How to Grow Grass for a Lawn the Neighbors Will Envy
Is there anything better than the feeling of lush green grass under your bare feet on a warm summer day? Whether you are looking to grow a lawn that rivals a putting green or just need to fix some bare patches in your yard, growing grass doesn’t have to be complicated. Learn how to grow the right grass for your location quickly and easily so that you’ll have the best lawn on the block.
Test Your Soil Before You Start
Soil must have the right pH in order for grass seed to germinate and grow. The pH scale ranges from zero to 14, with 7.0 being neutral. Grass will grow best in soil that has a pH between 6.0 and 7.5.
A DIY soil-testing kit can be purchased from most nurseries or home improvement centers. Follow the manufacturer's directions to test the soil. For most kits, you need to mix a little bit of soil and water in the kit’s plastic vial. Shake vigorously and wait for the mixture to change color. Compare the color of the water/soil mixture to the color-coded chart printed alongside the vial to discover the pH of the soil.
If your soil is too acidic‚ below 6.0‚ add pulverized lime to raise the pH. If the soil is mildly alkaline‚ 7.5 to 8.0‚ you can balance the pH by mixing peat moss into the soil. If the soil is very alkaline‚ over 8.0‚ lower the pH by adding sulfur.
See post: Lana|Finding the Best Grass for a Lawn
When Should You Plant Grass Seed?
The time of year you plant grass seed has a direct effect on its success. Proper timing helps ensure your grass seed will germinate properly, grow quickly, and remain healthy, while new seedlings become established.
The best time to plant grass seed varies according to your grass growing region and the type of grass you grow. Lawns in the northern part of the United States typically consist of cool-season grasses, such as Kentucky bluegrass, Tall Fescue, or Perennial Ryegrass. In the South, Bermuda, Bahia, Centipede, and Zoysia grass are more suitable. Planting during cool weather coincides with the most active growth periods for these grass types, so for best results make sure you start growing your grass seeds in the spring or fall.
How to Grow Grass from Seed
To succeed at growing a healthy lawn, it's important to buy quality grass seed that is well-suited to your climate and your growing conditions. Use the following steps to grow grass from seed.
Step 1: Scatter the Seed
- For large areas, rent or buy a lawn spreader or a mechanical seeder, which shoots grass seed evenly across the lawn. For small areas you can spread grass seeds by hand.
- Use the amount of seed recommended by the lawn care expert at your home and garden store. It is important to use the correct amount of grass seeds to ensure your lawn grows evenly.
- Do not overseed your lawn. Do not use up extra seed by spreading it across the lawn. Overseeded areas will grow thin, unhealthy grass, because seedlings will compete for limited nutrients.
Step 2: Protect Seeds with Topsoil or Mulch
- Newly planted seeds need to be protected from the elements until they take root. A thin layer of topsoil will help, but it's best to use a loose layer of mulch to help retain moisture.
- Yellow grain straw is a popular choice, since it's cheap and easily broken up by the mower once your lawn is established. Avoid hay, which has too many seeds.
- Other forms of mulch will also work, but apply dense materials, such as compost or sawdust, in layers no thicker than a quarter inch.
Step 3: Water the Seeds
- Set your garden hose head to the "mist" setting and lightly water the seeds until they are thoroughly damp. For a larger lawn, run a sprinkler in the center of the area for a few minutes.
- Don't use a powerful stream of water, or you will wash away the grass seeds.
- Newly planted seeds should be watered lightly every other day until the grass sprouts.
Step 4: Keep Off the Lawn
- Keep people and pets off the new lawn. Protect the newly planted seeds from trampling for the first few weeks
- Consider putting up a sign or using a string or flags to cordon the area.
- If pets and other animals run loose, consider putting a temporary fence to protect the lawn from harm.
How Long Does It Take for Grass to Grow?
Depending on the type of grass you're growing, germination may take anywhere from five to 21 days. Expect your new grass to take another four to ten weeks to root well and become established. It will take a full season for most grasses to mature to the point where they're ready for steady foot traffic.
Once your new seedlings reach about one inch in height, examine the newly seeded area for any bare spots or places you may have missed. Reseed the bare areas, and repeat the process as needed until new seedlings are thick and you're satisfied with the results.
How to Fix Bald Patches of Grass
Rake the area well, picking up any leaves and debris in the turf. Spread the seeds over the turf, and then add about a half an inch of compost or topsoil on the lawn. To get good seed-to-soil contact, gently rake the seeds and soil into the grass. Water the seeds morning and evening until they germinate.
How to Grow Grass in the Shade
All grass requires sunlight to grow properly. Even shade tolerant grass requires a minimum amount of sunlight every day. As your trees grow taller and fuller, the number of rays reaching your grass decreases.
You can grow a pretty swath of lawn in a shady spot, as long as you pick the right grass and take care of it properly. Most grasses need at least four hours of direct sun to survive, but specialized shade-tolerant grass blends thrive in four hours of dappled sun or partial shade.
Grass growing in shady areas actually requires less water than grass growing in full sunlight. The key is to water deeply and infrequently. Deep watering encourages roots to grow down, rather than remaining shallow.
Growing grass doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. Use the right variety of grass for your location and have a little patience and you can grow a lush green lawn that will rival any golf course.
What are your best grass-growing tips? Let us know in the comments.
Written for the Hometalk community by: Adrienne | Crafty Little Gnome