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This guideline on how to start a new lawn from seed is created for new lawns and landscaping projects or where the old lawn has been removed with a sod cutter.
The soil must first be broken up by using a rotar tiller, disk, plow, or other method. The ideal seedbed is made up of soil particles from sand to half marble size. A soil like this will provide good places for the seeds to germinate. Don't work the soil down too fine into dust. It can make the soil surface crusty after watering which makes it hard for the next watering to penetrate.
Top soil that is brought in often contains large amounts of weed seeds. So if it's possible, it's usually best to work with the soil you already have. Perform a few soil tests to see what amendments to add to improve the soil for the right lawn conditions.
After tilling and removing any large clods and rocks, the area should be leveled. This can usually be done with a garden rake and other simple garden tools.
Seed and fertilize the same day. The grass seed can be spread using either a drop or broadcast spreader. Follow the setting indicated on the seed package. I prefer a broadcast spreader as the drop spreaders sometimes clog up with seed. While it doesn’t matter which you apply first, it is important to fertilize the same day you seed in order to get the seedlings off to a strong fast start.
Cover seed and mulch if necessary. To cover the seeds, simply drag a leaf rake upside down or any light object over the area so that you cover the seed with no more than ¼ inch of soil. To help prevent runoff on slope or hillside landscaping areas or to retain moisture between waterings, the area can be lightly mulched with straw. Only a small amount is needed so that the seed is still visible through the mulch.
Watering is critical. Keep the seedbed constantly moist durring germination. Use short frequent waterings rather than long deep watering. Only the top inch of soil needs to be kept moist. A timer on a hose and sprinkler or a sprinkler system will help accomplish this. Once germination starts, keep the area moist until the sprouts are well established.
Begin mowing as soon as the seeds are about 1½ inches tall. Mow when soil surface is dry. Mowing when it is wet will damage the young grass plants. If existing weed seeds in the soil start to grow, do not use any weed killer until the young grass lawn has been mowed four times.
As soon as the new lawn is established, keep it on an annual program for best results.