Taking care of grass when it is new is key to ensuring that it grows into a beautiful lawn. Great care, planning, and some work will have to be given to ensure the young and fragile grass survives for the first few weeks. However, before you can go ahead and start planting seedlings or laying out sod, there are a few factors you will need to take into consideration.
Before Planting Your New Lawn
For the best results, planning starts before you do any planting. It is vital to choose the right type of turf, and in which way it will be laid in your yard.
The Type Of Lawn
Begin by considering the type of lawn grass you want for your yard. Base your decision on whether the lawn will endure heavy foot traffic such as kids and pets playing, for sports events, or is it just to increase the aesthetic value of your home landscape.
Once you have keyed in these factors, you can proceed to do some research on the types of grass that suit your yard best. Choose a type of grass that will endure well in the climatic conditions of your area and still fit your purpose. In most cases, the most suitable grass for your area will be available in local nurseries.
The area you live in plays a vital part in this decision. Grass types that grow well in the north east of the U.S., are not going to be the best choice if you live in south Florida for example. Find out which lawn grass is best for your region first.
If you’re having a tough time choosing the best one, ask for labels and brochures that provide in-depth information on the various types of grass seeds. You can also consult a grass seed expert.
Prepare And Level The Soil
An ideal place to plant a lawn is an area that has a gentle slope. It should also not be too close to any structures that could endure damage due to stagnant water and high levels of moisture. The slope can be artificially created by shifting soil.
Ensure that it slopes for about one foot every one hundred feet. If the slope is naturally occurring, you can change it up to make it look even. If you need to bring in some more soil, ensure it is the same as the soil that is already there. Make sure that it is mixed properly before any planting can be done.
If you are going to input an underground sprinkler, ensure you have ample time to install the whole system to cover the entire lawn evenly. The best option is to have a certified landscape agency handle the installation for you. This should be done after the leveling of the ground has already been completed.
Decide Between Grass Seed And Sod
When seeding, you will have to buy the grass seed and spread them around evenly. Sod, on the other hand, comes with already planted seedlings in pieces of turf. The greatest advantage of going with seeds is the economic value. Grass seeds are relatively inexpensive and provide a wider choice variety than sod.
However, seed requires more care than sod in the first few weeks. They need to be watered multiple times daily in hot conditions, since they tend to dry fast. Sod only requires watering once a day, which is comfortable for most people to handle. Sod shows results much faster than seeding since you do not have to start growing the grass from scratch. Noticing growth fast is a great morale booster.
Keep in mind though, even if your lawn looks green after laying sod, it is not ready to walk on it yet. The grass plugs need time to root into the soil. It is advisable to keep walking on your new lawn to a minimum for the first two weeks.
Caring For A New Lawn
Whether you opt for seed or sod, the first few weeks are going to be vital to the health of your new lawn. Even though sod lawns look finished after laying down the sods, they still need to be handled with care for the first few weeks. Seeded lawns obviously need a bit more time, and can’t be walked on for about 6 weeks minimum.
Seeding mostly applies to cool season grasses. Those for warm seasons start with plugs or sprigs. The best time to plant seeds is during the fall to provide the plants enough time to grow before the cool climate really kicks in.
Another great time is the spring season when the harsh winter conditions have already passed, and the extreme temperatures of summer are yet to kick in. Avoid seeding a new lawn in the heat of summer.
When preparing the soil for cultivation, avoid making it too fine since it may crust and make it hard for the growing seedlings to get to the surface. Make use of a garden rake to ensure the ground is well leveled.
Check the weather forecast and go for a day with no wind to plant your seeds. Whichever planting method you decide to use, whether dropping by hand or using a rotary spreader, ensure the seeds are evenly spread out.
Also, ensure the soil has adequate and appropriate fertilizer to help provide the necessary nutrients for new plant growth. Consult an expert on the best type of fertilizer for the seeds you decide to use.
Carefully cover the seeds using a leaf rake. You can mulch the ground if the climatic conditions are harsh. However, use a soft organic material such as dead leaves as opposed to sawdust, which may form a hard layer on the ground preventing the seedling from breaking through the soil.
If you decide to go for sod, ensure that the turfs are delivered in a vehicle that is eco-friendly and weather protected. Such vehicles keep the grass as fresh and healthy as possible.
To achieve the best results for your lawn, the sods should be laid out immediately they are delivered. All one has to do is use a wheelbarrow to transport them to the desired location, unroll each piece, and lay them out.
However, if for some reason the sod cannot be laid out immediately, still go ahead and unroll them. They can be placed in small stacks. Ensure you water them well to keep the seedlings moisturized. Never water the turfs while still rolled, as they could make the condition of the grass bad.
Whichever type you decide to start with, regular watering will be required. For the seeds, they should be kept moist at all times for the first three weeks. They tend to dry pretty fast, which may cause withering.
The watering session should last about five to ten minutes and should be done a couple of times a day. As for the sods, on the other hand, watering them once or twice a day will be enough to keep them moist.
Be smart about it. The best time to water the lawn will be in the early morning. This way the new grass can take full advantage of the provided moisture all day long. The combination of sunshine and moisture will make your new lawn grow beautifully very quick.
Do not water at dusk. Unfortunately lots of people still believe this is the best time to water the lawn. They argue that the sun will not evaporate the water during the night, leaving the lawn moist longer. However, leaving the lawn too wet overnight will result in fungi growing in your new lawn and causing all sorts of issues.
If you have decided to go with sod, then after nine days to two weeks, you can go ahead and mow the sod lawn for the first time. Do not mow to short! If you want a great looking lawn, start getting into the habit of mowing tall.
If you have a seeded lawn, it will be ready for mowing in about three to five weeks, depending on the area you live in and the weather conditions. Do not cut more than three inches off the blades. Once you start mowing, be on the lookout for any signs of stress and stunted growth due to the shock of mowing.
Keep up this practice for about six weeks, until the lawn is well set up and comfortable in the environment. If you notice any weeds growing among the grass, do not take any action until you have mowed it for the fourth time.
In most cases, the weeds usually die from being mowed and crowded out by the grass. If they do not, opt for a herbicide, rather than pulling them out, which will disturb the roots of the grass.
Be on the lookout for insects in your new lawn. They can harm your new lawn by creating nests and laying eggs, as well as being a general nuisance around the house. Get some organic insect killer if you need it. Your pets and kids will be thankful.
That’s it. It’s not that hard. Mother nature does most of the heavy lifting for you. You just have to help her out a little. Go ahead and enjoy the summer on your new lawn!