Whether you're starting a new lawn or renovating an existing lawn, grass seed is a practical choice. Grass seed is generally available in more varieties than sod and is much more economical. It is also easier to install than sod. Keep grass seed very moist to encourage germination, watering it two or more times daily.
Plant grass seed in temperate climates as soon as snow is gone, but preferably before weed seeds germinate. Late April through May is ideal for spring planting, according to the University of Vermont Extension Service, so grass roots have time to develop before the heat of summer. August through September is also a good time to plant grass seeds because temperatures are cooler, allowing for good germination, and weeds have mostly died out.
Consult a local county extension office to choose grass seeds appropriate for your climate. Cool-season grasses grow well in temperate climates and become dormant during the winter. Some grasses, such as fescue, are drought-tolerant and low-maintenance, while others are well-suited for partially shady areas. Durable grass seed designed for soccer fields is a good choice if you have active kids or pets.
Although lawns require regular watering and mowing, they also provide many benefits. Lawns prevent soil erosion and weed growth and provide a safe place for play. They also increase home values and are an attractive addition to any landscaping plan. Lawns reduce pollution and can even keep your home cooler, according to Cornell University Gardening Resources.
Prepare the soil by removing any debris and weeds. Add compost and rake the soil to loosen it and break up dirt clods. Spread grass seed in a spreader, according to package directions. Don't apply more grass seed than recommended. Mulch the grass seed with a 1-inch layer of straw. Water it two or three times per day until the seed sprouts. Thereafter, water it once per day until it stands 3 inches high.
Caring for Grass
Fertilize lawns in the fall, rather than spring, advises Cornell University Gardening Resources. Follow the fertilizer package directions. Water deeply and infrequently to encourage lawns to develop strong roots. Mow with a sharp blade, keeping the lawns at a height of 3 inches. Leave the grass clippings to decompose, adding valuable nitrogen.