The heat of the summer really takes its toll on the average home lawn. Between the heat, lack of rainfall, insect problems, and weeds, many lawns are suffering with dead areas. In the northern areas of the United States, the period from mid-August through mid-September is an excellent time to revitalize your lawn by planting grass seed in the areas that look bad. During this time period, new grass has the opportunity to get established before the weather turns cold. If your whole lawn needs to be replaced, this is a good time to do that also. Here are some helpful tips for improving the look of your lawn.
Select the Right Grass for the Area
Selecting the right seed is very important. If the area is always shady, then purchase a shade tolerant seed. This applies to sunny areas as well. There are also specific types of grass that can be planted in high-traffic areas where people tent to walk on the grass a lot. A number of companies have made different formulations of seed for these different growing conditions. The packages specify where the seed should be planted. In the past few years, companies like Scotts have come out with lawn patching products that have included the seed, mulch, and fertilizer all in one. These are excellent products for smaller areas of the lawn, but are definitely more expensive than seed alone.
Remove the Dead Grass
In areas where you want to plant grass seed, remove the dead grass first. Do this with a rake or spade. The reason is that you want the new grass seed to be in direct contact with the soil. If you place it on top of dead grass, it will not have the opportunity to sprout and develop a root system into the ground.
Prepare the Soil
Once the soil is exposed, use a shovel to loosen up the top few inches of soil. You don’t need to dig deep. Then use a garden rake to smooth the soil. The idea is to provide an environment where the grass seed can easily grow. If the soil is hard and difficult to work with, mix some good topsoil into the area to improve the soil quality.
Plant the Grass Seed
Once you have selected the type of seed you need and prepared the soil, it’s time to plant. Here is the procedure I use and it works quite well. Sprinkle the dry seed on the area per package recommendations. Walk on the area to press the seed into the soil. Apply some seed starter fertilizer per package recommendations. Cover the seed with a fine layer of soil.
Water the New Grass Seed
Once the seed is planted, water the area. Watering new grass seed can be a bit tricky. When watering, you want to thoroughly wet the area, but you don’t want to water too deeply. Water the area gently at least once a day. The key is that you don’t want the new seedlings to dry our, otherwise they will quickly die. Once the grass has sprouted and the plants are beginning to grow, you then water the area less frequently, but for a longer period of time to encourage the roots to grow into the soil. This goes for standard seed, and the lawn paths products as well.
Mow the New Grass
Wait until the new area is at least two and a half inches high before mowing. This usually takes at least four weeks. Also avoid walking on the new grass until the first mowing.
Read the directions on the label of the package for more detailed directions relating to the type of seed you have purchased. Buy seed from a reputable company. It is tempting to buy cheaper seed from a no-name company, but you will most likely regret it. If you read the label, you will notice that the grasses used may not be of desirable varaties. Also, cheaper seed may actually include weed seeds. You are spending a lot of time planting the seed. You might as well do it right the first time.