How to Plant Grass Seed in Spring

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There's really nothing quite like pulling into your driveway and seeing a perfectly manicured, well maintained lawn. If a nice, clean home tells the world, "I am the master of my domain," then a gorgeous lawn is the exclamation point. But having that excellent lawn requires a certain amount of discipline--the discipline to work hard at cultivating soil, planting and nurturing grass to good health. Starting a brand-new lawn is usually best in the fall, but if you plant early in spring and water carefully, you can succeed.

Buy grass seed. This is not as simple as it sounds, because there are many types of grass seed and several factors to consider about your yard. Do you live in a place where your grass won't get much rain? Do you want coarse or fine texture? Will children run and play on the grass? Are there many insects that plague your area? What shade of green do you prefer? Make sure that the grass seed you buy is rated by the National Turf Evaluation Program (NTEP). Carefully read the descriptions on the seed packages to determine which type of seed will work best in your yard. In most parts of the U.S., fescue and bluegrass are good choices.

Prepare the soil. If you are planting seeds from scratch, follow these steps: Loosen the top layer of soil, about 2 to 3 inches. Even out the soil, leveling uneven mounds and breaking up large clumps of dirt. Remove any debris you uncover, such as sticks and rocks.

If you are reseeding an already existing lawn, follow these steps: Mow the lawn as short as possible so that the ground soil is accessible to the reseeding process. Loosen any exposed spots of soil, but only about 1/2 inch deep. Even out the soil, as above. Remove any debris, as above.

Plant the grass seeds. Spread the seed over the entire area of the soil. You can use your hands for small areas, but it's best to use a mechanical distributor for large lawns. The ideal ratio here is to get 15 seeds per square inch. Any less than that will leave a noticeable weak spot in the lawn. Any more than that will cause seedlings to fight each other for nutrients and soil, which will ultimately have the same effect of creating weak spots in the lawn.
Important: Do not apply any weed control products until the lawn has grown and been mowed a few times.

Cover the seeds with about 1/4 inch of soil. This is also the time that you can add a grass seed fertilizer, if you have one.

Water your fledgling lawn. This is not as easy as it sounds. You need to keep the lawn moist without saturating it. Give it a light watering once a day until the grass has grown 2 inches tall.

Keep in mind that this is a general guide to growing a lawn in spring. Lawns vary due to geographical location, climate, insects, animals and other factors. If you have a problem with your lawn, you should seek local expertise.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you live in the South and are starting a brand-new lawn, you can plant warm-season varieties of grass in June. These types of grass grow better when started with sod or plugs, however.

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