Seeding your lawn in the fall is an inexpensive and satisfying way to increase the green space around your home or improve your existing grass area. In order for the lawn to establish successfully and for you to enjoy all the benefits of seeding, there are a few steps you should follow to maintain an inviting green grass area.
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What tips to consider for sowing lawn
Below are the main tips and instructions to follow if you want to develop a healthy and lush lawn.
When to sow lawn
The time of year you sow lawn seed has a direct impact on its success. The right timing will help ensure that your lawn seed germinates properly, grows quickly and stays healthy as the new seedlings become established. The best time to sow lawn seed depends on the region where the lawn is growing , and the type of grass you are growing. There are cool-season grasses, and planting in cool weather in the fall and spring coincides with the most active growing seasons for these grass species. Try to seed early in the season, but wait until daytime temperatures are in the 15 to 24 degree Celsius range. This is about the same as optimal soil temperatures for germination of cool-season grasses. Sunshine and rain in the spring both contribute to vigorous grass growth.
Warm-season turfgrasses are best planted during their optimal growing season, which is in spring and early summer rather than fall. Wait to plant warm-season grasses until daytime temperatures are above 26 degrees Fahrenheit and the threat of late frosts in your area has passed.
Prepare the site
A healthy, attractive grass lawn begins with proper site preparation. Proper site grading prior to planting is important as it will help water drain efficiently and make mowing easier. It is recommended that the lawn slope 1 to 2 percent away from buildings. Avoid steeper slopes, as they cause the lawn to dry out too quickly. Smooth the area well to avoid depressions that can lead to wet spots that are difficult to mow and susceptible to disease.
Prepare the soil properly
Optimal soil conditions promote successful seed germination and healthy lawn growth. To prepare your soil for seeding, follow these steps:
Test the soil of your grass area. Proper soil pH is critical to a healthy, thriving lawn. Most turfgrasses do best when the soil pH is between 6.0 and 7.5. Test results will give you an accurate picture of the condition of your soil’s pH and nutrient content, as well as recommendations for changes you should make.
If your soil test shows that the pH is out of range for healthy turf growth, soil amendments can restore the pH balance. Soils with too high a pH, known as alkaline soils, are common. To correct this, the application of elemental sulfur may be recommended. In areas where the soil is acidic, meaning the pH is too low, your lawn may need lime to restore nutrient availability. Always carefully follow the recommendations of your soil test and the instructions on the product label.
Add nutrients to the soil. The recommendations of your lawn test will tell you the nutrient needs of your soil. A high-quality lawn fertilizer can help restore optimal nutrient levels for healthy grass growth. Recommendations may include a fertilizer containing phosphorus.
Amend the soil structure. Conditions such as very sandy soil or heavy, compacted soil will affect seed germination, growth and the overall health of your lawn . For healthy turf growth, the soil needs to contain adequate air, but also retain the nutrients and moisture the grass needs. Improve aeration and water penetration into the new soil by removing rocks and incorporating organic matter such as compost at a depth of 5 to 10 inches before planting. You can often rent tillage equipment or aerifiers at home improvement or garden stores that loosen compacted soil by pulling out clods of soil to allow air and water to enter.
Choose the best seed
To successfully grow a healthy lawn, it’s important to buy high-quality seed that is appropriate for your climate and growing conditions. In many areas, you can choose a seed mix that is specific to your region. If you want to grow the grass in the shade, choose a lawn seed specifically designed for difficult, low-light conditions.
Sowing lawn in the fall: how to do it right.
How do you seed turf? Once amendments are complete and the soil surface is smooth and prepared, broadcast seed evenly according to the recommended seeding rate for your seed product. Remember to read the instructions on the seed package carefully and follow the guidelines. Incorrect seed placement can lead to unsatisfactory results.
Once you have broadcast the seed, lightly work it into the soil with a rake to a depth of about half an inch. Do not bury the seed deeper than this, as grass seed needs adequate light to germinate quickly. After raking, run a roller over the area to ensure good seed-to-soil contact, which your new seed needs.
Water seedlings appropriately.
For successful lawn seeding, it is important to keep grass seed and seedlings constantly moist , but not wet. Water newly seeded areas two to three times daily with a light spray to keep seeds moist. Stop watering when puddles form on the soil surface. Once seeds have germinated and grass seedlings begin to grow, gradually move to watering less frequently but more heavily. Reduce watering as the grass grows larger and more mature.
Monitor the establishment of the seed
Depending on the type of grass you are growing, germination can take anywhere from five to 21 days. Expect your new grass to take another four to 10 weeks to root well and become established. Most lawn grasses take a full season to mature to the point where they can be walked on constantly.
Once the new seedlings reach a height of about 2.5 inches, inspect the newly seeded area for bare spots or patches you may have missed. Re-seed the bare spots and repeat the process as needed until the new seedlings are dense and you are satisfied with the results.
Sowing lawn in autumn: mowing, maintenance, fertilizing.
Once the lawn reaches a height of 5 inches, it is ready to be mowed. Always follow best practices for mowing grass areas, including the recommended mowing height for your grass species. Never remove more than one-third of the grass blades in a single mowing, or you will stress your lawn and encourage disease, weeds and poor growth. For cool-season grass planted in the fall, the first mowing may have to wait until next spring.
Keep your lawn growing strong with regular maintenance, including watering. Water as needed to supplement rainfall, so your lawn receives about an inch of water per week under normal conditions.
If you are seeding lawns in the fall, begin fertilizing four to eight weeks after seed germination, but no later than November. For warm-season grasses, wait until next spring to fertilize your new grass area. After the initial fertilizer applications, you may need to fertilize up to four times per year, depending on your soil test recommendations. Retest the soil every three to four years and adjust accordingly.