Grass can be cultivated in hard-to-grow areas, if you learn some tricks and tips, starting with deciding whether to use seed, sod, or plugs.
There are many reasons why someone would want to re-seed their lawn or property with grass. They include:
- reviving a dead patch
- repairing a damaged area
- renovating a distressed area
- re-establishing a grassy area
No matter the reason, it is important to realize that there are different grasses for different uses, and it is imperative that the right grass is used for the right reason. After ascertaining the reason for planting grass, it is useful to know both the soil conditions and the landscape type that will be involved. It is also important to know how watering and rainfall affect seed grass.
There two basic types of grass used in America, classified by climate. Cool season grasses are best for northern climates that have defined warm and cold seasons with regular rainfalls. Cool season grasses also work for transitional climates in the middle of the country. Warm season grasses work best in southern climates. Warm season grasses grow better when started by sod or plugs rather than seed. Often, because grassy areas often dry out, rye seed is used for "winter seeding" during the cooler months.
For northern regions, it is best to purchase cool-season grass seeds in a mixture or blend because these are more resistant to diseases. Mixtures have two or more species; blends contain two or more types of the same species. In southern regions, grass seeds are usually sold as monostands or non-mixtures.
For seeding new areas, bad dirt often causes difficulties. Use a till to loosen up the dirt down to 6 to 8 inches. Mix the dirt with compost if it is too wet or too dry. Pre-leach salty dirt with a large amount of water. Tall fesuce, bermudagrass and zoysiagrass are tolerant of salty soil.
Most cool season grasses require full sun for optimum growth so do not use Kentucky bluegrass seed or sod of any type for shady areas. Avoid overwatering and over-fertilizing with nitrogen and maintain an adequate balance of phosphorus and potassium. Mow grass in shady areas at the highest recommended height and prune of low-growing bushes.
Blanket new seed on slopes with mulch or hay to keep the seeds from being washed away.
The best kinds of grass seed mixtures contain a variety of seeds because it is harder for disease to infect all of the different kinds of seeds in a good mixture. Growing grass with the right mixture also will take into account any changes in the light and soil conditions, making growing a successful grassy area more likely.
Test soil for acid, using lime to bring down the pH level if necessary. Keep new seed uniformly watered and do not cut it until it is about four inches long. Future mowings should be no lower than 2 inches, an inch at a time.
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