Planting a Lawn
Whether you’ve just moved in to a brand new house with a barren, dusty yard or have lived with a less-than-satisfactory lawn for years, now’s the perfect time to plant anew. The task may seem daunting, but seeding is easier than you ever imagined, and the least expensive option to provide you with the lush, even lawn you’ve always dreamed of.
First things first: have your yard soil tested for acidity and fertility. If the pH levels are below 7, you’ll need to add lime to your soil as well as a nitrogen-based fertilizer. Consult with the experts at your hardware store or the local Cooperative Extension Service office to find out the optimal grasses for your local conditions.
If you live in most regions of the United States (that is, anywhere but the South), you’ll want to seed cool-season grasses in late summer or early fall, that's now here in Massachusetts, when upper soil mean temperatures are 68 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. This will allow your new turf to establish roots before the dormant winter period begins, while plant growth is vigorous and competition from weeds is at its lowest.
Renting a slice seeder at your local hardware or rental center will help push the small grass seeds into the "sliced earth" created by the machine. You will want to do two passes at half the seeding rate labeled on the bag. First in one direction and then at a 90 degree angle to help evenly distribute the seeds. The slice seeder is important because the seed gets pressed into the earth and covered by dirt, thus helping keep it moist through the germination process, and from being washed away by water. Once a seed dries up after being wet, the chances of it germinating drastically decrease.
You will then want to use a rotary spreader to apply a starter fertilizer at the bag indicated rate and heavily water the seed and fertilizer into the earth.
Keep your recently planted seeds damp for 7-10 days or until they germinate, and then give the lawn a heavy watering and let it be for the seed bag's suggested duration. This will help the newly germinated seeds reach down with their roots to establish a strong and deep roots before the winter begins.
The next step before the winter will be one of the most important applications of fertilizer you can do all year, and that is a "winterizer". Please check your local lawn and garden store for the proper timing for this application, but it better be before it freezes out!
When spring rolls around, get yourself on a Scotts or similar maintenance plan that will deliver weed protection and fertilizer for those strong lawns. You can also opt for the greener and safer approach of organic, which may take longer to establish a plush lawn, but may give you a greater sense of doing your part for the earth.