Establishing a Lawn from Grass Seed

Landscaping, Lawn Care

By Evan Rivers

Are you in need of grass for your newly built home? Is your grass patchy, brown, or unsightly? Every homeowner wants a carpet of beautiful, green grass. Having beautiful grass is important for improving and maintaining the overall look of your property. Laying grass seed can be the solution to a brand new lawn. There are several steps in the process of selecting and preparing your lawn for seeding, so keep reading to find out more.

THE FOUR BASIC STEPS OF ESTABLISHING A LAWN FROM GRASS SEED

  1. Selecting a grass type suitable for your area
  2. Preparing the soil
  3. Planting the seed
  4. Maintaining your new lawn

SELECTING TURFGRASS

When planning to establish a new lawn, selecting the proper grass type is a very important factor. Before deciding on a type of grass, you must first see which grasses work well in your area. The most popular grasses suitable for our area (Pageland, Jefferson, Lancaster, Monroe, Kershaw, and Chesterfield) are:

  • Centipede Grass
  • Bermuda Grass
  • Zoysia Grass
  • Fescue Grass

Then, after learning about the grasses that work well in our area, you must weigh the pros and cons of each type of grass. This will help you decide which grass is best for you.

home landscaping

Centipede Grass

Pros

  • Centipede grass can handle the South Carolina heat well
  • It is good at tolerating drought
  • It does not require frequent mowing

Cons

  • It grows and spreads slowly
  • It does not remain green in the winter
  • Depending on how much shade is on your property, it typically needs a lot of sun

Bermuda Grass

Pros

  • Bermuda grass is very durable
  • Can recover quickly from damage
  • Can tolerate heat 
  • Very resistant to disease

Cons

  • Requires frequent mowing
  • Since it grows quickly and uses up nutrients in the soil, it usually needs to be fertilized regularly
  • Not very tolerant to shade

Zoysia Grass

Pros

  • Zoysia grass grows thick and beautifully, like a carpet
  • It can handle a good deal of foot traffic
  • It isn’t as susceptible to weeds
  • Can handle some shade, but likes a lot of sun

Cons

  • It can be difficult to grow from seed, and sometimes establishes better from sod. 
  • The durability of the grass can make it more difficult to mow
  • Does not remain green in the winter

Fescue Grass

Pros

  • Fescue grass is low maintenance: does not require frequent mowing
  • Works well in the winter
  • Very durable

Cons

  • Sometimes falls victim to pests and diseases
  • Very coarse, not as comfortable to walk on

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Preparing the Soil

After selecting the perfect grass for your lawn and landscape, you may be ready to jump in and seed right away. However, you must first prepare your soil for the seed you are about to spread. If you do not take these important steps, your new seed may not grow well on your lawn. 

1. Topsoil

It is important to have a good layer of topsoil as a good environment for your grass to grow. Having a layer of topsoil is essential to making sure you have the nutrients you need for your grass. If excavation work was completed when building your house, it’s likely the topsoil was stripped away during this process. Therefore, you need to spread 8-10” of topsoil over the existing soil to replace the nutrient-rich soil.

2. Soil Testing

After laying your topsoil, you must make sure the soil has the ideal conditions for your grass to grow. To make sure this environment is fit for growing new grass, you should test your soil. Testing your soil is quick, inexpensive, and easy, and it will help develop a plan to promote the growth of your grass. The results from this test will tell you exactly how to fertilize your new lawn, how to adjust the pH of the soil (if necessary), and will show if other nutrient levels are in range. Once you learn if your lawn needs adjustment for your grass to grow, you can rest assured that the environment is ideal for growth of your new grass seed.

3. Grading

In order to promote the best growth of your grass, your seedbed needs to be as level as possible. If you have holes or uneven areas in your lawn, it is likely that water will pool in certain areas, and your grass seed may even wash away. Rivers Lawn and Landscape can grade your lawn by moving dirt to ensure that your lawn is flat enough to accommodate grass seed.

4. Cleaning

If your lawn is full of debris like stones, roots, or trash, the seeds may not make good contact with the soil. Then, your grass seed may not grow well. To make sure your grass seed has the best environment for growth, you should clean your lawn of all debris. Rivers Lawn and Landscape has the equipment to make this happen.

5. Tilling

If your soil is compacted, it is likely that oxygen and moisture cannot get down into the soil properly. If this is your situation, your soil needs to be loosened up by tilling. Tilling is the process of breaking up and loosening up the soil to allow for this penetration of air and moisture. As a result, your roots will receive everything they need to grow. Depth and method of tilling depends on your soil’s unique situation. If you need help choosing which method to use, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

lawn

6. Fertilizer/Lime Requirements

After receiving the results of your soil test, it is time to balance out those nutrients in your soil. Rivers Lawn and Landscape can help you select a fertilizer that will create the perfect balance of nutrients for your grass seed.

7. Final Grade

After completing all this work on your lawn, you likely have a lot of moved dirt. Before actually planting the seed, complete a final grading of the soil to ensure it is level. Then, firm the soil by using equipment such as a lawn roller. This will lead to a flat lawn and the perfect environment for grass seed.

SEEDING

There are several steps to make sure you properly apply your grass seed. 

  1. First, purchase top-quality seed. Seed available at big box stores is sometimes filled with mostly inert matter. If you need help selecting seed, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.
  2. The next step is to rake the entire seedbed with a garden rake. Spread the seed with a drop-type spreader or rotary spreader. Then, apply half of the seed uniformly in one direction over the seedbed. Lastly, apply the remainder at right angles of the direction you applied the first half.
  3. The next step is mixing. Using a garden rake, mix the seed with the top ¼” of soil then use a light roller to slightly compact the soil to ensure the seed has contact with the soil.
  4. Next, to prevent erosion and retain moisture, mulch the seedbed with the weed-free straw or another mulch approved for seeding lawns.
  5. Water the lawn immediately after planting and continue to water several times per day for 2-3 weeks depending on the weather. After the seeds have germinated, continue watering but decrease the frequency of irrigation and increase the volume of water so that the root zone is moistened.

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CARE AFTER PLANTING

Now that your grass seed is established and growing, it is time to start caring for your new grass. 

  • Once the grass reaches a height that is ⅓ higher than the suggested mowing height, you can mow it. Make sure your blades are sharp so that mowing doesn’t pull the seedlings out of the ground.
  • Then, continue to fertilize based on results from your annual soil tests.
  • As the year progresses, continue irrigating as needed depending on the weather.

NEXT STEPS

If you have any questions or need help establishing a new lawn, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the experts at Rivers Lawn and Landscape. We can help you every step of the way, from choosing which type of grass is best for your property, preparing your lawn for seeding, applying the seed, or routine maintenance after your lawn has grown. Please contact us if you would like to learn more about establishing a lawn from grass seed.