Growing a Lawn From Seed

Using seed to turn brown soil into a lush, green lawn requires preparation, measuring, watering and patience. With a little hard work you can turn that dirt yard into an emerald delight.

When to Plant

The best time to plant a lawn is in late summer or early fall because the soil is warm. However, you can also plant in early spring, if the soil is dry enough to work. If you have to plant in summer, you'll want to keep the seeds moist after planting.

Preparing the Soil

Growing a lush lawn means youíll need to prepare the soil with the right amount of organic matter, fertilizer and other components. Start out by taking a soil sample for a soil test. This can usually be done by your county agriculture extension service (ask your local garden center for contact information).

The soil test will tell you the pH balance of your soil and what nutrients it will need. This will save you time in the long run, because it's hard to add the important components for developing perfect soil after the grass has been grown.

Steps for Soil Preparation:

  • Measure your lawn dimensions.
  • Do a soil test on your lawn area
  • Till the soil at a depth of 4-6 inches with a cultivator. Hand-tilling doesnít mix the soil properly and will result in poor grass growth. ††††
  • Add the proper amounts of nutrients (lime, organic matter, sulfur or fertilizer), as indicated by soil test results.
  • Till the soil again.
  • Rake the soil smooth, removing any rocks and leveling high and low places. †
  • Add phosphorous at the rate of 50 pounds per 1,000 square feet of lawn to help roots get established.
  • Add your automatic sprinkler system, if planned. †
  • Rake one last time. † 
  • Roll the yard with a roller to help the soil to settle. You can rent a roller from a rental center or home improvement store.
  • Water the yard to help soil settle more.

How to Seed

Youíll want to choose an appropriate grass seed by asking your local lawn and garden center what grows best in your area. To apply the seed: †

  • Use a hand-crank operated seed spreader.
  • Put 1/4 of the seed in the spreader and seed the entire lawn.
  • Go back with 1/4 the amount of seed and distribute seeds in a different direction. Continue until all of the seed has been laid down.
  • Rake gently with a bamboo or fan rake.
  • Roll with a light (50-75 lb) lawn roller.
  • Water with a fine mist until the soil is damp. Too hard of a spray will result in the seeds being washed away, or pushed too deeply into the soil.
  • Apply 1" of straw to cover the seed, providing shade.†
  • Keep traffic off the yard! † †††

What comes next? Patience 

Germinating the lawn takes patience and diligent watering.

  • Seed can take up to 20 days to germinate.
  • The lawn needs 1" of water a week, either by rainfall or sprinkling.
  • Sprinkle the seeds lightly, do not soak!
  • Water early in the morning for best results

Houston, we have a Lawn!

Congratulations, your lawn is sprouting! Donít stop watering your lawn daily. It takes up to two months of growth for the lawn to become established enough to reduce watering to once or twice a week. You can mow your new lawn when it is 2 1/2 to 3 inches tall, taking approximately an inch off the growth with a sharp mower blade. Enjoy your new lawn!

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