The Ultimate Guide To Planting Your Own Grass And Types Of Grass
You have just purchased your first home and you couldn’t be happier with the plot of land that you can now call your very own. Everything is perfect, except for the fact that the lawn is practically dirt without a single blade of grass in sight.
It’s not uncommon for first time homeowners to start from scratch with their lawn and start planting new grass seeds. And if you do it correctly, you can have a lush and beautiful lawn filled with brilliant green grass in no time.
Should You Plant Your Own Grass Seed Or Hire A Professional?
Planting grass seed may seem like a fool-proof task, but in reality, it is possible to seed your lawn incorrectly. Either that or some homeowners simply don’t have time to do the job all on their own, especially after they have just moved into a new home.
There is a lot that goes into the process of seeding your lawn that goes far beyond simply buying grass seed and spreading it out on your land. To complete the job successfully, you will need to Test the pH levels, amend the soil, add in sand and compost, and remove any old lawn, clumps or rocks. All this takes place before you even add the grass seed to your lawn.
With so many steps involved, hiring a professional may be the obvious choice for many homeowners.But there is the cost of having your lawn seeded by a professional to consider.According to HomeAdvisor.com,the average cost of seeding a commonly sized yard (without labor added in) is:
These costs will vary from one location to the next and from one contractor to another, but it is a good estimate of what you can expect if you choose to hire a professional to take on the grass seeding job for you.
Do-It-Yourself Seeding For Your Lawn
If you plan on seeding your lawn all on your own, there are a few things that you should keep in mind before you get started on the task. Planting grass seed is a big job regardless of what size yard you have. You will want to work on the worst areas first and then move on to the less-visible areas of your lawn.
You can start with small sections to help keep the job simple. But even if you choose to plant your entire lawn at once, you should follow these 6 essential steps for planting grass seed.
1. Remove Your Old Turf
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The first thing you need to do before planting new grass in your lawn is eliminate any turf that is poor quality. There are several different ways you can do this. You may remove your old turf by a process known as solarization, by using heavy mulches, or by using a sod cutter along with herbicides.
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Some methods of removing bad turf may be more effective than other. The type of turf you have, and your area’s climate can also affect the process. But no matter what process you choose, your old turf needs to be removed first.
2. Correct Any Grade Issues
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Before you begin working on the soil, you will need to correct any grade issues you may have.Grading your lawn will usually require the assistance of a professional contractor who has access to heavy equipment that can move large piles of dirt from one location to another. But, you can get a head start on the process by correcting minor issues yourself using a shovel or landscaping rake.
3. Amend Your Soil
This is one of the most important steps in seeding your lawn. Now that you have all the bad turf removed and your lawn graded exactly how you want it, you have the perfect chance to amend your soil. You can add fertilizer, lime, organic matter or sulfur to create the ideal environment for growing lush and beautiful grass.
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The best way to find out what amendments your soil needs is to test it. You can send a sample of your soil to the Cooperative Extension Service (CSREES) in your area. They can let you know exactly what your soil needs to ensure that your grass and plants thrive.
4. Rake The Area
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Using a landscaping rake, you will need to rake the area until it is nice and smooth for planting grass. You should remove any stones that are in the soil as well as any weeds that have been raised to the surface during this process.
Next, you will need to water the ground and double check for puddles. Give your soil plenty of time to dry and then fill in any depressions with additional soil to create even ground.
Water the area again to create a depth of 5” to 6” two days before planting your new lawn.
5. Decide How To Plant Your Lawn
Your next step is to plant your new lawn. You will need to decide which method you want to use,either sod, sprigs, plugs, or grass seed. Each of these four methods will require a different preparation. And they are all installed differently. More information about the four different lawn planting methods can be found in the section below.
6. Maintain Your New Lawn
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Now it is time to maintain your new lawn. You will want to think about the watering needs of your lawn before you even start the planting process. If you have too little or too much water, your new lawn will not grow like you want it. Be sure to take precautions to prevent damage after so much hard work. Be sure to minimize foot traffic on your new lawn for at least three weeks.
Remember that you shouldn’t fertilize your new lawn for at least six weeks after planting. After that, you can apply a light layer of 1/2 lb. nitrogen fertilizer per 1,000 square feet.
The Four Lawn Planting Methods
There are four lawn planting methods for growing grass, they are seed, sprigs, plugs ad sod.
- Grows new grass thicker and quicker
- Accelerates root growth of new grass plants and existing lawn
- Improves lawn's ability to absorb water & nutrients
Add starter fertilizer to the prepared soil. Spread the seed at the raterecommended on the packaging. The rates are typically in pounds per 1,000 square feet. Seed coverage should be 15 to 20 seeds per square inch. You should make a few trial passes using a spreader and make the necessary adjustments until there are seven or eight seeds for every square inch. In two passes,spread the seeds in one direction, and then perpendicular to guarantee even coverage on your lawn. Rake the surface lightly to mix the grass seed with atop 1/8-inch of soil.
You can plant sprigs using two different methods, by hand or by broadcast or stolonizing them.
If you choose to plant your grass sprigs by hand, you can place them in shallow furrows that are between 1 to 2 inches deep and at least 6 to 12 inches apart. Plant the sprig send to end in intervals 4 to 6 inches apart the cover them with soil. Make sure that a small portion of the sprig is always exposed to the light. Then, lightly roll the planted area to help press the planted sprigs down into the soil.
If you decide to broadcast or stolonize the sprigs, you can do so over the prepared soil at 5 to 10 bushes per 1,000 square feet. Afterwards, cover them with 1/2-inch of soil and roll to press the sprigs into the soil.
- 50 Plugs per tray (covers 50 square feet) (2" x 2" Plugs)
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Planting plugs is a fairly easy method for seeding your lawn. They can be planted in furrows that are 6 to 12 inches apart in each direction based on the type of grass you are planting. Slower spreading grass will need to be planted 6 inches apart while those that spread faster should be 12 inches apart.
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You can buyplugs that are all ready to be planted or you can make your own using unwanted turf. To make the job easier, you can dig the individual holes with a bulb planter. A golf-greencup cutter is another useful tool that you can use to cut circular holes for the plugs.
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Sod is one of the most common ways to seed your lawn, and it is also one of the more complex methods. To start, you will want to apply a starter fertilizer to your lawn that is very high in phosphorus. Go with a 1:1:1 or a 2:1:1 ratio for best results. Then, once you have fertilized the soil, lightly water it.
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The sod should be placed in a shady area until it is ready to lay on the soil. Sod can turn bad fast so if you don’t plan to work on your lawn right away, unroll it and make sure it stays moist. As soon as it is delivered to you, check your sod for any damage such as yellowish or bluish color, tears, disease, insects or weeds.Don’t use any bad sod on your new lawn.
When you are ready to lay the sod, start by preparing the soil using a roller roller that is 1/3 full of water. The rolled soil should be compacted so that your footprint is just 1/2" deep. Then lightly water the area and try not to walk on it.
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Use a sharp knife to cut the sod and lay it down one section at a time. Lay full strips of sod along the edges of your lawn first. Starting off with straight rows will help prevent the need to cut and size your sod as much later on. If possible, make the last row of sod a full width strip.
After you have laid down several strips, spray the sod with enough water so that it is completely soaked and has about 1” of water standing.
It’s essential that you have full strips at the perimeter, these are the strips that will be likely to dry out more so than all others, and that will happen even faster if the strips are narrow or irregular.
If you are installing sod strips on a hill or slope, you will need to start at the lowest point and work your way up. Stake each piece of sod to prevent them from slipping.
After you have installed the sod, you can ensure that it stays firm by rolling it with a roller once again that is 1/3 full of water. Afterward, water the new sod so that it is thoroughly soaked and restrict foot traffic for the next 4 to 5days.
What Type Of Grass Should You Plant?
There are many different types of grass that you can plant for your new lawn. But the typ ethat you plant will depend on what part of the country you are in. Your climate will greatly determine how well your new lawn thrives and if you want to be satisfied with all your hard work, then you will need to choose the best grass for your area.
The United States is broken up into six zones when it comes to grass types and other plants. Inside each zone, certain grass species do better than others. You can find out which zone you are located in by checking out the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map.
Zone 1- Tall Fescue (Festuca Arundinacea)
Zone 1 is the North East region of the US that goes all the way down into the South through Tennessee. Tall Fescue is a perennial that grows best during the cool seasons.This grass species is from Europe and its deep roots allow it to survive frequent traffic or drought.
It is best to plant TallFescue in early fall such as September. The newest varieties of this grass include Tarheel II and Rebel IV which are improved to resist certain types of fungi. Alternatives to this species include Kentucky Bluegrass and Fine-Leaf Fescue.
Zone 2 – Zoysia Grass (Zoysia Spp.)
Zone 2 is the South East part of the U.S. Zoysia grass is the best species for this area because it can tolerate dryness and heat, however, it will go brown at the first sign of colder temperatures. This Asian import grass grows slowly and can also tolerate shade,disease and insects well.
It should be planted in early Spring around April. The newest varieties of this grass such as Zenith, Compadre and Meyer are all designed to withstand the winter season better. Alternatives to this species include Tall Fescue and Bermuda Grass.
Zone 3 – St. Augustine Grass (Stenotaphrum Secundatum)
Zone 3 is in the lowest South East part of the U.S, mostly in the state of Florida and some parts of Alabama and Georgia. These coastal areas require grass that can withstandthe heat all through the year.
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St. Augustine grass is a plug or sod grown species that works well in sandy soil and sunny areas. However, it is sensitive to heavy foot traffic and some insects. It’s best to plant this grass in April. The newest varieties such as Mercedes and Delmar are meant to be winter hardy and tolerate shady areas. Alternatives to this species include Bahia grass and Seashore paspalum.
Zone 4 – Bermuda Grass (Cynodon Spp.)
Zone 4 is located in South West part of the country including Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and parts of California. Bermuda grass originates from Africa and does very well in full sun. It spreads fast and requires lots of fertilizer to thrive.
You should plant it in early spring in April. The newer varieties of this grass such Patriot and Yukon are designed to withstand cooler weather. Alternatives to this grass include Buffalo grass and Tall Fescue.
Zone 5 – Buffalo Grass (Buchloe Dactyloides)
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- Buffalo grass requires a very low amount of water
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Zone 5 is located in the mid-north area of the country in parts of Kansas, Nebraska, North and South Dakota. This grass is an American native and doesn’t require much water or fertilizer.
It should be planted in either April or May. The newest varieties of Buffalo grass include Density and Texoka which both have excellent turf.Alternatives to this species include Kentucky Bluegrass and Tall Fescue.
Zone 6 – Kentucky Bluegrass – (Poa Pratensis)
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Zone 6 is located in the North West part of the country and includes states such as Washington,Idaho and Montana. Kentucky Bluegrass is recommended for this area because it recovers well from cold weather and drought. It is commonly planted as sod and seeds can take up to 30 days before they sprout.
This species should be planted in September. Newer varieties include Nu Destiny and Blue Velvet that work well in the shade. Alternatives to this grass species include Tall Fescue and Fine-leaf.
Is Sowing Your Own Grass Seed The Best Option For You?
If you are still undecided on whether you should sow your own grass seed or hire a professional for the job, remember that the only reason why you should hire a contractor is if you don’t have time to complete the task on your own.
Seeding your lawn isn’t a very difficult task and you can save hundreds of dollars by doing it yourself. Just remember to water it accordingly based on the method of planting you use and choose the best grass species for your local area.