A lush lawn enhances the appeal and value of a home. It's also one of the biggest gardens you'll ever plant. As David Mellor, director of grounds at Fenway Park, points out, "There are an average of six grass plants to a square inch of lawn."
Preparation by choosing the right turf grass for your climate and fertilizing the soil will give you a head start on a great lawn.
Plan your lawn. Taking care of a grass lawn can be time consuming. Plan where you want to grow grass. The larger the area, the more work, water and money you will need to maintain it. Consider adding flower beds or other natural elements to cut down on the grass.
Choose the right grass. Cool season grass is best suited for northern areas. Warm season grass grows well in southern regions of the United States. Consult your local garden center or county extension office for your climate zone and a list of grasses that grows well in your area.
Other considerations: Will the grass be ornamental (as in a front yard) or will the grass be in a frequently used backyard?
Decide when to plant. It is best to plant grass seed before or after summer in most parts of the United States. If you plant in summer, you will need to water frequently to keep new seed moist.
In much of the country, early fall is the best time for planting grass because soil is warm, daytime temperatures are moderate and weeds are not as prevalent.
Prepare the soil. If adding seeds to an existing lawn, use an aerator or rake to punch holes in the lawn, giving seeds a place to go. Water thoroughly--about one hour with an overhead sprinkler.
New lawns: Spread compost, manure or organic fertilizer about one to two inches deep over area where grass will be planted. Use tiller to till ground and mix in the organic matter. Water thoroughly--about one hour with an overhead sprinkler.
Plant grass seed. Place seed in a seed spreader. Walk slowly over the entire area, dropping seed from the spreader. Adjust if seed seems to be coming out too quickly. Be careful to cover entire area evenly with seed.
Add starter fertilizer over entire planted area. Some fertilizers can be spread with a spreader, others can be spread with a water hose.
Water and mulch. Water area where grass seed was spread thoroughly--one hour with an overhead sprinkler. Remember to keep grass seed moist until it germinates. You can use a thin layer of straw over the area as mulch to help keep seed moist. The straw can be gently raked away when the grass has sprouted.
Add more fertilizer to your grass, about three to four weeks after planting. This ensures fertilizer will get to young roots.