If costs aren't closely watched, planting a lawn can become an expensive project. That's just the planting aspect. Maintaining a lawn can also eat into your wallet if you don't think through the entire process thoroughly before proceeding. You can achieve significant cost savings if you select a drought-tolerant species of grass, mow properly and only irrigate when absolutely necessary. You then won't have to work a full-time job just to support your lawn.
Select a grass cultivar that is drought tolerant. A good cultivar is any of the fine-leafed fescues. They also require less fertilizer and less mowing.
Select the optimum planting time. Early fall is the best time to start a new lawn. Starting a lawn in summer will cause you to irrigate more frequently and the grass won't be as healthy.
Prepare the planting site. Till the top 4 inches of soil. Remove rocks, debris and other large items that come to the surface. Smooth out the dirt with a garden rake and roll with a lawn roller to create a hospitable planting site.
Fill your broadcast spreader with grass seed and read the bag to find out the application rate. Set the spreader to half this rate and walk over the entire planting site twice (walk back and forth in one direction, then walk back and forth in a direction perpendicular to the first).
Rake the seed into the top layer of the soil and apply 1/4 inch of compost or peat as mulch to help retain moisture.
Water the seeds only when the soil is no longer moist. As long as natural rainfall is keeping the seedbed moist, you do not need to supplement any water.
Mow the grass once it reaches 3 inches in height. Keep the grass mowed between 3 and 3 1/2 inches tall for best drought tolerance. Mow every seven to 10 days.
Water only when the grass appears drought stressed. Drought-stressed grass will not perk back up after you walk across it. It will also have a bluish tinge to it. Apply an inch of water to the entire area when you see these signs.