Planting grass seed, as opposed to sodding, has many benefits. Grass seed provides more varieties of grass, as well as being less expensive than laying sod. You have only a limited time to plant grass seed--plant it in the spring for warm season glasses, and fall for cool season grasses.
Choosing grass seed
Choosing the right grass seed is the most important aspect of planting from grass seed. Varieties require different amount of care in terms of water, fertilization and mowing needs. Check the specifications of the grass seed, especially when buying online or through mail order, to make sure you can meet its needs and it's suitable for your climate. Turfgrass vary in their ability to survive stress, says Clemson University. Choose a seed with a high germination rate, rather than a lower quality seed.
Prepare your soil properly before you sow grass seed. Remove weeds from the area, and if you have a large number of weeds, apply an herbicide. Soil quality is also important. Clay soil is best amended with 2 to 3 cubic yards of peat moss per 1,000 square feet to open up the soil, improving its drainage. Work the soil with a rototiller, advises the University of Illinois, to help grass roots establish.
Determine the soil's pH level to ensure the soil is at the right acidity to grow healthy grass. Grass requires a soil pH that is slightly acidic, between 6.0 and 7.0 on the acidity scale. Soil that has a higher pH requires an application of sulfur, while soil with a low pH requires lime. Most university extension services provide soil tests for a small fee, and their labs will give recommendations on how much amendment is needed for the soil. You can also buy soil test kits at garden centers.
Grass seed spread too thin will burn up, and will not establish itself properly. The University of Minnesota Extension recommends sowing half of the grass seed required for your lawn in one direction along the lawn, then spreading the other half crossing the first application. This ensures a good coverage of seed.