Top reasons why reseeding fails

#4- Seeding too heavy- Most people put down grass seed way too heavy.   More is better, right?  Not with seeding.  When seeding too heavily, you get lots of small grass plants too close together without enough space for their roots to grow.  As a result, most of the plants die, and you are left with very thin grass.   Study the label on your grass seed bag for instructions on how to properly apply the grass seed. The picture above shows the correct density of seed when reseeding.

#3- Lack of sunlight- Many times, people are reseeding because their lawns are thin in the shady areas.  As trees grow taller and thicker, the Kentucky Bluegrass under these trees starts to die as it won’t grow in dark conditions.  If you don’t improve the sunlight, the new grass won’t survive.  Trimming or removing trees may be necessary to grow grass.  Take a step back and assess whether trying to plant grass is the best option for your space.   Would a mulch bed with shady-loving plants be better for this area?

#2- Poor Soil Preparation- Seeding is all about preparation.  Simply broadcasting seed over your lawn is worthless.  Grass seed needs to be touching bare, loose dirt to grow.  There are two different options for preparing your soil for seed.   The first option is to use a hard-tined rake to rake the top inch of soil.  The second option is to add a thin layer of dirt.  We like to do both; rake the top inch of soil and add a thin layer of dirt.  Doing both options will give the roots of your new grass the best chance to grow.

#1- Not watering enough- For grass seed to grow, it needs to stay moist for 21 days in a row.  That usually means watering at least twice a day.  If you have an underground sprinkler system, we recommend setting your sprinkler system to come on four times a day for 4-6 minutes per zone.  You want the seeded area to stay moist, but you don’t want water to puddle.  At 10 days, ryegrass and fescue will start to germinate, but don’t stop watering!  If you stop watering at 10 days, the Kentucky Bluegrass won’t grow, and it is the most desirable variety of grass.  It doesn’t start to germinate until 21 days.

Grass seed needs three things to germinate:  It needs to be touching bare loose dirt, it needs sunlight and water.  If all 3 of these elements are present, you will win at seeding.   But if you are missing any one of these, your seeding will fail.  

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Preparing Your Lawn for Winter

As summer winds down, here are a few suggestions for your lawn and landscape.

First, if you didn’t receive grub control this season and see evidence of creatures digging in your lawn, you may have raccoons or skunks feeding on grubs. Grubs can be a serious problem for your lawn and can still be controlled this time of the year. Let us know, we can help.

Second, if you need one final mowing for the season, go ahead and move down your mowing height on your lawn mower. Dropping your height 1/2″ will result in a healthier, greener lawn next spring with less chance of disease.

Third, if you still have to do a final leaf cleanup, it is ok to recycle leaves back into your lawn. Click here for more information.

Fourth, fall is a good time to inspect trees and shrubs in your landscape and plan for some preventative maintenance to minimize problems that can occur over the winter. To read more, click on this link.

 

Seeding Your Lawn

Successful lawn establishment means doing the right thing at the right time.  New seed fails because of timing, poor quality seed, improper seed selection, poor soil conditions, improper site preparation, or improper water and fertilizing.

Timing is Everything

The best time of the year to seed is from August 15 to September 15.  The warm days and cool night are ideal for seed germination.  Spring is the second best time to seed, but could result in crabgrass and excessive weeds.

Seed Selection

Most retailers offer grass seed that is clearly marked as “sunny” or “shady” mixes.  Shady mixes have mostly fescue and rye grass which are better for low light areas.  For a sunny mix, look for one with at least 70% Kentucky Bluegrass.

Site Preparation

Lawn-tools-Image

In order to grow grass from seed, the grass seed needs to be touching bare, loose dirt.  Most seeding fails because the seed is not in contact with the soil.  This may require raking with a firm rake and/or spreading some fresh topsoil.

Mulch

If using straw, spread one to two bales of straw per 1000 square feet.  Spread it so that 1/3 to 1/2 of the soil is visible.  If seeding in the fall, the straw should be left on over the winter.  If you do not use straw or mulch, rake in the seed lightly: the teeth of your rake should just lightly touch the soil.  Too much pressure will cover the seeds too deep.  Cover the seed so that 10 percent of them are still visible.

 

Watering

SprinklerSprinkle frequently enough to keep the soil moist, but also avoid puddling.  This will require watering several times a day for the first couple of weeks.

Mowing

Mow as soon as the grass blades exceed 3 inches in height.  Keep traffic off the new lawn until the new turf has filled in enough that you cannot see the soil.  Expect some weeds to come up along with your new grass.

Fertilizer and Weed Control

Let us know about any seeding in your lawn and we will make the necessary adjustments to your program for optimal growth.