When it comes to growing a lawn, starting the grass from seed is generally the most budget-friendly method of lawn establishment. Though grass is hardy once it's growing, you need to provide it with just the right growing environment to ensure a healthy and vigorous start. The month that you start growing grass will vary depending on the grass species. For the best results, sow warm-season grasses during May, June or July.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Things you need
- Spade or power tiller
- Compost or aged manure
- Grass seed
- Seed spreader
- 5-10-10 fertiliser
Remove all surface debris, including rocks and sticks, and vegetation in the area in which you wish to start growing grass. If the area is heavily overgrown with weeds, you can accelerate the removal process by spraying a systematic, nonselective herbicide like glyphosate. If you choose the herbicide route, let the area sit for three weeks to allow all remnants of the herbicide to dissipate before you sow your grass seed.
Break up the soil to a depth of 6 to 8 inches with a spade, pulverising any dirt clods that measure more than 1 inch in diameter. If you're preparing a very large area, you can also opt for a power tiller, typically available for rent from garden stores and nurseries. Pushed similar to a lawnmower, a tiller can break up the soil with little physical effort on your part.
Pour 2 to 3 inches of aged manure or compost onto the soil surface, then mix it in with your spade or rake. This fertilises the soil, increases moisture retention and also improves aeration -- all factors that can help ensure a healthy lawn.
Rake the soil to even out its surface and help it settle. After raking, sprinkle the soil surface with water to moisten the top inch or two. This helps the soil settle even further.
Fill your seed spreader with grass seed. For the best and most even scattering results, use a drop-type or rotary spreader.
Scatter the seed as you walk across the prepared seedbed, spreading the seed at the rate listed on the seed label. This varies widely depending on the grass species you're growing -- bentgrass is generally spread at a rate of 0.454kg. for every 1,000 square feet, while fescue requires 3.63kg. for the same space -- and the manufacturer, as some seed companies add filler material.
Rake the soil surface to lightly mix the grass seed into the dirt.
Mulch your newly seeded soil. Mulch helps prevent the seed from getting eaten by birds or from being blown or washed away. Ohio State University advises spreading straw at a rate of 36.3kg. for every 1,000 square feet of exposed soil.
Water the soil two to three times a day, or as necessary to keep the top inch of soil consistently moist. Continue doing this until the grass seed has sprouted, which typically takes approximately three weeks. After this, water just once a day, using enough water to moisten the soil to a depth of 3 to 4 inches.
Fertilise your grass as soon as it has sprouted. For optimal fertilisation, North Carolina State University recommends spreading 0.454kg. of 5-10-10 lawn starter fertiliser for every 100 square feet of grass.
Mow your grass as soon as it has grown 150 per cent taller than its recommended height. This varies by species. For example, fescue should generally be kept at 3 inches while bermudagrass can be mowed lower at 1/2 inch. If you're not sure how tall your grass species needs to be, consult the University of California's online chart.
Tips and warnings
- For the most even coverage while scattering the seed, spread half of the required amount of seed while walking in vertical rows across the seedbed. Then spread the remaining half while walking in horizontal rows, thus creating a crisscross pattern that helps reduce the chance of gaps.
- Only mow your grass when it's dry. Mowing wet grass stresses the plants more.
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