With landscaping an emerald lawn comes an important skill: sowing grass. The health of your existing lawn – front yard or backyard – is undeniably linked to the condition of your lawn. A verdant garden cannot exist on its own, and it is good to reseed every three to four years. Grass seeding frequency often depends on foot traffic and whether pets have wreaked havoc on your yard and left bare spots. Maintaining your lawn not only helps with weed control, but will also prevent larger areas from thinning out. Regular grass seeding is what gives your lawn that lush density and curb appeal.
“During the 1800s and 1900s, lawns were seen as a status symbol,” said David Angelov, CEO of PlantParenting in Swampscott, Mass., says. “Back then it was really difficult to maintain, so if you had a pristine lawn you were considered in good condition. Whether you want to live like nobility or grow a small patch of new grass, here’s the DL on sowing grass.
What is grass seed?
All existing lawns start from grass seedlings at some point. If you skip seeding the grass, your garden will look like a neglected patch. Grass seeds are exactly what they sound like: the seeds from which a new grass will sprout. Generally, grass seeds are light tan in color and range in size from a quarter inch to three quarters inch, depending on the variety. Angelov points out that the lawn is made up of millions of tiny individual plants that are tangled. “When the seed germinates, it propagates the root,” he says. “Each seed grows a blade of grass, then they spread like a carpet.”
How to choose the right grass seed for your lawn?
The best grass seed for your lawn depends on a few factors: local climate, intended use, and aesthetics. First determine if your lawn is best suited for warm season grasses or cool season grasses.
Next, consider foot traffic. Do you plan to entertain or play on your new lawn? Decide if the grass will support the shenanigans. Examine your existing lawn and landscaping and note the amount of shade your garden receives. Finally, consider how you want the lawn to look. It’s especially helpful to point out these considerations when asking for recommendations when visiting a local nursery or garden store.
What are the common grass seed varieties?
Grass seeds come in many different types, each with its own unique appearance and maintenance requirements. For lawns, you will usually find turf, which is a narrow-leaved grass seed species that you can mow short, about two inches or less. This grass seed can tolerate foot traffic well. Generally, lawn grasses are divided into two categories: warm season grass and cool season grass.
Warm season grasses begin active growth in late spring and are generally more heat tolerant. Cool-season grasses, on the other hand, begin active growth much earlier in the season, usually mid-spring, and grow best in cooler climates. Some common grasses you will find as part of a lawn include:
- bermuda grass: A warm season grass that grows well in the southern United States. This grass can tolerate tougher conditions like high heat, droughts, and heavy foot traffic, making it a favorite when it comes to easy lawn care.
- centipede grass: another type of warm season turf, common in the southern United States. It is known as a relatively low maintenance grass that can grow in poor soil conditions.
- fescue: A cool season turf popular in northern regions of the country or in areas that experience both hot and cold weather. It is a popular choice among homeowners looking for weather and drought resistant grass. Varieties of fescue include: tall fescue, which has flat blades common to many lawn grasses, and fine fescue, which has thin, sometimes needle-like blades.
- Kentucky bluegrass: another cool season lawn. It is a popular choice throughout the northern United States and generally grows best in areas where summer temperatures do not exceed 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Perennial ryegrass: a cool season grass popular for its rapid germination. It takes about three weeks to go from seed to a lawn ready to mow.
- Zoysia grass: a warm season grass native to tropical regions of East Asia. It creates a dense lawn and resists weeds and drought. However, it can only tolerate light shade.
Which month is best to sow grass?
Like so many other aspects of grass seeding, the answer to this question comes down to whether you are planting warm season grass or cool season grass. The best time of year to plant warm season varieties is in late spring or early summer. Warm season grasses tend to germinate best when the soil is consistently between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit (this soil temperature corresponds to daytime temperatures of around 80 degrees Fahrenheit).
Cool season grasses are best planted in early fall, at least 45 days before the first frost of the season. To estimate, check last year’s weather reports or ask a seasoned nursery expert. These varieties germinate best in soil between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit, which roughly corresponds to daytime air temperatures in the range of 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Buying a soil thermometer can help you time and plan your lawn seeding accurately.
Whether you are planting warm season grasses or cool season grasses, the goal is to plant the seed when the weather is not too hot. “Weeds grow much faster in high heat, so they outgrow grass seed when it’s hotter,” says Angelov, noting that if you plant grass seed when it’s too hot, you’ll get a uneven lawn.
Can you just sprinkle grass seed on the lawn?
Your grass seed plan depends on your end goal. If your yard has bare spots or thinned areas of grass but the majority of the lawn is in good condition, you may only need to overseed the lawn. Overseeding is a technique of planting new grass on top of existing grass. In that case, scatter grass seed over the existing grass to fill in any of those bare spots and give the yard a little facelift. When overseeding, first mow the lawn shorter than usual, then use a portable spreader to add the seed to the grass.
On the other hand, if you’ve slacked off on lawn maintenance and the majority of the lawn is dead grass or no grass at all, you’ll probably need to reseed and grow a new lawn with a seed mix, as Scotts Ez Semen. Follow these steps for a greener pasture.
To sow grass, you will need:
What’s the best way to sow weed?
Once you’ve picked your grass seed and timed your efforts, you’re ready to sow the grass. “It’s definitely a project you could do without involving anyone else,” Angelov says of a novice who has time to prepare the ground.