Lawns are established using two methods--seeding and sod. Seeding is less expensive and provides greater flexibility in the type of seeds and coverage. Proper seeding requires knowing the type of grass seed and the land being planted. Various requirements and problems may arise after the initial seeding as well.
Lawn seeding requires ground preparation to ensure good plant growth. Grass struggles in unprepared ground. A chosen area should have a tilled depth of at least 3 inches and be cleared of stones, roots or debris, letting seeds and roots establish themselves. Amending the soil with compost, manure or starter fertilizer worked into the soil strengthens the shoots. Use a pH test kit to determine what types and amounts of fertilizing are needed. Moist soil benefits the seeds, letting them take in moisture.
Grass seed is applied through overseeding, hand spreading and seed spreaders. Methods are determined by conditions such as coverage requirements, area of coverage, location and the amount of seed being planted. Overseeding is used with an established lawn that has brown patches or bare spots. Hand spreading works with small areas such as edges, corners or thin strips where seed spreaders cannot provide coverage. Seed spreaders are used for bare or sparse lawn cover over a large area.
The use of a specific grass seed depends on various factors, including location, seasonal climates, soil conditions, rainfall and maintenance requirements. Individual grasses require different combinations for effective growth. Fescue is a cool-season grass that grows quickly and can handle drier soil. Bermuda grass grows in subtropical climates and takes up to 21 days to germinate when given full sun. Bent grass is a high-maintenance grass used primarily for golf courses and areas with high foot traffic. Buffalo grass can be used where most other grasses fail, because of it's adaptability to most environments.
Lawn seeding requires constant soil moisture from initial planting to establishment. Planting seeds in early spring and autumn reduces watering needs. Use early morning and early evening hours to water because moisture lost due to evaporation decreases. Drier climates may require a third daily watering to avoid drying out the seeds or sprouts. Water daily until the grass reaches 2 inches high. After the grass has established itself, watering can be scaled back to twice weekly for 10 weeks.
Problems can arise with improper seeding. Shallow planting causes loss to birds feeding or wind gusts carrying them away. Shallow watering of the grass can result in weeds germinating over the grass, causing lawn failure. Mowing after sprouts appear can cause lawn failure due to plant stress. Foot traffic over newly seeded areas causes damage to developing plants. Fertilizing too early causes the grass to deprive growing roots of nutrients.