Cultivating a lush lawn is a common goal of many homeowners. In addition to beautifying the landscape, established grass reduces soil erosion and may raise property values. When planting a lawn, seed selection, soil preparation and the choice of a sowing method all play a role in successfully growing grass.
Grass seeds come in different varieties, and most fall within two categories: warm season grasses and cool season grasses. Your local extension office can help you select the type most suited to your climate.
Removing all weeds is imperative before sowing a new lawn. For heavy weed infestation, apply vegetation killer a few weeks before sowing to remove the majority of the weeds.
Loosen the soil to a depth of at least 3 inches with a fine-tooth tiller to help tiny grass roots develop quickly. You may have to till the soil more than once to break up stubborn clods. After tilling, rake the area to remove twigs and level the soil.
Broadcast vs. Drill
Landscaping companies may use a grass drill when sowing lawn seeds; hand-operated drills are available from construction rental stores. A drill deposits the grass seed just below the surface of the soil, preventing seed loss from birds or from heavy rains that wash seeds away.
While seed germination may be higher with a drill, many homeowners choose to use a broadcast seed spreader to distribute their seeds. Adjust the spreader to release the recommended amount of seeds as specified on the seed package.
On existing lawns, over seeding is an option for homeowners who want a thicker lawn. After removing twigs and debris, use a lawn aerator to poke tiny holes in the soil to encourage new seeds to grow. Broadcasting or drilling is acceptable on existing lawns.
Tiny grass seedlings may suffer in extreme temperatures. In most locations, grass seeds germinate and grow successfully when sown in the spring or the fall, but not during the heat of summer. In addition, grass seeds should stay damp until they sprout. Water a seeded lawn with a fine spray to keep the soil moist, but not soggy, until the first grass shoots appear.