How to Grow Grass in Massachusetts

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Grow Grass in Massachusetts
Grow Grass in Massachusetts (Image: www.itp.nyu.edu)

Growing grass is something that many Massachusetts homeowners take very seriously. The look of your lawn also affects how others view your house. A well-kept lawn is also one of the easiest and least expensive ways to beautify your property. You can hire a lawn care professional or company to care for your lawn, but it can be costly. Learning to grow grass yourself is rewarding for the self-satisfaction of creating something so beautiful.

Things You'll Need

  • Grass seed
  • Water
  • Dolomitic lime (optional)

Choose the a cool-season grass for the Massachusetts climate. Cool-season grasses are low-maintenance and can save you money and time because they require less mowing and watering. The best grasses to choose from are Kentucky bluegrass (soft, fine-texture), perennial fescues (good for sun and shade), and perennial ryegrasses (good for high traffic areas, quick germination, but require full sun).

Decide if you want to grow your grass from seed or lay down sod. Growing grass from seed is the least expensive, but takes the longest. Growing grass from sod costs a lot more, but the positive is that once it's laid down, you have an instantly green lawn. The rest of this article will deal with growing from seed.

Purchase your grass seed--look for mixtures, not blends. A blend will have only one species of grass but several different cultivars. You want your lawn to be resilient and genetically diverse, so buy a grass mixture that contains multiple species of grass. This enables you to have grass that thrives in many conditions, like sun and shade.

Rake the area over which you want to plant grass. You may have a big area of soil or you may have an existing dead lawn. The process is the same--take a metal rake and loosen the topsoil so that the seed has something to "hook" onto and grow. Press down while raking to help you loosen the soil. If your area is completely trashed, you can till the top 4-6 inches of the soil with a rototiller and add fertilizers.

Check for pine trees in the area. If you have pine trees on/near your lawn, you will need to add dolomitic add to your soil before laying grass seed down. Pine trees/evergreens make the soil very acidic and steal nutrients from healthy soil. Your grass will not thrive if you don't put dolomitic lime down, as it "sweetens" the soil and neutralizes the pine's acidity. Look for pelletized dolomitic lime--it's easier to spread and doesn't create as much dust (less likely to inhale). Spread using a lawn spreader, it gives an even application.

Add starter fertilizer before you put grass seed down, but this is optional. If you really want to ensure nutrients before your grass seed comes up, you can lay down manure. This is a natural way to fertilize your lawn without heavy chemicals. Simply spread the manure down before or after spreading your grass seed (a light coat so as not to choke the seed and prevent it from coming up).

Spread your grass seed. Use a broadcast spreader, a wheeled or hand-held one is sufficient. Set the spreader for the right setting (you can find this on your grass seed bag).

Water your grass regularly. Within a week, you should see the beginnings of grass coming up. Make sure to stay off the area while the grass is growing--give the seed a chance to do its job without getting trampled. Once your grass is established, cut back on watering, particularly on rainy weeks. Eventually, you will not have to water often because Massachusetts gets frequent precipitation.

Mow when your grass reaches 3 to 3.5 inches tall. Never cut the grass shorter than 2 inches or remove more than a third of the blade height at one time. Keep grass mowed regularly. During the summer this will be weekly, but during the spring and fall, it may be monthly, depending on the kind of grass you are growing.

Tips & Warnings

  • The best you can do it educate yourself. There are many "pre-made" mixes at your garden center, but many are unnecessary and use too many chemicals. Don't get confused by all of the options--know what grass you want/need and buy that. Skip the "fancy" custom formulas.
  • Aerate your lawn yearly to keep your grass thriving. This is especially important for clay soils in parts of Massachusetts.
  • Be careful when handling fertilizers, they are made up of chemicals and can be damaging to the environment and water supply. Keep them tightly stored away from water or heat.
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