Seeding a home lawn has a lot of advantages over laying sod. Although it takes longer to establish, growing a lawn form seed is less expensive. Grass seed has a wider array of cultivars available. Grass seed also has an initially stronger roots system, making it less susceptible to disease and underground pest damage.
Choose grass seed according to the area in which you're growing it. For the best establishment, use only grass seed types recommended for your climate. If you have shaded areas of your lawn, such as under trees, choose shade-tolerant varieties of grass. According to the University of Illinois, even shade-tolerant varieties of grass require two to four hours of sunlight per day.
Preparing the seed bed it the most important factor affecting grass growth when using seed. Test the soil's pH level to determine the amount of fertilizer required to balance the soil acidity for the specific grass variety. The University of Maine recommends a general soil pH of 6.0. Tilling the seed bed to a depth of 4 to 6 inches and incorporating the required fertilizer will loosen the soil and prepare it for the grass seed.
For the best chance of success, buy high-quality grass seed. According to the University of Illinois Extension, the purity of a good grass seed should be between 90 and 95 percent, with a germination rate of 70 to 80 percent for Kentucky bluegrass and 90 to 95 percent for perennial rye grass. Mixing varieties together gives the lawn a greater adaptability.
For seed to germinate, it must make good contact with the soil. Use a drop spreader to apply the grass to the lawn to ensure an even spread. Apply grass seed according to weight per 1,000 square feet. Different grass varieties require different application rates. Once the area is seeded, rake it lightly to ensure it is in contact with the soil. A layer of straw over the grass seed protects it from adverse weather conditions and birds.
Watering is essential during the initial growth period to germinate the seed and establish deep roots. Water must penetrate the soil to a depth of 4 to 6 inches, which requires 1 inch of water per week. Watering is required every day for the first two weeks while the seed germinates, then taper water off to twice a week, still watering with 1 inch of water per week to establish deep roots. It generally takes six to 12 weeks for grass seed to establish itself. Once the grass has reached the recommended growing height, start a normal lawn care routine.