How to Plant Grass Seed

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Planting grass seed.

Planting grass seed is a pretty simple process, but there are a few things that you should know.

What Kind of Grass Seed Should I Buy?

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First let’s start with selecting a good grass seed for your situation and some mistakes to avoild.  It’s best to buy a grass seed that is made up of a variety of different kinds of grass seeds all blended together.

Why a blend?  Why not just 100% Kentucky Blue Grass?

There are several reasons for using a blend of grass seeds in your lawn.  Like all living things grass seeds can be attacked by different pests or conditions and if you have only one kind of grass seed in your lawn you could lose your entire lawn to an attack from insect, disease or other pest.

For instance, perennial rye grasses can be killed by pythium blight which is a disease that is triggered by really humid conditions.  This isn’t something to be overly concerned about if you have a blend of grasses in your lawn because the Kentucky blue grasses and the fescue grasses won’t be affected by the blight.

But you want perennial rye grasses in your lawn because they are quick germinating, they have a nice green color and most of the varieties used today have a fine texture, almost as fine as Kentucky blue grass.

Secondly, it takes Kentucky blue grass a long time to germinate, up to 28 days, whereas perennial rye grasses can germinate in as few as 5 or 6 days.  Quick germination is important because if you planted a lawn of 100% Kentucky blue grass chances are the lawn will be full of quick germinating weeds before the Kentucky blue has a chance to even come up.  So when you use a blend of grass seed, the fast germinating perennial rye grasses act as a nurse crop protecting the Kentucky blue grass seeds while they go through their long germination period.

Click here to see grass seed germination time.

The Price of Grass Seed Matters.

Like everything else, with grass seed you get what you pay for.  My suggestion is to go to a place that sells bulk grass seed, maybe a full service garden center or  farm supply store and shop price.  Find a good middle of the road blend of grass seed.  Don’t buy the lowest price and don’t buy the highest priced seed.  If you buy really cheap grass seed it’s likely to have a lot of annual rye grass and other not so desireable grasses.  You’ll end up with a lawn with a lot of thick bladed grasses that would be more suitable for a pasture.

A good blend of grass seed will have a blend of different kinds of fescues, different kinds of perennial rye grasses and some Kentucky blue grass.  Don’t get too worked up over the percentages because I don’t believe that the percentage of Kentucky blue grass in a pound of grass seed is acurate or relevant because Kentucky blue grass seeds are really, really tiny and have a lot more seeds per pound than do rye grasses.  I was once told that in a pound of perennial rye grass there are approxiamtely 250,000 seeds whereas a pound of Kentucky blue grass will have close to 1.5 million seeds per pound!  True or not?  I don’t know.  If you count them let me know what you find.

But in any cases, use a blend of grass seed and opt for the middle to upper price range of seed.  If you live in the south where grasses are warm season grasses the same rules apply, it’s just that the kinds of grass you have differ.

Preparing the Ground Before Planting Grass Seed.

Before you start preparing the area you want to seed, give it a quick visual evaluation.  Is it weedy?  Does it contain thick bladed, undesirable grasses that you don’t want in your lawn?  If so, I highly recommend that you first spray the area with an non selective herbicide that will not linger in the soil.  I use something that contains glyphosate.   But keep in mind, non selective means that the herbicide will kill any and all vegetation that it touches so read the label and wear the proper protective clothing.  Once you apply the herbicide you usually only have to wait about 72 hours then you can till under the weeds that you sprayed.  They may not look dead yet, but they are.

If you prefer to not use an herbicide then just till the weedy areas.  Wait about 5 days, till them again, and keep repeating this process.  This constant turning then drying will kill the weed and any roots in the soil as well.  I’d continue this process for at least two or three weeks.

You need to prepare the soil before you plant grass seed.  If you just sprinkle the grass seed on hard packed soil as soon as it rains or you water all of the seed will wash into puddles and you’ll have a lawn full of bare spots.

To prepare the soil you should work the soil to a depth of about 2″ to 3″ then rake the soil smooth, but leaving small clumps of soil won’t hurt a thing and will actually help to hold the seed in place.  By working the soil before planting you are giving the soil the ability to absorb water and not have it all run off.  This allows the seed to get wet and become slightly embedded in the soil without it washing away.  If you work the soil too deep it will be difficult to get it raked out and it will later settle into a very uneven surface.

Planting the Grass Seed.

Once you have the soil prepared you want to spread the seed evenly over the area to be seeded.  A good rule of thumb for planting a blend of grass seed is 5 lbs. per one thousand square feet but I suggest you read the label on the bag or talk to your seed supplier just to make sure of what they recommend.

Just sprinkle the grass seed over the surface of the soil.  If you use a rotary type of spreader you will get good even coverage.  You can buy a spreader with wheels that you push, or if you are doing a relatively small area they make small hand held spreaders that you  crank.  Either one works just fine.  Once you have all the seed applied what I do is take a push broom and drag the push broom over the surface of the area that I just seeded.  What this does is lightly mixes the seed and the soil and covers some of the seed with a light layer of soil.  This aids in germination and also hides the seeds from the birds.  But don’t over do it.  Just drag the broom backwards with a slight amount of down pressure.

Mulching Over Grass Seed.

Once you have applied the grass seed to your lawn you should apply some kind of a mulch over the seeded area.  There are a number of options.  Straw is the old standard and considered somewhat old fashioned, but straw has it’s advantages.  When you spread straw over your seeded area the straw lays in a criss cross pattern and some of the staw is against the seed and the soil and some of the straw is slightly elevated over the seeded areas because it is criss crossed.  Think about the size of a grass seed and how tiny it is.  With a single strand of straw suspened over a grass seed that single strand of straw actually provides a great deal of shade over the seeded area like latice over a patio.  That’s one of the advantages of straw.  The disadvantage?  It blows all over the place.

What about peat moss?

I don’t like using peat moss over grass seed because peat moss is either wet or dry.  When it’s dry it’s hard to get wet.  It actually repels water.  Once it’s wet it stays wet and if you keep it wet it’s fine.  But if it dries out it’s difficult to re wet it.  Is peat moss terrible to use over grass seed?  No, but it doesn’t provide the shade that straw does.

What about Grass Seed Starter Mulch?

You know, the green stuff in a bag that looks like hydro mulch?  I actually like this stuff because most it also contains just the right amount of starter fertilizer for grass seed and it’s easy to apply by hand or with a spreader.  When it gets wet it swells up and hold moisture pretty well.  I’ve used it a number of times with really good results.  I like it.

What about Hydro Seed?

Hyrdo seed shmyro seed!  Hydro seed is okay but there is no magic in hydro seed.  Hydro seed contains three things.  Grass seed, whatever kind you select, hydro mulch which is okay but nothing special, and fertilizer.  I’ve done a lot of hydro seeding and I can assure you, hydro seed works exactly like I describe above.  When you hydro seed you fill a big tank with water, then you dump in grass seed, hydro mulch and fertilizer.  Sometimes if you are seeding on a hill they dump in glue.  Yes, glue.  Does the glue work?  I dunno.  It holds for a while but when it does wash it takes large areas with it.

The big advantage to hydro seed is that the seed is thoroughly soaked before it is applied.  So if you seed manually then water really well you’ve accomplished the same thing.  Hydro seed can and will wash out easier than a hand seeded lawn.  And with hydro seed everything is mixed together then applied as a slurry.  But this means that some of the grass is in touch with the soil and some of it is stuck to the hydro mulch and is actually on top of the mulch instead of under it.

So . . . if you’ve got a lot of money and don’t want to do the work yourself let somebody hydro seed the area for you, but don’t think that only a hydro seeded lawn will grow.  Grass seed is grass seed and the only difference between hydro seeding and hand seeding is the application process.

Take Care of  Freshly Planted Lawn.

Freshly planted grass seed needs to be watered on a regular basis.  You have to be really careful to not miss a watering because once you water the grass seed the first time germination is initiated.  If you miss a watering allow the seed to dry out once it has germinated the little tiny grass plant will die and the seed will be spent.  That’s why watering after you seed is so critical.  Those little tiny grass plants are really, really fine, like baby hair.  If you let them dry out they will die for sure.

That’s why I like seeding in the mid fall or early spring.  The soil temperature and air temperatures are warm enough for good germination but the sun is not as hot as it is during the summer months.  Spring and fall are the ideal time for planting grass seed.  And it usually rains more in the fall and spring.

Okay, what did I miss?

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Comments

  1. M.O. smith says

    It’s amazing how you always know what information I’m in need of at a particular time!
    Do you have a special ESP connection?
    thanks for the advice on seeding a lawn patch. I failed the first time I tried, but did it again (wrong time of year, I know!!) and from your article, I should be successful.
    Keep the info coming!
    M.O.S.

    • Mike says

      M.O. I try really hard to send out information that people need when they need it. If only folks knew how long it takes to get ready to send one of these newsletters, I have to do a lot of writing before hand and make multiple blog posts. Not complaining, just hope folks realize how time a person spends on this type of work. Sometimes I drive all over just to get a few photos that then have to be edited etc. But I’ve been doing it for 13 years, it must appeal to me.

    • Sandra Mullins says

      Mike,
      Thank you so much for all the helpful info you provide. I have thought about doing the gardening,but I’m older now and cannot be out in heat due to MS. I live out in the country and have the space. It’s probably harder to do the gardening out like this. It would probably be hard to get enough people to come out ahead with it.

      Thank you though for all the great info. I’m like another person who said you always seem to know what to put in your emails just the right time. I’ll let you know how my grass planting comes out.We have lots of shade trees and not much sun can penetrate through.
      Happy planting,
      Sandra

  2. says

    I had to replant an area because the city dug up a portion of my lawn. Being an ex-concrete finisher,I used an 8′screed to level the ground,(yes,shovel,& rake too,to get out the large rock’s)& spread the seed mix,bought at Lowes,by hand,& covered it with straw. I have a great looking lawn. At least the dug up part.haha Really,my whole lawn look’s good!

    • Mike says

      Michael, that’s funny. I guess we all use the tools we are most comfortable with. I like to sit in a wheelbarrow and eat lunch and I’m sure you have as well.

  3. Scott Warren says

    Two things I would add to your article. First, after the soil has been worked over, an application of 5-7 pounds of lime per 1000 square feet. Allow that to be rained on a couple of times, a good rain.
    Next apply 10-10-10 granular fertilizer at the exact same time you seed in at the rate of about 5 pounds per 1000 square feet. Best time to seed in would be middle to late September, though seeding on top of the last snow works very well too if the soil was preped in the fall.

    • alice says

      hi..did he know how to get grass to grow on rocks..and, last? I moved from the city to a semi-rural area, into new construction. Found out, much too late, that the builders were scraping the topsoil off, selling it, and, replacing it with many, many, many rocks. Help!!!! After over 30 years of slowly removing as much as I could..one year with a bad back and hiring help raking in the fall caused most of them to be raked back into the lawn (they wanted it to look neater than all those rocks around the edge of the lawn. Please issue an IQ test to be used before hiring help around your yard. I couldn’t drive, and barely walk until this spring. There were places that I roto-tilled over 2 and a half feet..that section is so bad that after a couple of days, I just stood and cried…please warn people about new construction and new hires. thanks, alice

    • Mike says

      Pat, I have no experience with Bermuda grass but I would have to assume you plant the seed just like we plant grass seed here in the north.

  4. Jim says

    Thanks, we need this infomation in OK. I have one question, what mixture fo seed do you suggest for shaded yards?

  5. Trevor says

    I’ve been trying to re-seed my lawn. I STARTED in the spring, like you (and everyone else) suggest, but I just have a small tiller, and really can’t till more than 100 square feet in an evening after work, maybe 200 on a saturday or sunday. So summer hit long before I was finished.

    Right now, I have planted maybe 1500 square feet with a cheap brand of fescue mix, and 500 square feet with a Pennington coated shade-tolerant fescue mix (on the shady part of my yard). When the temperature wasn’t in the 90s or higher, it was all coming up, except in a few spots. But when it started getting hot, only the stuff in the shade came up. But I don’t know if that’s because it was cooler under the shade, or because the seed was better, or maybe a combination.

    Anyway, I’ve notice, since it started getting really hot, that even where the grass sprouted, it’s being choked out by the ugly grass that was there before I tilled. Guess I should have put more Roundup on it. Also, the weeds are coming back. It’s not quite so bad in the shady areas, but even there, the new grass is competing with the previous grass (though it does look like I’ve gotten rid of the moss, at least). But in the sunny areas, I can see little if any of the grass that I planted, just the old grass and weeds. And about half of it never emerged at all, either because it was too hot when I got around to planting it, or because the soil is so hard.

    The last hundred square feet I planted, after tilling, I mixed in some muck from the ditch down by the road. In addition to being very wet, this foul-smelling muck is rich in organic matter. Didn’t seem to help, but again, it was planted when temps were well into the 90s.

    I’ve given up on it for now, thinking it’s way too hot for the seed to grow, even if I did everything right. I might just start over in the fall. But my problem is, I have 10,000+ square feet of lawn, and between my job and my tiny tiller, I can’t till more than 1,000 square feet a week. So how long is this window in the fall for optimal planting time?

    Also, the seed I planted after it got too hot – do you think it’s DEAD? Or is it just waiting for the temperatures to get cool before it germinates? And the seed that’s still in the bag – the bag has been outside, under my porch, so it didn’t get wet, but it does get some directd sunlight in the morning. Do you think the heat might have affected it? Or can I still plant it in the fall? Not sure I want to, because it’s the cheap stuff that got choked out by the old grass. But I’m not sure I can afford to plant 10,000 square feet with the good stuff.

    Thanks for your time.

    Regards,
    Trevor

    • Mike says

      Trevor, the reason that you only have grass in the shaded areas is because the seed in the sunny areas germinated but dried out and died when the hot summer sun hit. It wasn’t bad seed or anything like that. I’ve seen this many times. The seed germinates just fine, but when it’s hot and sunny you really need to water at least two or three times a day. For most people that’s not practical. That’s why I advocate early spring and fall for planting grass seed.
      Trust me, I used to install lawns and summer is just flat out challenging to grass seed.

    • Randy says

      I assume that you don’t live in a hot climate. If you live in the northeast, we have what’s known as cool weather grasses. These are Kentucky Blue Grass, Fescues and Rye grass. These grasses will not germinate above 85 degrees as opposed to the southern warm weather grasses which will not germinate below 85 degrees. Early spring and mid fall are the best times to plant the cool weather grasses.

      • Mike says

        Randy,

        I’m in Ohio. All we have are cool season grasses and around here landscapers install lawns all summer long. I myself have installed hundreds of lawns, many in the dead of summer well above 85 degrees. I’d prefer not to, but all landscape jobs are deadline sensitive and nobody is going to tolerate a contractor waiting for a “better” day to plant the grass. They want it done now! Homeowners and more importantly contractors on big construction projects.

  6. Norma says

    I suddently see a lot of crabgrass invading my lawn. What can I do now. I’m in Long Island, NY and temperatures are about 80-90 right now. I’m concerned that if I don’t do something now I’ll wind up with a crabgras lawn.

    Any suggestions?

    • Mike says

      Norma, the easiest way to deal with crabgrass is apply a lawn treatment designed to get rid of crabgrass then about 10 days later reseed the area. You really don’t have to nor should you dig the area up. You have crabgrass because your lawn is thin or drought damaged. Re seeding will help a lot.

    • Randy says

      You don’t have alot of choices when you have mid to late season crabgrass. I am on Long Island like you.
      Crabgrass is an annual weed. That means it dies at the end of the season and first hint of frost. Even though it dies, crabgrass will drop up to 150,000 seeds for the following season. This is why we use crabgrass preventer in the spring. This product prevents crabgrass seeds from germinating, but will also prevent all seed from germinating….including grass seed!
      If you have crabgrass now, wait until the fall and spray with Roundup in the blue and white bottle. This is a non selective vegetation killer BUT you will also be able to plant new seeds 10 short days later. Good advice Mike!

  7. George Harris says

    Have numerous dead spots in my St.Augustine lawn due to chinch bugs and other critters. Spread insecticides several times to no avail. Also used weed and feed to kill weeds encroaching from neighbors’ yards with similar results. Considering ripping it all out and planting Bahia grass, which is more resistant to bugs, but really looks awful in cool months in central Fla. To Bahia, or not to Bahia; that is my question!!

  8. Mikey says

    Mike, I seeded my lawn about 4 days ago with Winning Colors Plus (tall fescue/blue grass mix) and so far so good. However, I noticed in the forecast that it will hit 90 degrees in 3 days. Should last about a day, then back to low 80′s/upper 70′s. Do I need to be concerned?

  9. Terry Fonddriest says

    Mike, I always enjoy the information you send. This one about planting grass seed is where I have a question. I have many spots that have turned brown. I intend to deep rake, sow seed and cover with grass clippings. What do you think. Strew I know is better, but the grass clippings are free.
    Thank you, your the best.
    Terry

  10. Mary Smith says

    Mike, your site has been very helpful. I have a yard that was chocked with weeds. I’ve killed the weeds (well, most of them) and now have a yard with a lot of bare spots. I have about 30 lbs of grass seed… Rye, fine fescues, and k.blue and bentgrass… I don’t want to till. Can I just spread the seed? And what can I do to help it along? The rain starts next week (Oregon) so that is when i’m planning on planting. thank you ~ Mary

    • Mike says

      Mary, you don’t have to til those bare spots. If you could loosen the soil slightly or just poke some holes in the areas that are completely bare that would help. I’m just concerned that if you spread the seed on completely bare areas that are smooth, the rain will was the grass seed to the edges of the bare spots. But if the soil is slightly soft, apply the seed, then press it against the soil so it sticks in place. Placing straw over the seeded areas is good, but it can be messy.

      You can also buy seed starter mulch, usually blue or green in color and it contains a seed starter fertilizer. When the mulch pellets get wet they swell up and do a good job of holding moisture against the seed. By all means seed right now to take advantage of fall rain and warm sun.

  11. mike freeland says

    hi mike. is there any type of glue spray that i can use in my pump sprayer to keep the straw from blowing of my newly seeded lawn? i have about a 23 x 23 ft area that i put down
    5 days ago. put down a light layer of straw and wet it down.
    next morning where was the straw? not on my yard!!
    it was all over the neighbors yards!!! i raked up straw for
    4 hours!!!whew!what a mess.sure would be nice to put the straw down and spray it with a glue like substance to keep it from blowing all over the place and not impede the grass seed growth. thank you mike

    • Mike says

      Mike,

      Chances are not. They do make a glue that is used when hydro seeding but I don’t know that it’s available nor would it work with straw. Some stretch strings across the yard. Best thing is to wet it and hope for the best. Early spring the lawn will likely be fine without it.

  12. cheryl says

    I have a question: the “grass seed starter mulch” in the “green bag”–can you tell me the name of the product? I am looking online on amazon right now & I think you mean “Encap Llc 12# fast acting lawn starter mulch kit” but I am not sure. Also, I can’t tell if this product has seed in it already or not. I am hoping not b/c I already ordered the mixed seed, as you suggested. I just want to get the right mulch to cover the seed, when it gets here next week. thanks for your article.

  13. Todd Y says

    Hi Mike, I just planted a new lawn and did not put starter fertilizer down when I seeded. It has been about 3 weeks and the grass has started growing. Is it too late to add any kind of fertilizer?

    • Mike says

      Todd,

      At this point since the grass is so young and tender I’d wait until it’s been there for at least 90 days. Just keep it watered and it should be fine. It will be a little pale, but first shot of fertilizer will green it right up.

  14. says

    When installing new yard should you roll ground to compact soil. Had about 8 inches added in some areas and it is very soft to walk on. Should this have been rolled with a weighted roller??

    • Mike says

      Todd,
      If the ground is really soft it probably would be a good idea to compact it a bit so you don’t end up with all kinds of un-uniform settling. But if you compact it much you should loosen the top 1″ or so to get a good seed bed before planting. Or . . . sow the seed, then roll with a weighted, but not super heavy roller. That will compact the soil while at the same time pressing the seed into the soil which will help and speed germination.

      Now I realize somebody is going to come along and tell me that compacting a lawn before or while planting is counter productive. But I don’t want you to compact it like a highway. All you want to do is eliminate settling that will ruin your lawn.

  15. says

    Mike,

    I had the yard seeded and have about 3 inches of growth. I know it was not rolled prior to seeding and now i sink when walking on it. I will not be able rake the yard or mow. Can anything be done at this point? I have the company coming out to look at the problem. I need your advice.

    • says

      I have the same question Todd. I don’t have and do not want to rent a roller and probably couldn’t push it anyway. How important is this step? I have looked everywhere. I guess we might have to call a lawn service.

      • Mike says

        Naomi,

        The roller isn’t a necessary step unless the seed bed is soft and spongy. Usually just working the soil is enough unless you put in inches and inches of topsoil, which I really don’t recommend because topsoil is loaded with weed seed and roots.

  16. Deirdre says

    Hello. We are complete beginners attempting to seed our existing lawn. Currently it has a somewhat green appearance but is not grass blades when you look up close, rather an assortment of crabgrass and other green grassy weeds. We spread topsoil across a large portion of the front lawn without any other preparation such as weed killer or sand application. Planning on spreading seed Tonight. The weather has been 40-60s this week with no rain but rain is coming tomorrow with temps in the 70-80s this weekend. I would like to get your advice on if we should see success with this approach. Thanks so much! Property is almost an acre.

    • Mike says

      Deirdre,

      Chances are the grass seed will grow in you keep it watered. Straw would help a lot. But you are likely to have a lot of weeds in the lawn, both from the existing weeds and the weed seed in the topsoil. You can always treat the new lawn for weeds later this year.

  17. Tim says

    I sprayed a large portion of my yard in march (7500 square feet). I killed off all of my shade grass. I removed three black walnut trees that were damaged from storms a year ago. The shade grass could not handle the sun. I resprayed the weeds, and waited three days, and tilled it up. I planted Bermuda grass seed (I have had success in the past). I spread my seed, took an old ballpark drag, and drug it by hand over the new seed onetime. I think this is the same idea of your broom. I then rolled the entire ground. Everything was set, THEN, we had storms! An inch of rain turned into about six over two and a half days, with most of the rain as a downpour with flash flooding. Did I waste $65 dollars on seed? The only area that needs my immediate attention is at the bottom of a valley where it looks like a mini Grand Canyon. Yesterday I tried to fix the ruts, but it was still too wet. I tried to scan the rest of the soil, and I couldn’t tell if I was seeing seed, lime, or fertilizer.

    Do I wait about 4 more days to see where I have germination? Or do I re-seed the whole area. I just worry about getting a good seed contact with the ground and damaging any new plants. If I planted now, I wouldn’t be stepping on any new plants.

    To save money and wait until I plant, is there any advice not to hurt the new plants if any seed survived?

    Thanks.

    • Mike says

      Tim,
      This is a tough call. You did everything right to prevent damage from the storm. What I’d do is look for areas where all of the seed may have washed into. I don’t think you wasted your money, and since it is now June I’d just water and take care of what grass comes up. You can spot treat in the fall when conditions are more favorable.

  18. Merri says

    Hi-Mike. I live in Arizona and am not sure what type(s) of grass seed blends that are best for this climate. I live exactly between Phoenix & Flagstaff, in the (Verde Valley) town of Camp Verde. My yard is full of non-ending rocks of all sizes. I’ve dug up & raked as much as I possible could. My neighbors have succeeded in growing grass in their yards, but have small bare spots w/also thick grassy spots. Some parts of the lawns are also greener then other parts. So, any suggestions on seeds & dealing with the rocks? Thanks so much.

    • Mike says

      Merri,

      As far as the rocks are concerned all you can do is rake the lawn until it is flat and make sure there are no large stones that will interfere with a lawnmower. Grass seed in your climate? Your best bet is to go to a full service garden center, not a big box store, and ask them what they recommend. They’ll know what grasses do best in your climate. Unless I’m mistaken Flagstaff is probably around zone 6 and cool season grasses might work there. But not in Phoenix. Phoenix is way too hot for cool season grasses.

  19. Alan says

    Hi there,

    Great article. I recently over seeded my lawn which had some considerable bare patches. Ten days later ( and after a lot of summer attention) my grass has sprouted nicely and is already looking good. However there are some noticeable patches where I can see no growth at all. Is it too early to apply more seed to these areas or should I be patient and see what grows? Thanks for the great advice…

    • Mike says

      Alan,

      You can apply more seed but you should scratch the soil before you do so the seed stays where you put it. Then come September touch up any areas that still need attention. It’s a lot easier to grow grass in September than it is in July. Keep in mind, blue grass seed takes 28 days to germinate, but if you have no grass in those bare areas even the blue grass will struggle without other grass plants to give it some protection.

  20. Robert M says

    I live in Atlanta, Ga. and I want to re-seed my weed choked yard. What do I need to do to get started and when do I start the process? And what is best way to maintain my yard afterwards.

    • Mike says

      What I would do is to apply a weed and feed to kill all the broadleaf weeds, then just over seed with your desired seed mix. Of course September would have been the ideal time to start the process. In Atlanta you should be able to apply the weed & feed around April st or sooner. As soon as the grass starts growing put down the weed & weed. Do Not put down a pre emergent for crabgrass, it will stop the new grass seed from germinating.

  21. Marsha Nelson says

    Hi Mike,
    I am a master gardener in UT and I really enjoy your articles. Thanks for all the work you do.

  22. John Reed says

    Great article on buying and planting grass seed. I did just what you wrote in 1978, buying from a farm seed store and getting advice from the owner. Mid-priced grass seed with a “name” attached to it. Every year when I needed to do some repair, I could go back and buy the name, “Evergreen”. The repaired grass grew in to match the whole lawn. I am proud to say that after a few years, it was also “weed free”. I used pure nitrogen to “green” it, but you need to know that it is GOING TO RAIN! It was so green, you could spot my lawn hundreds of yards down the road. My neighbor payed a lawn service to do his at a waste of his money.

  23. Susan says

    Due to the amount of clay in my soil, water puddles every time it rains. This past winter caused a lot of grass to die. I have areas where the rainwater drains in huge rivulets down to the lowest point and becomes a pool. What kind of grass will survive in those rivulet and pool areas? Regrading won’t help, so I’m stuck with this water!

    • Randy says

      You’re not stuck with the water puddles Susan…..add alot of Gypsum to your soil and irrigate heavily for a week or 2. Gypsum will break up clay soils increasing drainage and creating a basic loamy soil good for growing new seed

  24. Randy says

    I really hate it when an article metions peat moss to cover new grass seed! Like really hate it! I am the garden pro at my Home Depot. I have been doing this a very long time.
    There are 2 distinct reasons we don’t cover new seed with peat moss. The first was mentioned here. Peat moss is one of the best natural water repellants there is. If you take a small mound of peat moss and put it on your lawn and hit it for 2 full minutes with your hose nozzel on the rain setting, and then push aside the top half, what;s left below will be bone dry! In the old days (long before my 59 years) farmers would take a pre-measured amount of peat moss and water and make a slurry by letting it sit until the water is absorbed, and then placing it on acid loving plants like blue berries.
    The second reason we don’t use peat moss is the acid I just mentioned. Peat moss is highly acidic. Here in the northeast and at the end of our winter, our lawns have a PH (potential hydrogen) of between 5.2 and 5.8. Because the PH scale is between 0 and 14 with 0 being very acidic and 14 being very alkaline, we are trying to raise that PH to anywhere between 6.4 and 7.0 (7 is neutral on the PH scale). Because the PH scale is a logarithm, every whole number is 10 time the number before or after it. That means that every time we go up or down one whole number it will be 10 times the previous number. That is a huge jump! OK….so we are trying to get the PH of our lawn soils up after the winter. This is why we add lime. So we want to raise the PH by adding lime. Not for nothing folks, but peat moss has a PH of around 4. Looking at the PH scale you will see that is extremely acidic! You all see the so called “landscapers” use peat moss telling you…”hey Mr. homeowner! I just did you a big davor by covering your new seed with peat moss so you won’t have to water do much! What he just did was add an acidic product that reverses the action of the lime you just paid good money for. What does lime do? Lime does nothing for the grass plants…per sey, but it makes the nutrients in fertilizers “available” to the grass plants. In our soils is a substance called Colloids. Colloids are what holds Jello together and are also present in milk fats, which is why spilled milk becomes jell like. These colloids trap the nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in fertilizers and keep them from the grass plants. Lime breaks the colloidial bond and releases those nutrients. Now just for the sake of mentioning it, when you purchase your spring lime, and unless you have a huge piece of property, do not use granular lime. This lime is pulverised dolomitic limestone and is actually incredibly tiny pieces of whole lime rocks. This lime works by water errosion and can take up to 2 years to travel 4 inches into your soil! I always suggest pelletized lime which resembles freeze dried coffee and reacts the same way to water. It disolves right away and begins working within a day or two, raising the PH quickly. Granular limestone is beneficial to golf courses and large pieces of propertry but the lime they put down now may well not work until next year or the year after. Go with the pelletized on your average 1000 sq ft lawn. By the way…the rule of thumb for lime is 40 lbs per 1000 sq ft of lawn. The actual formula is measure your lawns length by width. Multiply that number by 44 giving you the perfect amount of lime for any given area.
    If you want to cover your grass seed with the correct product, my store carries a very good top soil for $1.98 for a 40 pound bag. Seed only needs to be covered by a small amount of top soil, keeping it moist and keeping it from “seeing” the sun so the seed doesen’t germinate popping the hull of that seed and drying out and dying. New seed should be watered twice a day for 20 minutes per areas at 6am and again at around 4 pm. This will keep the soil from drying out.
    I agree with the mixture of seeds but I do not recomend Rye grasses. These are “feed” grasses and ar known as bunch or clump grasses. Bunch grasses grow out from a central point in the soil and growing up in the shape of an upside down umbrella. The only problem with thiese grass plants is that they leave open areas of soil below inviting weed seeds. I have and recomend Kentucky Blue Grass…especially if you have an underground sprinkler system and are good with the several feedings it requires over the course of the season. KBG is dense and won’t allow weed seeds a place to plant themselves.
    I hope this helps! I have an e-mail address where I have over 3500 of my customers on my list. Every week I send out e-mails telling my customers what they should be doing at any given moment according to weather, temperature and time of season. They can also ask questions and send photos of their lawns and gardens. I do this on my own time. I love giving my customers great lawns and gardens…..that is the reward for both of us!
    Randy

    • Mike says

      Randy,

      A 100% blue grass lawn is a recipe for disaster. If something comes along and attacks that bluegrass, all you have left is soil. That’s why we uses a blend of different grass seeds. The new varieties of perennial rye grasses are fine textured and durable and they germinate in 6 days or so. Kentucky blue takes 28 days to germinate. Weeds? 6 days or less. While you are waiting for the Kentucky blue to germinate you end up with a lawn full of weeds.

      I too have been doing this a long time. Years in the landscaping business. I guaranteed my work and back that guarantee up with my grocery money. I had to make it work. I learn what I needed to do to give customers a successful, beautiful lawn.

      Thanks for sharing your knowledge. I love it when knowledgeable people comment on these posts.

      • Randy says

        Mike…..I gotta tell you…I have all the respect in the world for you my friend! I did not think you would post my comments! Most who host web sites such as your, do not allow comments that disagree with them. Kudos to you sir!
        I have a masters degree in horticulture, and I too have been giving people incredible lawns for decades. Through my private e-mail address, I advise just under 9000 of my :friends” in 16 states. I NEVER, EVER recomend a 100% Kentucky Blue Grass lawn UNLESS they are guided by me personally. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a recipe for disaster to grow blue grass alone. It does require more attention. Even todays hybrid bunch grasses are still bunch grasses. This year alone, and as long as my friends have what I consider to be proper conditions, I have them grow pure blue grass lawns. Now as you are painfully aware, I’m sure, there will always be those that will decide to skip a step or decide something I suggest isn’t necessary and will have problems. I stay with those customers from beginning to end. The extra work gives them a lawn that requires little attention in the future and a dramatically reduced weed content due to the density of bluegrass. There have been many ocassions where I suggest a blend of grasses, but if conditions are correct, and I know that I have someone listening closely, it’s blue grass all the way. I receive over 300 e-mails a day from April To early November and have had only 14 people who were overcome with weeds. By the way Mike…..I don’t know how your wife feels about this, but I can’t tell you how many cold stares I get every night while hammering away answering these e-mails.LOL….. Keep it up Mike! Its a necessary service we provide!

        • Randy says

          By the way Mike…those 3500 customers are just my local area customers…..the other 5500 customers are from out of state. No easy trick keeping trach of weather conditions out of my area….but there is no better feeling,a s you know, when e-mails pour in telling you….well…what your customers tell you here!