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Growing new grass from grass seed can be quite frustrating if the results are not what you expected them to be. Having spent years as a homeowner growing new grass from grass seed to enhance my lawn, I have developed an understanding about how to increase my chances of success that anyone can follow. While local climate plays a big role, the general guidelines outlined in this article regarding the optimum conditions to grow new grass can be applied to just about any temperate climate.
Choose The Right Time of the Year To Grow New Grass
One of the most important decisions to make when growing new grass is when to grow it. The best time of year to plant new grass seed to ensure that it germinates and takes hold is the late summer and early fall. The second best time is the early to mid-spring. Avoid trying to grow new grass during the early and middle parts of summer, as the long hot days do not make for good growing conditions.
The late summer and early fall is the best time to grow new grass because the weather and soils are still warm, but the days are not as long or hot as the early to the middle part of summer. Unlike the springtime, there are fewer weeds growing during this part of the year to compete with the new grass. Also, the new grass will go dormant during the winter, and with proper fertilizer application will grow nicely when it wakes up during the following spring.
Prepare an Area Prior To Planting New Grass Seeds
Like anything in life, preparation is the key to success. As a new homeowner, I thought I could just mix grass seeds into bare soil areas, apply water, and wait for the seeds to germinate into grass and grow. I quickly realized how naive this approach was since the results were often disappointing with little or no seed germination.
Instead, prepare a bare soil area prior to planting grass seeds by raking or digging out the area to remove any debris that will hinder the growth of new grass seeds. This debris could include dead grass, weeds, leaves, and sticks. Raking or digging out will also loosen the soil, making it easier for newly emerging grass to extend its roots into the soil.
Buy The Right Kind of Grass Seeds and a Starter Fertilizer
Take the time to research what kind of grasses grow best in your local climate. What works in one climate might lead to failure elsewhere.
When you purchase the seed, check the label to ensure that the seeds have not expired. You cannot count on a store to ensure they are selling unexpired seeds. Also, buy a starter fertilizer, as it will help ensure that the new grass grows in thickly.
I like to use Scott’s Northeast mix grass seeds since I live in the Northeastern United States and this seed mix is designed to survive and thrive in the varying seasonal weather experienced in this part of the world. I use it in combination with Scotts Turf Builder Starter Food for New Grass starter fertilizer, which helps ensure the new seed is properly nourished and grows in thickly.
Scotts Turf Builder Starter Food for New Grass Helps New Grass Grow In Thickly
Use Nutrient Rich Loose Top Soil To Plant New Grass Seeds
The key to growing grass from seed is to grow it in nutrient-rich loose topsoil that will provide the seed with plenty of nutrients and space to grow. The soil already in place in your yard might not make for a good growing environment, especially if it is compacted, is full of stones, or is sandy. While buying topsoil is an extra expense, it is well worthwhile to use fresh topsoil for a seeding project to increase your chances of successfully growing new grass.
Use a container or wheelbarrow to combine the fresh topsoil with the newly purchased grass seed and starter fertilizer. Follow manufacturer instructions regarding how much grass seed and fertilizer to use for a given area. Use a shovel or rake to mix the topsoil, seed, and fertilizer. Mix it well to ensure that the seeds and fertilizer are evenly distributed in the topsoil.
Place the mixture of topsoil, seed, and fertilizer onto the bare soil areas that you previously prepared for planting and want to grow new grass in. Once the mixture has been placed, generously add additional grass seeds to the top of the mixture in the areas in which the mixture was just placed and lightly rake them in. This extra seeding is worth doing to ensure that there is plenty of seed available to sprout.
Keep The Seeded Area Moist By Watering Twice Per Day
Another key to successfully growing new grass is to keep the topsoil containing the seed and fertilizer moist at all times because seeds need moisture to germinate and grow. Lack of moisture will kill off the seeds. Water the seeded areas twice per day, once in the morning and once in the late afternoon or early evening. If it is very hot, then a midday watering might be needed.
I water newly seeded areas for about 15 minutes in the early morning and early evening using an automatic watering device called the Orbit Programmable Hose Faucet Timer (2 Outlet) that is attached to an outdoor spigot. This device is fully programmable regarding time between waterings and duration of waterings. This negates the need to go outside early in the morning or be home early in the evening to water the seeded areas and ensures that proper moisture is maintained n the newly seeded areas.
Orbit Programmable Hose Faucet Timer Waters Grass Automatically
Orbit Programmable Hose Faucet Timer (2 Outlet) Makes Watering Easy
Watering After Grass Has Sprouted
In approximately one to three weeks, you will see tiny grass blades popping out of the seeded areas. Keep applying water twice per day. The areas will quickly fill in with grass. Once the grass has filled in and is at least three inches tall, reduce watering to every few days in the early morning, but water for longer period of time, such as thirty minutes per day. The more spread out but longer watering events will allow deeper soils to receive water and force the new grass to grow deeper roots to reach the moisture it needs to grow, which you want in order to establish healthy grass that will survive during harsh winter and summer weather conditions.
Healthy lawns require one inch of water per week, so if your area is not receiving adequate rainfall, make sure you water your lawn so that it receives the inch of rain per week it needs to grow and thrive.
Newly Grown Grass That Hasn't Been Cut Yet
Mowing The Lawn After New Grass Has Been Established
Wait until the new grass has reached a height of at least three and one-half (3.5) inches in height and is well established before mowing it. This usually takes a month or more from the day you first notice grass blades popping out of the seeded areas. Set your mower on a high setting to ensure that you don’t cut the new grass back too far and damage it.
Enjoy your new lawn. Make sure you aerate it, fertilize, and apply weed deterrents as necessary to maintain the lawn’s health and longevity.
Newly Grown Grass That Has Been Freshly Mowed
Reseeding The Lawn - A Video Walk-Through Regarding How To Grow Grass
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 John Coviello
Liz Westwood from UK on September 20, 2019:
This is a very helpful article. Many have been reseeding their grass in the UK this year after last year's heatwave left lawns parched.