Have the Greenest Lawn on the Block

My Garden Life
January 17, 2014
Table of Contents
 

It’s easy to seed a new lawn, thicken an existing lawn, or patch bare spots if you know the right steps to follow. Learn how to turn your grassy spaces into the greenest lawn on the block!

Seeding a New Lawn or Reseeding an Existing Lawn

The steps to seeding a new lawn or reseeding an existing lawn are very similar. Once your lawn is established, one of the surest ways to maintain a thick healthy lawn is to reseed at least once a year.

1. If you’re reseeding an existing lawn, mow the lawn cutting it at least one notch lower than usual. You don’t need to scalp it, but you should cut it low enough that sunlight can reach the soil surface.

2. After cutting the lawn, remove debris such as sticks, leaves, or thatch. A leaf rake will get most of the debris. If you have a thick layer of thatch on your existing lawn, use a steel garden rake, a special thatch rake, or a power dethatcher.

A garden rake clearing debris from the soil in preparation for seeding grass.

3. As part of preparing the soil, add a soil amendment like lime or gypsum if needed. The easiest way to determine if you need to add a soil amendment is to conduct a simple soil test. There are low-cost soil test kits available. These kits can help determine the levels of nutrients and pH in your soil within minutes, telling you exactly what might need to be added to your soil for best results.

4. Next, you’ll need to plant your seed. If you have a really small lawn, you can broadcast the seed by hand or you can opt for a handheld broadcast spreader. For larger lawns, use a broadcast spreader, which will enable you to cover a lot of ground in as little time as possible.

Close up of a hand sprinkling grass seed over bare soil.

5. After filling the hopper of the broadcast spreader with seed, check the label on the seed package for the proper setting for your spreader and adjust the settings to make sure you are applying the seed at the recommended rate. The application rate for seeding a new lawn is twice that of the application rate for reseeding an established lawn.

The goal in seeding or reseeding is to get even coverage. The best way to do that is to work back and forth in one direction; say north and south, then again working east & west. Make sure you don’t get any seed where you don’t want it, such as flower beds or vegetable gardens. To be safe, consider hand broadcasting the seed near these areas.

6. Once you’ve spread your seed evenly, you can apply a starter fertilizer using a spreader. This will encourage the greenest lawn right from the start. Rake gently to work in the seed and fertilizer. Do not apply a pre-emergent herbicide such as crabgrass preventer or combination weed and feed products until the grass has been established and has been mowed at least 3 to 4 times because pre-emergents will prevent your grass seed from germinating.

Fertilizer helps grow the greenest lawn. Overhead view of a hand pushing a drop spreader filled with fertilizer.

7. The most important thing to ensure success at this point is to water your lawn. Keep the seed and the top half inch or so of soil moist until the grass seed germinates. To achieve this, water your lawn every day for at least a week or two, unless it rains, until your grass is 3 inches tall. After your new grass is established, water one to two times a week for a total of 1″ of water each week.

A lawn sprinkler watering an area newly seeded with grass seed.

That’s it! You’re done! Now sit back, relax and enjoy your new yard!

Patch & Repair Bare Spots in Your Lawn

If a bare spot appears in your yard, don’t worry. You can make the bare spot disappear in just a few simple steps!

1. Using a steel garden rake, loosen the soil in the bare spot so the seed doesn’t wash right off the soil surface when you water or when it rains.

Close up of a bare spot in a lawn.

2. After you’ve prepared the soil, spread the seed. The best way to do this on a small patch is to broadcast the seed with your hands. Make sure to spread the seed, mulch, and fertilizer mixture 1/8″ thick. 

3. Just like seeding a new lawn or reseeding an existing lawn, the most important consideration after spreading your seed is watering. Keep the seed and the top half inch or so of soil moist until the grass seed germinates. To achieve this, water every day for at least a week or two, unless it rains, until your grass is 3 inches tall. After your new grass is established, water one to two times a week for a total of 1″ of water per week.

Woman watering newly seeded bare patches in her lawn.

One way to be water-smart is to look for a grass seed blend tailored to your growing region as well as your lawn and light conditions. Pennington® Smart Seed® offers premium-grade grass seed blends that, once your lawn is established, may require up to 30% less water year after year versus ordinary grass seed.

Watering is Important for Maintaining the Greenest Lawn

Proper watering is essential for maintaining a healthy lawn and it’s just as important for your other landscape plants. Learn more about different Ways to Water Your Garden flowers, vegetables, and shrubs for efficiency and getting moisture to the areas of the plant that need it most.

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