prevent your seed from establishing. After choosing your grass species and performing your soil test, you’re ready to seed. Warm-season grasses should be planted from March through August, and cool-season grasses should be planted from mid-August through mid-October or in the spring, if necessary.
- First, you need to till the ground to about three-inch depth. Using a tiller, slowly walk back and forth across the ground, much like you do when you’re mowing. Don’t rush tilling, and don’t till the same area more than once. Over-tilling can compact the soil.
- Using the back of a rake, level and smooth out the surface of your yard. Take drainage into account.
- Add organic matter, liquid lawn care fertilizer, and topsoil and work into the soil.
- Roll out your yard using a lawn roller.
- Follow package instructions and spread your grass seed. When you seed a lawn, spread half of your seed in one direction and the other half at a right angle to ensure even coverage.
- Next, you need to rake and roll your yard again.
- Spread a seed starter mat, seed blanket, or weed-free straw to keep the seed from blowing away.
- Water the yard frequently to keep it moist. Water only once per day once the grass reaches an inch in length.
- When your grass is approximately three inches long, it’s time to mow.
- After you have mowed your new grass a total of three times, cut back watering to once per week.
- After four to six weeks, fertilize using high-quality liquid lawn care fertilizer that is rich in nitrogen.
- Begin your normal lawn care routine and aerate your yard once a year.
How to Properly Water your Lawn
Before touching on how to establish a lawn using the other methods, let’s talk about how to water your lawn properly. Along with the use of your liquid lawn care products, the most crucial step in your lawn care routine for maintaining that lush, healthy green that everyone wants for their grass is to make sure your grass isn’t thirsty. Where most people fail in their lawn care is not properly watering their lawn. They tend to water frequently, but not deeply enough. Instead, a better lawn care practice is to water deeply one to three times a week, depending on how dry it is in your location, and, if possible, water in the early morning.
How to Install Sod
Much like when you seed a lawn, you should perform a soil test before laying sod as well. Do this before you order your sod so that you can correct any problems before your sod arrives. Measure your yard carefully so that you do not order more sod than you need. Be sure that your sod hasn’t been cut more than twenty-four hours before it’s delivered, and plan to plant it as soon as you get it.
- The soil needs to be moist when you lay sod, so thoroughly water your yard twenty-four to forty-eight hours before your sod is delivered.
- Till your soil to about six inches deep, and then add organic matter and starter fertilizer, and till again about three inches deep.
- Level and smooth your yard using a rake and again, consider drainage.
- Starting at a straight edge, begin to lay your sod. Work one roll, end to end, before moving on to the next. Do not walk on your sod as you roll it out and rake out your footprints from the soil before unrolling your sod. Pat the sod to work out any air pockets.
- Lay your next piece of sod, staggering the ends so that no two joints are next to each other.
- Lay the edges of the sod together tightly, but do not overlap. Be sure that there are no air pockets or bare soil along the seams.
- Inevitably, you will end up with small pieces of sod from filling in your yard. Place small pieces in the center of your yard. These small pieces are more prone to drying out and dying if placed on the edges, or where there is no grass touching each side.
- It’s helpful to use a lawn hose, laid along the curve of a garden or other contour, to help guide where you need to cut.
- When you’ve covered the ground with sod, use a broom to brush topsoil along all of the seams.
- Use a lawn roller to push the sod firmly to the ground.
- Water the lawn thoroughly every day unless it rains. Gradually taper watering. After one week, cut back to every other day, and by the fourth week, you should be watering one inch of water per week.
- Limit foot traffic from people and animals for the first three weeks while the roots establish.
- After ten days, you can mow for the first time.
- After about four weeks, use your liquid lawn care fertilizer, and then enjoy regular foot traffic and activity on your new, beautiful lawn!
How to Plant Grass Plugs
When you seed a lawn with plugs, follow the same beginning steps as the other methods. Perform a soil test, make any corrections, till your soil and add organic matter, smooth and level the soil, and then thoroughly water the yard. Grass plugs are small pieces of sod, so it makes sense to prepare your lawn and soil the same way you would before laying sod.
- Manually dig holes slightly larger than the plugs, or use a plug tool.
- Use a checkerboard pattern and dig holes approximately twelve inches apart.
- Use a liquid lawn care starter fertilizer that's high in phosphorus, then place a plug in each hole. Be sure to tap out any air pockets and to fill in the soil around the plug.
- When you've planted all the plugs, water the area thoroughly again. Water the plugs daily for seven to ten days until the plugs have firmly rooted. When they have been established, begin your regular lawn care routine and water one inch of water per week. Begin mowing after two weeks. Then start using liquid lawn care products and aerate your lawn for the first time after about a year.
How to Fertilize
In addition to regularly aerating, fertilizing is an integral part of your lawn care. Fortunately, this lawn care step is made easier with the use of liquid lawn care fertilizers, and liquid lawn care is the most efficient way for your lawn to receive the nutrients it needs. Lawn fertilizers are available in higher concentrations of the different macronutrients that grass and plants may need in different situations.
- Liquid lawn care food high in nitrogen. Nitrogen encourages new leaf growth and is important to use before you seed a lawn.
- Liquid lawn care food high in phosphorus. Phosphorus assists roots with new growth and is important to use if your soil is compacted and roots don’t reach deeper than two inches. For the best lawn care in this situation, feed the grass with liquid lawn care food high in phosphorous.
- Liquid lawn care food high in potassium. Potassium is important for your lawn care because it makes your lawn a little more hearty and resistant to stress. For your lawn care performed at the end of the warm season to prepare your lawn for winter, fertilize your grass with liquid lawn care food high in potassium.
Every homeowner desires a beautiful, green lawn. When you seed a lawn, regardless of whether you use seeds, sod, or grass plugs, you are taking the first step in achieving your dream lawn. After you seed a lawn, a regular lawn care routine that includes mowing, watering, aerating, and the use of high-quality liquid lawn care products is the way to maintain that yard for years on end. Lawn care and maintenance can be a labor of love, but a healthy yard that’s the envy of all your neighbors is your reward.