When is the Best Time to Seed?
Spring and late summer are the two best times to seed your lawn. Newly seeded lawns require wet, cool conditions in order to be successful. These conditions occur in April and May and then again in late August and early September. Of the two, late summer, early fall is better to seed. By planting at this time the seed is able to take advantage of the wet, cool weather, lie dormant over winter and then take advantage of more moist cool weather in the spring. By doing this the turf grass will be well on its way to creating a healthy, strong root system more able to withstand the heat and dryness of summer. If you seed during the summer months, your newly planted turf will have a hard time establishing itself. Keeping the soil moist and cool is very difficult as well as expensive at this time of year. As the newly planted lawn struggles to survive, weeds will quickly move in and take advantage of any areas that are bare or thin.
Preparing Your Site
By starting from scratch you have a unique opportunity to ensure everything is done correctly to minimize problems you may encounter when seeding. Grade your site to prevent water from moving towards your house foundation. Ensure your site is weed free before you begin seeding. By using a non-selective herbicide you ensure your site will be weed free. Any herbicide with glyphosate as the main ingredient will be effective. Ensure you follow the directions on the label before applying. If you were unsure of which herbicide to use or how to apply it, give us a call, we would be happy to help you with any questions you may have. By using a herbicide with glyphosate in it, you will see results usually within 7-10 days. These herbicides are adsorbed by the soil so there is little movement or leaching within the soil. They also break down in approximately two weeks. After this time period, seeding can begin. Ideally 6-10 inches of a good loamy topsoil is required for a good stand of turf grass. Unfortunately this is not always the case. If your soil is predominately clay it will be very difficult for water to saturate this type of soil. Amend this type of site by adding peat moss or a good quality screened topsoil. Once you are satisfied with the grade and composition of your site, rake the area with a good quality garden rake. This will break up any large clumps of soil. Your soil particle size should ideally be fine without being powdery. Remove any sticks or other debris from your site. By doing this you minimize your chances for fairy ring to develop in later years.
Which Seed is the Right Seed?
When selecting a grass seed for your lawn you must take into account several factors. How much sun is present on your site? How much shade? What colour are you looking for? How much foot traffic will use your lawn? Generally speaking grass seed comes in a blend of 3-4 types. They are usually a blend of bluegrass, fescue, and ryegrass. By using the factors mentioned above, you will give your lawn a good chance to thrive.
Grass Seeds Most Commonly Used
1: deep green colouration
2: grows by rhizomes, encouraging a thick stand of turf
3: over-winters well
4: resistant to many diseases e.g. Red Thread
5: many cultivars to choose from
1: slow to germinate (25-35 days)
2: does poorly in shade conditions (powdery mildew)
3: needs regular watering and fertilization
1: does well in shady conditions
2: requires less watering and fertilization
3: over-winters extremely well
1: susceptible to Red Thread
2: slow to germinate (16-25 days)
3: does poorly in high traffic areas
Perennial Rye Grass
1: germinates quickly ( 7-10 days)
2: resistant to diseases
3: good colour
1: does not over-winter well
2: does poorly in shade conditions
3: grows in bunches, not by rhizomes
Generally speaking if you are seeding in a sunny area, look for a blend that is predominately bluegrass with a smaller percentage of fescue and rye grass. If you are seeding in a shady area, use a blend with a greater percentage of fescue.
1: cost, seeding a lawn cost far less compared to using sod
2: custom seeding, by seeding you are able to use different blends for different areas within your lawn, creating a healthier stand of turf
Once your site is prepared you are ready to seed. Although you can seed by hand, a good broadcast spreader will do a better, more even application. For best results do two applications of seed. Using half of your seed walk up and down to cover the entire site. Repeat this process in a perpendicular pattern to your first application. Your best bet for application rates is to follow the rates specified on the bag. A good rule of thumb to follow is 4-5 pounds of seed per 1000 square feet. Most spreaders will have some sort of application guideline on them. Try opening the spreader halfway and apply at a normal walking pace. Ideally you want to see 2-3 seeds per square inch. Choose a small test area and adjust your spreader until this number is achieved. Once you are finished seeding the site all you really have to do is keep the seed moist until germination. If you prefer you can lightly rake the seed into the soil for additional protection. By top-dressing with additional topsoil (approx. 1/4 inch) you will ensure a safe environment for the seed to germinate. The most important factor, however is to keep the seed MOIST. Water on a regular basis until the seed germinates. Generally 15-20 minutes per day will suffice. Water in the early morning or late evening to receive maximum benefit from your watering. Once your lawn has germinated, let it grow to a height of 3-4 inches before giving it its first cut. Usually this is after 4-5 weeks of growth. As stated before a newly planted lawn is an ideal environment for weeds to become established. Even your best effort in preparing your site does not guarantee weeds will not begin popping up. Weed seed can remain dormant for many years waiting for an opportunity to germinate. Weed seed may also be present in any topsoil you incorporate into your new site. Ensure your landscaper uses screened topsoil for your best chance of not having weeds germinate this way. By mowing on a regular basis you will deter new weed growth and your new lawn will eventually choke them out. If you wish to use a broad-leaf herbicide, follow all directions on the label. Wait for at least 5 cuts before using a herbicide. This is generally 4-6 weeks after your lawn has become established. As your new lawn continues to grow, monitor its progress. Over-seed and top-dress any areas that are not doing as well as the rest of the lawn. Generally speaking a new lawn will begin to look healthy, thick and vigorous within two years, so have a little patience. By using good cultural practices, mowing, watering, and fertilizing you will have a healthy lawn that requires little herbicide to remain weed free.