Tips For Starting a New Lawn From Seed

You can either build you lawn from seeds or from sods. Some grass like buffalo grass and centipede grass comes sold as sods (small sprigs or plugs) which you can plant in your lawn.

It is best to grow you lawn from seeds though, it is cheaper and you have more control.

The timing is important,

Cool season grass: Start sowing towards mid fall or early spring.

Warm season grass: Start off sowing towards late spring which the climate is mildly hot

Before sowing you need to prepare you yard. Check out the article detailing the same.

How to buy the seeds?

Seeds are usually just sold in packets with labels mentioning the type and variety of the grass.

Usually you will encounter the below

Blends: The lawn seeds would be from a particular grass with various varieties included. For example fescue grass with varieties like duster, virtue and monarch.

Straight: Grass which does not have variety, mostly buffalo grass and st augstine grass are sold this way.

Mixture: A combination of different types of grass which grow well together. For example as seed packet may contain Kentucky grass with a blend of fescue.

Depending on your requirement you can go in for fine textured grass or coarse grass. If you would like to tread on your grass, make sure you pick up grass with is tolerant to foot traffic.

How much lawn seeds to sow?

The instructions to sow the seeds would be clearly mentioned in the label attached to the seed bag you purchase. You can also get some guidelines from the vendor.

Calculate the total dimension in square foot for your garden, the seeds would need to be sown depending on the total square footage.

For example Kentucky blue grass is usually sown in the ratio of 1 to 2 pounds per 1000 square feet.

The number of days that the grass would take to germinate is also mentioned in the label. For example, fescue grass would usually take close to 8-14 days to germinate.

How should I spread the lawn seeds around?

Hand spreading will not work out quite well with lawns. You would need the help of a tool. A couple of them are mentioned below

A cyclone spreader: A cheap tool which can be gotten at any gardening shop. You just need to fill it with grass seed and start walking around you garden length wise, which operating a handle to spray the seeds.

Rotary spreader: This is more suitable for large yards. It’s a bit expensive so you should consider hiring it or borrowing it for the job. It has a wheel operation which takes care of spraying the seeds so you just need to walk around your lawn length wise, at a steady pace.

When To Seed Your Lawn?

The right time to seed your lawn would depend upon the lawn grass you are planning on planting. For most grass types the best time is usually by the start of spring when the climate isn’t too cold and the soil isn’t moist.

Identifying lawn grass which can be grown in your garden

If you are starting your lawn from the scratch or you want to add more grass to your existing lawn, you need to be clear about the type of grass you want to grow.

If you already have a lawn and you want to add more grass, then it is important to get grass of the same variety as the one on your lawn.

A few tips finding out the type of grass on your lawn are as below

  • Take a sample of grass from your lawn, by scraping off a 2 inches area from your lawn, to the local cooperative extension society or the nearby nursery. People there would be able to help you identify the type of grass growing in your lawn.
  • You can check up with lawn-service company nearby, using a sample from your lawn.
  • If there is a master gardener in your community, you can take the sample to him for identification.

Deciding the on the type of grass

If you growing your lawn from the scratch, you have the independence of deciding upon the type of grass you want in your lawn.

The deciding factor is usually the climate. There are two types of grasses based on the climatic conditions in which they grow, they are

  • Cold season grass
  • Warm season grass

A description on each with examples is given below

Cold season grass

These varieties of grass grow well in regions where the summers are not too hot and winter is quite cold. So this grass is hardy to cold climates but cannot tolerate really hot summers.

If you are living more towards the north then it makes sense to go in for cold season grass.

A few examples for cool season grass with a little description on each is given below:

Kentucky blue grass:

A very popular variety, they have a dark blue-green texture and have fine cone shaped grass.

The grow up to 2 inches long.

They need a lot of water but they are disease resistant. They cannot tolerate heat much and they don’t like to a lot of treading.


A fine variety of grass which grows up to 1 inch in height mostly, the grass has bend at the top.

It has a green texture.

Keep this grass well mowed and it will give a good look. They need a lot of water though. This grass is in fact used in most golf courses.


This grass is fine texture and grows upto 2 inches in height.

It has a medium green texture and it grows like bristles.

If you like treading on your grass, then this is the one for you. It also requires less water and infrequent deep watering is good thing with this grass. Does not require a lot of sun either, and there are varieties which grow well in shade.

Warm season grass

As the name suggests this variety of grass is not tolerant towards cold climates. If your regions gets extremely cold during winter, then this is not the grass for you. Its good for mild climates where summers are hot and winters are mildly cold.

If you live along the southern parts or towards the gulf, you should go in for warm season grass.

A few examples of this variety are as below


Very tough grass with a coarse texture. It grows up to 2 inches in height.

Does not require a lot of water though infrequent deep soaking works good. They are drought tolerant to a good extent and you can indulge in a lot of treading. Should be mowed with a reel mower.


Fine textured grass with medium green color. They grow up to 1 to 2 inches in height.

Has drought tolerance and can be grown on sandy soil also. Grows quickly and covers your lawn fast. Requires frequent mowing with a reel mower.


Fine textured grass with light green color. Grows up to 2 to 3 inches in height.

Extremely drought tolerant and low maintenance grass. Can make do with couple of deep watering sessions in a whole month. It loves sun and is highly resistant to diseases and pest infections.

Centipede grass:

Fine to medium textured with a light green color. Grows up to 2 inches in height.

This grass can stand sun but is not very drought tolerant. Has shallow roots and require frequent watering. Resistant to pest and infections. Requires very little fertilizing and grows well in poor quality or acidic soil. It does not tolerate much treading and turns brown towards the onset of spring.

St Augustinegrass:

Coarse textured, broad grass with dark green color. Great for covering turfs with lush green grass. It grows up to 2 to 2.5 inches in height.

This grass is tolerant to drought, shade, acidic soil and heat. You can observe fast growth if you water it well and plenty. Not very tolerant to cold climates. Can get infected by pests due to its thick growth and does not grow well on soggy soil.

Simple lawn care tips for a great garden

If you are beginning a lawn from the scratch, you should carefully go through these time tested lawn care tips from experienced gardeners.

You might have a lawn already and are looking to spruce things up a bit, these tips would be helpful to do the same. You can just skip the beginning a lawn part.

Beginning with a lawn

It is important to prepare your yard to start off a lawn. This step is quite important to prevent the growth of weeds and other soil problems later. Here’s what you need to do

Clear your lawn

You need to get working to remove the following from your yard

  • Weeds (use a hoe and pluck them off their roots)
  • Dead grass (left over from an old lawn)
  • Rocks and solid materials of any kinds including iron, plastic and cloth debris

You need the use of good gardening tools to accomplish the above. Use of the below tools is helpful.

  • Hoes
  • Harrows
  • Spades
  • Forks

Leveling your lawn for a slope

It is important to slope the lawn away from your house. When there are heavy rains the waters will not percolate towards your house and it would keep your foundations from getting moist.

You can create a slope using leveling tools like rake and a shovel. It need not be perfect, any approximation would do.

If you find this job a bit tedious you can always hire a qualified help.

Check the water retaining capacity of your soil

Good soil would soak up water quickly and leave no puddles. Clay soil is compact and hence does not soak water, in the absence of a good drainage facility there will puddles everywhere.

Grass will not grow well on puddles and it is uncomfortable later for you when you walk on the grass.

Make sure your soil has good soaking capacity, else contact a hired help to mix more organic matter and other premium soil to make it more porous.

The location of your lawn

Decide upon the location prior to planting the seeds. You would need to make a plan for the dimensions of your lawn based on the flower beds, fruit trees and vegetables you plan to grow later.

Here are few tips to keep in mind

  • Allow plenty of sunshine for the lawn. Grass will not grow well in areas of shade.
  • Place the lawn so that the pathway does not go through it but around it.
  • It is difficult to manage very large lawn, so keep it simple. A lawn as big as your house or half your house size should be sufficient in most cases
  • It is important to decide upon the shape of the lawn also. If you prefer symmetrical lawns you might go in for a rectangular shape. If you like something casual you can try out a asymmetrical shape with a few oval edges.

Lawn is usually the focal point of most gardens and maintaining it requires some effort and care. Implementing these lawn care tips would go a long way in ensuring an attractive and lush lawn you will love to show off.

How to identify lawn problems and rectify them

Most lawn problems start with improper waters, irregular mowing and inadequate fertilizing. We address the right way to perform each of these critical activities.

Watering your lawn

The tell tale signs which point to a under water lawn are as below

  • Your lawn loses it green texture and turns a little gray or bluish.
  • Walking on the lawn leaves footmarks behind, showing that the grass is not bouncy enough
  • When you insert a sharp object into the soil, its goes in with difficulty and comes up dry.

Watering your lawn amply is important for healthy growth of the grass. Some grasses are drought tolerant whereas others are not.

The thumb rule to follow would be to water whenever you feel that the soil has gone dry. It’s always best to keep the soil damp. This is especially during the summers.

Here are few tips you should keep in mind while watering your lawn

  • Plug off all the weeds around your lawn as they have the tendency to drink in water meant for the grass.
  • Most grasses will be shallow rooted initially and require watering once every two days.
  • Don’t make the soil soggy with water.
  • Make sure the water gets soaked well
  • The best time to water would be in the morning or before noon. In the morning, soil is already wet from the dew and hence has the tendency to soak in water easily.
  • Allow the grass to stay at a 1 to 1.5 inch height at least. Shorter grass would dry off faster and require more watering.
  • Avoid watering during evening and night, that’s a sure call for diseases and pest infection.
  • Let the soil dry out before you water again. If your soil is rich it would have better water retaining capacity and would require less watering.
  • Follow the practice of watering slowly. You can use sprinklers if you want to avoid the pain of watering with a hose.

How to fertilize your lawn

Fertilizing your lawn ensure healthy growth and protects it from infections and environment stresses.

You would need to keep a few pointers in mind while watering your lawn

  • Don’t spread the fertilizer around without watering. You can apply the fertilizer after a session of watering or mix it with the water.
  • Your lawn needs nitrogen. The fertilizers most commonly employed for lawns are rich in nitrogen in the ratio of (22-3-7 of N-P-K). The reason why nitrogen is preferred is because it promotes healthy foliage.
  • Pure nitrogen fertilizers in the ration of (21-0-0 N-P-K) can also be employed.
  • Organic fertilizer works while you are preparing the lawn. Dig in a lot of compost and mix the soil well.
  • Once the grass takes roots however, you will need to depend on chemical fertilizers purely because you cannot dig in compost anymore.

The three varieties of fertilizers available include

Slow release fertilizers : Which release the nutrients slowly at a steady pace and require less frequent application.

Fast release fertilizers : Which release nutrients immediately, leading to an observable rapid growth.

Mixed : It is a combination of fast releasing and slow releasing fertilizers, giving you combined benefit.

Many gardeners mix manure in water and spray it across the lawn, this works as an organic fertilizer. It could get quite smelly so be careful if you are not experienced.

Never go overboard with the fertilizers. Follow the instructions provided in the label to the word.

Over fertilizing your lawn can lead to damage and you grass would start showing signs of a burn out.

How to mow your lawn?

There are several advantages to mowing your lawn regularly. A few are cited below

  • Mowing your lawn keeps the weeds at bay. Chopping of weed heads is the best way to prevent growth and spread of weeds.
  • Mowing will help make your lawn dense as the grass starts spreading more in reaction to your cutting its top off.

When should you mow your lawn?

If you are growing warm season grass it will grow more during the summer months and less during the winter and its vice versa with the cold season grass. So you would need to mow more during these months.

Water you grass a lot would lead to their quick growth, and hence more mowing. Keep watering to an adequate level.

Too much fertilizer again causes the grass to grow fast. So don’t go overboard with fertilizing.

Never mow wet grass. It will result in a mess.

Wet grass is not only difficult to mow but would get unevenly cut, no matter what kind of mower you are using. The damp clipping will get deposited in clusters and when they dry off they look ugly.

If the weather is hot don’t cut the grass too short. Long grass is more tolerant to heat.

So learn to adjust your mowing height as per the climate.

Keeping weeds at bay

Follow the tips mentioned below for a weed free lawn.

  • Mow your lawn regularly
  • Dont cut the grass too short as it will make it less heat resistant. It also promotes weed growth by allowing ample sun to the germinating weeds.
  • Keep your soil fertile, with the aid of organic and chemical fertilizers
  • Always pull of the weeds from their roots. Most weeds have a tendency to grow back if the roots are left in the soil.
  • Reduce or avoid the use of herbicides unless the weed infestation becomes uncontrolled. Regular mowing and hand pulling would sufficient for any modest sized garden.

Read the article on this site which deals with this topic in detail: Identify the common lawn weeds.

Following these guidelines would keep most of the major lawn problems at bay. A well maintained lawn looks attractive and becomes the focal point of your garden.