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Lawn Ideas and Resources

lawn seed greenTop 5 Things to Consider When Using Seed for Your Lawn 

A healthy, great-looking lawn not only adds beauty to your landscape, it also provides a safe place for recreation for you and your family, while boosting the value of your property. If having a healthy and well-maintained lawn has been your dream, then why not plan for it now? The first thing to ask yourself then is: “Should I seed or sod?”

Either of these choices will result in a healthy lawn if planting is done properly. Seeding has disadvantages such as longer establishment of lawn, limited time to seed and greater attention to moisture content of the soil. However, if you want to have more choices, as far as types and varieties of grass is concerned, stronger root system development and lesser investment in dollars, then seeding is for you. However, seeding is a much more complicated process than sodding that’s why a lot of homeowners hire professional landscaping companies to plant the lawn for them. However, for small properties, some homeowners, who don’t mind getting their hands dirty, do the planting themselves. 

Here, are the top 5 considerations when seeding a lawn:

#1 - Site Evaluation and Choice of Seeds

Before you decide which seed variety to use, you must take time to survey the location of your future lawn. Important questions to consider include:

  • How much sunshine does the site receive? Is there shade?

Consider sunlight requirements when choosing the grass variety. For example, most varieties of Kentucky bluegrass grow best in areas receiving full sunlight throughout the day. However, don’t worry if your site is shady. There are seed mixtures that are shade-tolerant like fine fescues and even some varieties of Kentucky bluegrass.

  • Does your lawn receive a lot of foot traffic?

Your lawn may be receiving a lot of sunshine all day, but it is constantly subjected to excessive use perhaps by children and pets. If this is the case, there are seed mixtures available that are best for this condition such as a mixture of 50% Kentucky bluegrasses and 50% perennial ryegrasses or perhaps a blend of perennial ryegrasses, tall and red fescues and browntop.

  • Do you want your lawn to look its best and green all year through (high maintenance), or you just want a well-maintained turf without too much hassle (low maintenance)?

Mixtures of Kentucky bluegrasses and fine fescues have been proven to provide a durable lawn with minimal maintenance. For a lawn that would be merely used to showcase a beautiful landscape and will not tolerate heavy wear, go for mixtures of fine-leaved turf grasses such as chewings fescue, red fescue and browntop. Your lawn will be slow-growing, can be mowed at low heights and will look very fine in appearance.

recently seeded lawn

If you plan to do the seeding yourself, ask your local seed dealer or garden center for help in deciding which varieties of grasses are best for your lawn. However, if you hire an experienced landscaper from one of the local landscaping companies in your area, he will be in a better position to evaluate which variety is best for your lawn.   

#2 - Site and Soil Preparation

Your aim should be for rapid germination and growth of turf grass because research has shown that this condition is critical for the successful establishment of a lawn. To attain optimum turf grass growth, the right proportions of sunlight, air, water and nutrients are needed. Reducing or providing too much of any of these factors will cause the grass to die or suffer. Three of the four essential factors mentioned can be obtained from the soil. The best types of soil to grow turf are loams, sandy loams and loamy sands. Aside from type, the soil must also be neutral (neither acidic or alkaline). These are the ideal soil conditions for producing a lush, green, high-use and low-maintenance lawn. Fortunately, if this is not the case, the situation can be remedied by improving the soil. 

Site and soil preparation is critical prior to seeding an area. If you want to ensure a healthy turf without a lot of fuss, then don’t skip this process. These are the benefits of an appropriate and exhaustive soil preparation:

  • Enhanced uniformity of grass growth
  • Improved consistency and denseness
  • Faster recovery from damage caused by wear
  • Lesser need for water, fertilizer and chemical
  • Reduced maintenance

Site preparation entails clearing the area by removing any kind of debris and other objects such as buried stumps, rocks and stones. Removal of an old lawn is highly recommended ensuring that the new roots can penetrate the soil to promote absorption of water and nutrients. Elimination and control of weeds is also necessary prior to lawn seeding. You can do this manually through digging by hand, repeated tilling or through the use of a herbicide. 

Now it’s time to prepare the soil by doing the following:

  • Tilling and Rough Grading

Thoroughly work the soil using a rotary tiller. If your soil is not the ideal one for seeding, amend it by adding organic matter that could come from compost, rotted manure or peat. Ensure that the soil is 15 cm or 6 inches deep so that the grass can be deeply rooted. If the depth is less than 6 inches, consider adding topsoil, and be sure to have it tested (discussed below) first. 

Take care of possible drainage problems by rough grading the area to ensure that excess water drains rapidly through the soil or else, the turfgrass will grow weak due to a poor root system. Eliminate any depressed or raised areas. Gradually grade the slope away from the building foundation, the sidewalk or the neighbor’s property. To be assured of reliable surface drainage, make sure that the final slopes have a 1 to 2 feet drop per 100 feet of run. If you want to install a drainage or sprinkler system, then this is the best time to do so.    

  • Soil testing

Have a sample of your soil tested for its pH and nutrient levels and physical analysis. The soil’s pH level is a measure of its acidity or alkalinity, which is a value ranging from 1 to 14.  A pH value of 7 means that the soil is neutral while a pH below 6 or above 7 is not acceptable.  Since at these levels, there is an insufficient amount of nutrients needed for the grass to grow and thrive.  The pH level is crucial because it affects the availability of nutrients in the soil. An ideal pH level for seeding a lawn is between 6 to 7.  There are various test kits and devices to use to determine the pH level such as dyes, paper strips and glass electrodes. However, you may choose to go to any professional soil test laboratory, which could provide homeowner recommendations for soil improvement. Landscaping companies also have the capability to conduct soil analysis.

Some people may choose to ignore or take shortcuts when preparing the soil because of the amount of time and money involved. Sad to say, they are just inviting future disaster. Failure to improve the soil before seeding will more often than not, result in lawn problems later on that will entail a lot more investment in both time and money.

Consider hiring a landscaper, whose knowledge and expertise will free you from future hassles. Professional landscaping companies provide lawn establishment, care and maintenance services.

#3 - Soil Improvement

The results of the soil analysis will dictate how to improve the soil. Soils with low pH levels are limed to make them less acidic and therefore, less harmful to the turf. If there are nutrient deficiencies, now is the time to correct them. It is also best to add a starter fertilizer that is high in phosphorous and potassium at the recommended rate. 

Establish a favorable final grade of the entire area to level it while maintaining the rough grading contours and slopes. Use a roller or cultipacker to firm the soil slightly. 

#4 - Seeding

Timing is particularly important when seeding a lawn. Seeds rapidly germinate in late summer, and early fall where evenings are cool with moderate daytime temperatures and there is the probability of precipitation. The soil is also not too dry or too wet during these times. 

When done with the site and soil improvement, you can now commence with the actual seeding. Do a two-step seeding by spreading half the seeds lengthwise and the other half in perpendicular directions across the site. Use a “drop” spreader or a rotary “spinner” spreader. Then do a light raking of the area to allow 10% to 15% of the seed to show on the surface. To ensure proper seed-soil contact, roll over the area using a cultipacker. 

#5 - Aftercare

Water the newly seeded lawn as soon as possible, since maintaining adequate moisture is critical to ensure germination and early seeding survival. Up to 4 – 6 inches of soil must remain moist during the early days after seeding. If irrigation is impossible or impractical, putting down a light, weed-free mulch can help prevent rapid drying. You will know when there is excess water when water puddles begin to appear. If possible, refrain from using the lawn for a full season. Generally, it takes 6-12 weeks for the new lawn to be mature enough to tolerate considerable traffic.Finished Lawn

Special care must be observed when mowing the lawn for the first time, which is approximately 2 months after seeding. The lawn is ready if the new grass is about 0.75 inches taller that the usual height of your lawn. Use only a mower with sharp blades and make sure that the lawn is fairly dry or else you might pull out any of your new lawn.  Wait a few days more before cutting to the recommended height.

As you can see, seeding a lawn is a extremely tedious and difficult process so you must think twice before doing it yourself. Come to think of it, the following adds up to the cost of a do-it-yourself project: the value of your time, the cost of materials, the cost of equipment rental and the cost of your peace of mind wondering if what you are doing is right and if the project will succeed. If you really want to invest in a lawn, why not channel your investment in a job done by a professional. Professional landscaping companies provide the following: 

  • Proper care and management of your lawn
  • Top-quality work 
  • Safe handling of equipment and materials 
  • Proper application of products
  • Necessary tools and techniques to ensure the success of your project.

Get in touch with any of the local landscaping companies to ensure a successful lawn establishment project.

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