Planting Grass Seed

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Planting Grass Seed

Planting grass seed may be a small or large project for you. Either way, it isn’t something most people want to repeat, if avoidable. Ensure your chances for success with these tips. Don’t guess at how much seed you need. Measure the area. Then calculate the amount according to the recommended rate for your seed variety. Buy extra, for filling in bare spots that will happen sooner or later. Don’t apply fertilizer at the same time as the seed. It can burn the new seedling. Read more information in Getting New Grass To Grow. Don’t let young kids and pets help when planting grass seed. The seeding and mulch distribution is too important to entrust to children. Let them plant some seed in a pot and watch it grow. Make arrangements to keep your pets off the entire area. Watch for cats that like the new potty box. Don’t get in a hurry and try planting the grass seed first, and then wonder how you will keep it irrigated. Plan this first! Guarantee that watering will be done every time it is needed. Make sure that whatever watering method you use will give sufficient coverage. Don’t water too heavily at one time. Erosion, mud, and spongy soil are difficult problems to correct. Don’t neglect the other valuable articles available with key information on planting grass seed. Learn more before starting!

Planting Grass Seed

Check this list as you plan your project, and prior to actually planting grass seed, to help things go as easily as possible. Details for use will follow the list. Grass Seed. Select a variety appropriate to the location, and compatible with any existing grass. Check the package for application rates. It is better to have extra on hand rather than not enough, once you start planting grass seed. Mulch. Use fine-screened compost or weed-free steer manure. One cubic foot will cover about 50 square feet at ¼” thick. Or use straw for very large areas. A bale may cover 500 – 1,000 sq. ft. depending on its size and density. Rake. A wide landscaper rake or a gardeners bow rake was necessary to prepare and level the soil. Use this or even a leaf rake to mix the seed into the top layer of soil. Large areas may require a drag, like a piece of chain link fence, behind a tractor. Lawn Roller. This was used in soil preparation to level the ground. Use it now to press the seed into the soil. Irrigation System. If a built-in system is to be used, check it first and make all repairs and adjustments prior to planting the grass seed. Hose, soft-spray hose nozzle and hose-end sprinkler. Use a quality sprinkler that will provide even coverage without puddles. (Even with a built in system, some areas may require extra water.) Stakes and String or survey marking tape. To restrict unnecessary activity in the seeded area during germination and early growth. Personal Items. Hat and/or sunscreen. Ice tea or lemonade. (No beer until finished!) Two or more supervisors who know nothing about planting grass seed so you can feel good when you kick them off the job! (Just kidding!)

Planting Grass Seed

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Understanding Grass Seed Labels State laws require labeling on grass seed. There’s a lot of information listed. For the consumer, look at a few items: The amount of the named variety by percent of weight Other crop seeds in the package by percent of weight Any inert ingredients in the package by percent of weight Percent of weed seed in the mixture (if any) Germination rate of the seed. The higher the number, the better In addition to reading the label, there should be a coverage chart to help you determine how much seed you’ll need for your application. Also look to for information on the drop rate for your model of spreader. Seed Blends and Mixes In addition to planting pure seed, blends and mixes are also available. A blend is a combination of two or more cultivars of the same species — for example two types of fescue. A mix is a combination of different species of grasses. Both blends and mixes are formulated for specific regions and needs, using the most desirable traits of each grass type to improve the lawn. Other Considerations You’ll apply the seed with a broadcast spreader or hand spreader. The coverage rates vary based on the type of seed you choose. Read the label carefully on all lawn-care products. Make sure that the pre- or post-emergent herbicides and fertilizers you purchase are approved for use on your type of grass. Consider how you use your lawn. If you have a lot of foot traffic or children playing, look for a lawn seed with a high traffic tolerance listed. Play areas, especially under swings and other play equipment, also need a tougher turf.

Once amending is complete, rake the soil surface smooth and then broadcast the seed evenly, according to recommended seeding rates and using a drop or broadcast spreader. Remember to carefully review the seed package label instructions, as misapplication of seed can lead to unsatisfactory results. The type of spreader you use depends on your turf situation. A drop spreader features two wheels and a bucket for seed. As you push the spreader, it drops seed in a straight path. This type of spreader is ideal if you have a small (less than 5,000 sq. ft.) lawn or want to get seed to a specific area. It’s also fairly easy to maneuver in tight spaces. A broadcast/rotary spreader comes in walk-behind and hand-held types. It spreads seed by fanning it out in all directions, providing more uniform coverage. These spreaders are ideal for large lawns, but make reaching edges difficult. Once you finish spreading the seed, use a rake to lightly work it into the soil at a depth of about 1/4 inch. Don’t bury the seeds any deeper, as they require adequate light to germinate quickly. Follow raking by passing over the area with a roller, which will ensure good seed-to-soil contact. Overseeding — planting grass seed into existing turf — provides the opportunity to improve your lawn’s overall look and health, thicken the turf to minimize weeds, fill in bare or damaged areas and/or convert to another type of lawn. Broadcast the seed over the lawn and water it well. Follow the same watering instructions as for new lawns.

State laws require labeling on grass seed. There’s a lot of information listed. For the consumer, look at a few items: The amount of the named variety by percent of weight Other crop seeds in the package by percent of weight Any inert ingredients in the package by percent of weight Percent of weed seed in the mixture (if any) Germination rate of the seed. The higher the number, the better In addition to reading the label, there should be a coverage chart to help you determine how much seed you’ll need for your application. Also look to for information on the drop rate for your model of spreader. Seed Blends and Mixes In addition to planting pure seed, blends and mixes are also available. A blend is a combination of two or more cultivars of the same species — for example two types of fescue. A mix is a combination of different species of grasses. Both blends and mixes are formulated for specific regions and needs, using the most desirable traits of each grass type to improve the lawn. Other Considerations You’ll apply the seed with a broadcast spreader or hand spreader. The coverage rates vary based on the type of seed you choose. Read the label carefully on all lawn-care products. Make sure that the pre- or post-emergent herbicides and fertilizers you purchase are approved for use on your type of grass. Consider how you use your lawn. If you have a lot of foot traffic or children playing, look for a lawn seed with a high traffic tolerance listed. Play areas, especially under swings and other play equipment, also need a tougher turf.

Seeding a New or Existing Lawn Seeding a New Lawn Using seed is the most common method of planting turfgrass. Whether you have an established lawn or you are starting a new one, the basic principles are the same. 1. Dig or till to a 3-inch depth. 2. Rake to remove clumps and clods. 3. Smooth and level the surface. Remember, you are establishing a finished grade so include any contours needed for drainage. 4. Add compost, topsoil and starter fertilizer and work them into the soil. 5. Roll with a weighted lawn roller. 6. Spread the seed. To ensure even coverage, sow half of the seed in one direction and the other half at a right angle. 7. Rake and roll again. 8. Mulch with a weed-free straw, such as wheat straw. As an alternative, you can use a seed starter mat or seed blanket to help keep the seed and loose soil from washing or blowing away. 9. Water frequently to keep the seeds moist (don’t saturate). Cut watering back to once a day when the grass reaches about 1 inch in height. 10. Mow when the grass reaches 2 1/2 inches – 3 inches. 11. After it’s been mowed three times, use a regular watering schedule of 1 inch per week. 12. Apply a pre-emergent crabgrass control to stop germination of unwanted grass. Overseeding an Existing Lawn To fill out an otherwise healthy lawn or to add extra green for the winter months, you can overseed: 1. Mow lower than usual. 2. Dethatch if needed or rake to thin the existing turf. 3. Aerate to reduce soil compaction. 4. Amend with compost. 5. Add starter fertilizer. 6. Apply seed. 7. Rake in loosely. 8. Top-dress with mulch, compost or peat moss.

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