How do I select and plant the right type of grass seed?


Jennifer Brennan provides tips on selecting the right seed for your lawn and how to plant it for best results.


A lot of people are confused about grass seed. There are so many different types of grass seed out there on the shelf to understand, and what’s important is to understand what conditions your lawn has. Whether it is sunny or shady, whether it is high traffic and/or what variety of grass you are currently using. So if you currently have bluegrass, you would want to look for a bluegrass seed mix, or if you have mostly perennial rye, you would want to look for that type of a mix. The healthiest lawns have a combination of bluegrass, perennial rye, and fescues. Now the bluegrass gives you that sun loving thick green look. The perennial rye grass is actually good for the high traffic and then the fescue is also good for high traffic as well as shady areas. So when you have a combination, you have a healthy mix to give you a healthier lawn. If you do get a disease that comes in, it won’t wipe your whole lawn out.So, when you are looking at your lawn, look to see if you got these bare spaces, look to see if it’s just thin or if you just want to add seed. So this is a sunny spot in the lawn right here, so I have chosen this sunny mix, so you will look at the seed. This is actually a great mix that has a coating of clay of the seeds which helps hold the moisture around it. When you are using it, you can either spread it like this over the bare areas and you want to make sure you only put it as thick as the diameter of the seed itself. So you are going to spread it over those areas. A lot of people ask what do I need to cover it with to protect it from birds. You don’t need to use anything very heavy. My favorite is just to use a garden mix; it’s just a potting mix. Just cover it lightly, again only as deep as the seed itself. This will help hold the moisture around the seed and protect it from any birds that might try to get it. There are other things you can also use, like a pelletized straw mix that you can put down. The nice thing about going with a commercial produced straw mix is that there are no weed seeds in it that will add weeds to your lawn.You also want to consider over seeding your existing lawn. Now over seeding is putting seed in a broadcast spreader and spreading it over a lawn that is relatively healthy or might be a little thin, but it is just a good thing to introduce new seed once a year to give that infusion of disease resistant variety so you get a healthier lawn. Now when you do that, you want to make sure that you water it heavily to make sure you force those seeds down into the soil in between the existing grass blades. Don’t worry about covering it like you did the bare spots, but just water it so those seeds get down into the soil. Now if you are applying new seeds and it is an existing lawn, just use standard fertilizer. Don’t worry about using starter fertilizer. It has a high percentage of phosphorous, which is good for the new seed, but not very good for the existing lawn. If you have bare areas, then a starter fertilizer is a wise thing to use. Again look at the thickness of the lawn or the bare areas, and that is how you decide how much starter fertilizer you want to use, but it’s very important to use that fertilizer because that is what is going to give you those building blocks to help those grass plants get well established. The make or break for success of seeding a lawn keeping it evenly moist from the minute it touches the soil. I once had instructor in college that always said that the success with seeding is that you have to have intimate contact of the seed with the soil. So make sure you are in contact with soil and then keep it evenly moist. Now that means being prepared to water it every day lightly for the first two weeks. It takes 10 to 14 days for bluegrass seed to germinate and it takes 7 to 10 days fescues and rye grasses to germinate. So it is very important that you keep that cell evenly moist until the seeds germinate. Now you also want to keep it evenly moist for two weeks afterwards while the roots get established. Then after that follow the basic rule for watering the lawn which means one inch a week when temperatures are 75 degrees or lower, when temperatures go above 75 degrees, for every 10 degrees above the 75 degree mark, you want to add another ½ inch of water, so if it is 85 degrees, you want to make sure you are getting an 1 ½ of rain per week or you are going to water that heavily.Now you are looking at different sprinklers that we have right here. This is actually a pulsating sprinkler. This the most efficient for water use. You only get 15% evaporation if you use a pulsating sprinkler. If you use an oscillating sprinkler, which is the one right in front of this, that’s the one where the water goes overhead back and forth and back forth, you can lose as much as 30% from evaporation, so a lot people if they are in water restrictive areas, will want to use the most efficient, You can also hand water, but make sure you use a head on the end of the sprinkler that has an adjustable nozzle. You want to use a shower effect so that lightly shower the moisture into the soil, you don’t want to flood it away. You don’t want to wash the seed away, so always make sure that you have it on the shower settings on one of these. It is the most efficient and the easiest to use.So again, look at the different varieties of grass seed. You have either the perennial mixes or the perennial rye mixes, the perennial shade mixes, high traffic mixes or the full sun mixes. Choose the correct seed apply it at the right time and water it well, and you will have a great healthy new lawn.


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