Guide to Planting Grass Seed

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Timing:

The best time for seeding a new lawn is in the spring or early fall. The ground temp needs to be between 50° and 65°, which happens when we get consistent 60-75° daytime temperatures.

Preparing the soil:

Rake or till to loosen the soil surface. Fill any holes with fresh top soil. For the grass to germinate and survive there must be good seed to soil contact.

The importance of soil pH:

In New England, we typically have acidic soil. The soil pH is important because seedlings struggle and fertilizer loses potency in an acidic or alkaline. Ideal soil pH is 6.5-7.0, considered neutral. A quick soil pH test will tell you where your soil is on the scale. Most lawns require an application of lime to get from acidic to neutral. Your local Agriventures Agway offers 2 types of lawn lime. Pelletized lime, offered in a 40 lb bag, covers 1,000 sq ft per bag and is a slow release. We also offer Fast Acting Lime, in a 30 lb bag, that covers 5,000 sq ft per bag and is quick release.

Choosing your seed:

Based on the are you are seeding, choose the right seed for the job. Does your lawn get a lot of shade? Mostly sun? High traffic from kids an pets? On a hill? Refer to the quick reference guide on which seed grows best where.

Spreading your seed:
Using a drop or broadcast spreader is the best tool for even grass seed (and fertilizer and lime) distribution. Follow the spreader settings on the back of the product you are applying, keep even steps, and follow a clear pattern. Once the seed is down, lightly rake the soil to cover the seed, no greater than ¼”.

Feed your seed:

A starter fertilizer should be applied at the time of seeding. Starter fertilizer, like our Agway Greenlawn Lawn Starter, helps to nourish the roots of the new seedlings and promote strong development. Our Agway Greenlawn Lawn Starter feeds up to 12 weeks and contains Green Smart which helps lawns retain water to protect against heat & drought and speeds root growth to improve nutrient absorption. If you are looking for a more natural option, Espoma Organic Lawn Food is safe for new seeding.

Protect your seed:
Its is important to cover the new seedlings to protect them from heavy rain, birds and wind. Recommended covering products are chopped straw (Mainly Mulch) or traditional straw. Some also recommend using peat moss, burlap or cheesecloth. The chopped straw product is particularly ideal because once its down you don’t have to do much else to it besides watering. No raking (like with traditional straw) or pulling up the burlap or cheesecloth. Using hay is discouraged because it has weed seeds in it that will germinate in your lawn. Ideally keep pets and people from walking on the new seedling until its up and established.

Watering:

New seedlings need regular watering to grow. It is recommended to water your seeded area 2-3 times a day, keeping the soil moist all day long. A heavy drenching can cause the seedling to drown or even mold. After the grass begins to emerge, 1-2 longer watering sessions per day is suggested.

Grass is up, now what?
When your new lawn reaches a height of 3-3 ½ “, you are ready to mow. Keep the mower deck higher, cutting the blades to about 2-2 ½” Never mow when the grass is wet, it can damage the immature blades.

Wait 12 weeks before applying another fertilizer. Then you can use whatever fertilizer you choose.

Supply Checklist:

  • Rake
  • Gloves
  • Top Soil
  • Grass Seed
  • Soil test kit
  • Lime (if needed)
  • Starter fertilizer
  • Spreader
  • Chopped straw/covering
  • Hose
  • Sprinkler
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Shovel