Establishing Grass

A healthy and lush lawn isn't difficult to establish but does require following a few key steps to ensure your grass takes root properly. Here are the methods that will give your seed the best possible chance of growing a lawn you can take pride in.

1. Prepare seed bed.

  • Have a minimum of 4-6 inches of good topsoil available.
  • Pick and remove all stones, sticks, and other large debris.
  • Work soil to remove any dirt clumps.

2. Spread Fertilizer.

  • A starter fertilizer with an appropriate amount of phosphorous is key to early grass root development. Blends like Spring Valley's Prevail 12-12-08 deliver this and other nutrients to give the grass sprouts the boost they need to get started. Apply starter fertilizers at a rate of 4-8 pounds per 1,0000 sq. ft.

3. Spread Seed.

  • Select the appropriate seed blend for the site you are applying. 
  • Look for seeds specifically blended for sunny, shade, or mixed sun and shade locations. 
  • Selecting the appropriate cultivar for your location will go a long way towards the long term success of your lawn. Once selected evenly spread the seed at the rate recommended for the specific variety you have chosen.

4. Lightly rake.

  • Lightly rake in the seed and fertilizer. 
  • The seed should end up in the top 1/4" of the soil. 
    • If any less than this, the seed is prone to drying out in the sun once sprouted, as well as birds and other wildlife eating the seed before it takes root. 
    • Too deep and the seed will germinate but run out of energy before it can break the soil surface and begin to produce food via photosynthesis.

5. Spread mulch.

  • Mulch in the form of straw, straw mats, tree mulch, or specifically designed seed starter mulches help to absorb moisture so that the young grass has water consistently available. 
  • It can also aid in soil erosion and keeping the grass seed from being washed away before the roots take hold.

6. Water, water, water!

  • After seeding, water frequently but lightly (roughly 10-20 minutes). This could be 2 to 3 times per day depending on how hot and dry the weather is. Continue this frequent watering for 10 days to 2 weeks.
  • After 10 days to 2 weeks, water 1 to 2 times per day, 30-45 minutes each time. (Bluegrass will begin to germinate after about 2 weeks of watering).
  • After 3-4 weeks, reduce frequency of watering, but increase the length of time the sprinkler is on. After 2-3 months you should be watering 1-2 times per week, applying 1 inches of water per week.

7. Fertilize as normal.

  • After 3 to 5 weeks your lawn should be ready to jump into your normally scheduled fertilizer plan.

Watering tips:

  • The soil must be continually moist, but not saturated, during the germination process. 
  • On a regular schedule, try to continually irrigate by misting to reduce soil erosion.
  • For best results, water after every fertilizer application.

Mowing tips:

  • Wait until the grass is at least four inches tall until the first mowing. 
  • After that, always using sharp blades, slowly reduce the grass height to 3 inches. Removing more than one third of the leaf blade during a single mowing shocks the turf and reduces root growth.