There are many advantages to maintaining a thick, healthy lawn: increased property value, reduced erosion problems, less weed pressure, and safe recreation are just a few. Harsh extremes of temperature and precipitation levels in the midwest, however, can take their toll on the health and vigor of your turf. Filling in patches of your lawn with fresh new grass seed is often necessary to sustain healthy grass growth. Whether you’re just filling in small patches or reseeding large areas, here are some tips to ensure success in growing a beautiful, healthy green lawn.
1. Timing is important!
The best time of year to sow grass seed is from mid-August to late September. During this season, there are several factors which contribute to optimal seed growth:
Cool night temperatures and warm soils encourage rapid seedling growth
Fall months are typically a time of increased rainfall, which means less irrigation work to keep your seeds and young grass plants moist
Weeds transitioning to their dormant state in the fall will offer little competition for light, moisture, and nutrients
2. Choose the Correct Type of Grass Seed
The best option for buying grass seed is to choose a blend of several different varieties. Cool season grasses, such as Kentucky Bluegrass, Tall Fescue, Fine Fescue, and Perennial Ryegrass, grow well in the midwest climate and are often available together in mixed grass seed blends. Choosing a blend over a single variety will increase your lawn’s resistance to diseases and pests. In general, grass seed performs best in full sun conditions. Some varieties (such as red fescue) are more shade tolerant than others. When seeding in a shady area, use a seed mix dominated by red fescue and sow in the Spring before tree leaves emerge and block the sunlight. Village Green’s Famous Manhattan Velvet Blend is available in 3 different premium mixes - perfect for lawns with any amount of sunlight exposure:
3. Soil Preparation
Till your soil to a depth of 3-4 inches; be sure to break up any large clumps and remove rocks. Add a starter fertilizer with high nitrogen content and work it into the soil. This will give young grass seedlings the kickstart they need for strong root and shoot development.
4. Application Rate
Bluegrass and fine fescue should be sown at a rate of 3 lbs/1000 sq ft. Ryegrass and tall fescue does best when sown at a rate of 5-6 lbs/1000 sq ft. Avoid the temptation to overseed. Crowded seedlings are more prone to root rot and disease. Though the recommended rate of seed coverage may appear sparse, with time and proper attention, your seedlings will fill in to form a thick turf cover.
5. Post Seeding Care
Maintaining proper conditions for germination and growth is critical during this stage. Grass seedlings are fragile and require specific care considerations:
Keep traffic off the newly seeded area
Keep the top ½ inch of soil moist at all times until 2 weeks after the seeds germinate
Do not puddle or float seeds
In areas with less irrigation or steep slopes, cover your seeds with a light layer of straw to retain moisture and keep the seeds and soil in place
Adjust your irrigation schedule for changes in humidity, temperature, and wind
Avoid mowing until you can safely cut off ⅓ of the height of each blade without harming the new grass (wait until the grass reaches about 4 inches in height)
Mowing prematurely will place considerable stress on young grass, rendering it vulnerable to disease and insect damage
Be sure to feed hungry turf! A second application of fertilizer may be required later in the fall.