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What to Know About Seeding a Lawn

If you've always wanted a lush, emerald green lawn, stop dreaming and start seeding.

Contributing Writer
green grass growing from seeds in dirt
Photography by: Faba-Photography/Getty Images

Whether you're planting a new lawn or patching up an existing one, seeding is an important step to take to ensure the green carpet that is your yard is attractive and healthy. Here's what you need to know.

 

Related: The No-Fuss Lawn

 

Figure out the best time to seed.

The right time to seed really depends on what part of the country you live in and what type of grass you want. Cool-season grasses like Kentucky bluegrass that can survive moisture and temperature extremes are best planted in spring or early fall; they're mostly used in the north. Warm season grasses like Bermuda grass should be planted in early summer when the soil has warmed up; it's no surprise that they do best in warm weather locales like the south.

 

Pick the right type of seed for your lawn.

For the seed to flourish, it must be a good match with your local growing conditions. Consider the amount of sunlight, shade, and wind the area gets, as well as foot traffic, and water availability.

 

Test the soil.

If the soil is too acidic or alkaline, which is measured on a pH scale, grass will have a tough time growing. Have a sample of your soil tested at a local extension service. Ideally, your soil will have a pH between 6.0 and 7.5.

 

Related: Here's What's New in Martha's Garden This Spring

 

Get the soil ready.

Basically, you want the soil to be in as good a condition as possible so that the seeds will germinate, so remove any large rocks, roots, or debris that you see with a sharp shovel; remove any existing grass with a sod cutter. Turn soil with a rotary tiller to break up compacted clumps. Soil should consist of pea-sized particles for best results. Use a rake to gently even out the surface.

 

Seed the lawn.

It's time to lay down the grass seed. "This can be accomplished by over-seeding with a seeding machine that a homeowner can rent at most rental stores," says Kurt Morrell, the A.P. Farm Associate Vice President for Landscape Operations at the New York Botanical Garden. "If it is not possible to use an over-seeding machine, it is always best to prepare a proper seedbed and cover the seed with soil by raking the seed in. Cover with salt hay, which does not include weed seeds."

 

Water the lawn.

"Newly seeded lawns need to be kept moist at all times until they are about one-inch tall," says Morrell. "Once the grass seed germinates, do not let the top half inch of soil become dry otherwise the turf plant could be killed." In hot, dry weather, you may have to water the lawn multiple times per day. Once turf plant is approximately one-inch tall, water every other day. When grass is tall enough to mow—at least three inches high—water as you would the rest of your lawn.