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A well-maintained and green lawn is one the most pleasing sights for a visitor to any home to behold. However, growing a lawn the right way and maintaining it is a lot of hard work. However, that does not mean you need to hire professional gardening help, or that you need to shell out extra money on installing sod. Here are some essential gardening tips on lawn seeding to help you grow an impeccable new lawn.
Timing is everything
One of the key elements in growing a great-looking lawn is knowing when the right time of the year to seed your lawn is. Of course, this depends on what kind of grass you’re planting.
For planting cool-season grasses such as perennial ryegrass, tall fescue, or Kentucky bluegrass, the best time of the year is either early fall or spring. These varieties may not even take root in the summer or winter. Even if the grasses do germinate, they are unlikely to survive the extreme weather conditions of summer and winter.
On the other hand, warm-season grasses like Bermuda, centipede, and zoysia are likely to thrive if planted in the early summer.
Choosing the right seed variety
It is important that you choose a quality grass seed variety that suits your lifestyle, location, and budget. For example, those that live in the Southern States are best served to choose warm-season grass, while those in the North, Northeast, and Pacific Northwest ought to choose one of the cool-season grass. Even under these classifications, you have many different types of grasses that you can choose from.
Consider growing conditions as well, such as sunshade and whether it gets full or partial sun. Will your lawn be ornamental or will your kids and pets be tramping all over them? All of these factors ought to be considered before you buy seeds.
While you may be able to grow a perfectly great lawn without testing your soil, we’d advise you to contact your local county’s cooperative extension service and get your soil analyzed.
Your soil pH will need to be between 6.0 and 7.0 for most types of grasses to grow. If the pH level of your soil is lower than 6.0, it means the soil is acidic in nature and you will need to add limestone to the soil. Alkaline soil will have a pH of more than 7.0 and will need manure, sulfur or composted soil to be added in order for your lawn to grow.
Your soil will need to be prepped before you can begin seeding. Preparing your soil begins with removing the existing lawn using a sod cutter or a sharp shovel, depending on the area that needs to be covered.
If you notice any large rocks or other debris on the surface, remove them. Compacted soil must be worked over with a tiller, and low spots filled. This is done to create a welcome mat of sorts for the seeds, composed of pea-sized particles of broken-down soil.
Level out the surface using a bow rake, removing any rocks and debris you may find while doing this. While you may be tempted to add a layer of topsoil to enrich the soil, we’d suggest you instead add a mixture of rich, composted materials that you will be able to buy from your local gardening store instead to create a healthy seed growing environment.
Seeding and feeding
It is important to seed and feed your seeds the same day. You can feed your seeds with readily available granular lawn food as soon as you seed them.
You even have lawn food variants with weed controls that prevent the growth of weeds for up to 6 weeks.
Remember that different types of grasses and fertilizer combinations need different spreader settings. So make sure you read the instructions before you start spreading. It is always advisable to start planting your long along the perimeter, and then work your way inwards in slightly overlapping passes. This way, you can be sure to cover the area evenly without leaving any bare spots.
Make sure that you do not get any grass seeds or manure into your flower beds, driveway, or sidewalk.
Once you’re done planting grass seeds and lawn food, it is time to add a thin layer of soil on top to keep the seeds from drying up or washing away. You could add a thin layer of lawn soil and rake it back. If your lawn is at an incline, mulch it with a thin layer of straw to prevent the seeds from getting eroded. Make sure, however, that the seedbed is visible underneath the layer of straw.
Mulching helps reduce water use on your lawn as well.
Until your lawn has grown to about 3 inches, you will need to water it regularly. The aim is to keep the top inch of soil wet but not soggy.
Once the seeds germinate, you will need to keep the top two inches of soil moist until the grasses reach a height of 3 inches, which is when they are ready to be mowed for the first time.
Once that height has been achieved, your lawn will need to be watered only a couple of times a week.
Knowing the basics of lawn maintenance is important to ensure your lawn remains lush and healthy for a long time. Your lawn is ready to be mowed once it reaches a height of 3 inches. However, keep in mind that only the top 1/3rd of the grass blades must be trimmed while mowing.
Cutting the grass too short makes it weak and allows weeds to grow easily. Also, try and avoid foot traffic on your new lawn as much as possible for the first 6 weeks or so.
Once the lawn has grown well, stick to a regular lawn fertilizing program to keep your lawn thick and healthy.