First, Prepare the Soil
1. Remove Weeds
When sowing new grass seed, it’s important to remove all weeds, rocks and other debris prior to planting. Attempting to eradicate weeds – especially noxious varieties such as quackgrass, Canada thistle, or field bindweed (morning glory) – will be much more difficult and frustrating once your lawn is established.
TIP: Spray weeds when they’ve reached 6 inches in height or width with Hi-Yield Killzall Concentrate Weed & Grass Killer (use as directed). After spraying, wait at least 7 days before planting seed. If the weed infestation is severe, you may consider rototilling the soil and waiting two weeks for regrowth. At this point, spray again.
2. AMEND SOIL
A lush, healthy lawn starts with good soil. Enhance your soil by adding composted organic matter; a material lacking in most native Intermountain West soils. Composted organic matter adds much-needed nutrients, improves compacted clay soils and increases water retention in sandy soils.
TIP: Spread Oakdell Organic Compost or Nutri-Mulch 1-2 inches thick over the entire planting area. Avoid using barnyard manure as it may be contaminated with noxious weed seeds. Once spread, till the composted area 5 to 6 inches deep, preferably with a rear-tine tiller. Use a landscape rake to level and grade the soil gradually away from the house. Water the bare soil for 20 minutes to settle the soil to expose any low spots. Fill in any discovered low spots and re-rake to ensure it’s level.
3. STIMULATE GROWTH
When the area is graded and level, apply a seed starter fertilizer to help stimulate new seedling growth and development.
TIP: Apply IFA Premium Garden Fertilizer or IFA Grand Champion All Purpose Fertilizer (Follow the “New Lawns, Pre-Plant” directions on the back of the bag.). Both fertilizers are high in phosphate and will encourage rapid root development. Also consider adding IFA Bountiful Earth Humate to enrich the soil even further and aid seed germination.
Next, PLANT YOUR LAWN
When the soil is level and fully prepared, you’re ready to start planting.
Your lawn can be planted any time from early April (or earlier if temperatures permit) through late September. However, the very best time to seed a lawn is between mid-August and mid-September. While spring is the next best period to plant, excellent results can occur anytime all summer by observing careful watering practices.
Follow these six steps and begin enjoying your lush, healthy lawn in no time.
1. Sow The Seed
After choosing the right seed for your new lawn, spread it over the soil using either a drop or broadcast spreader. For extra even coverage, spread half of the seed in one direction and the other half in another direction criss-cross to your original path. The seeds may also be sown by using a sweeping hand motion.
2. ROLL FOR GOOD SEED TO SOIL CONTACT
After seeding, fill a lawn roller half way with water and roll it over the entire seeded area. Roll the perimeter first and finish in the middle. Pressing the seeds into the soil ensures excellent seed to soil contact. It helps increase germination rates and, in general, adds to your chance for a successful planting.
3. TOP DRESS
After rolling the seed, apply (approximately) 1/8″ layer of Kellogg Topper, peat moss or compost over the seeded area using a compost spreader. A top-dressing covers the seed, holding moisture for proper germination and protecting the seed from birds.
Maybe the most important step, it’s time to carefully water the planting area. On the first watering, apply enough water to wet the soil down to 6 inches or until it begins to puddle. You don’t want to wash the seed away.
You may need to water several times in short intervals until the bed is thoroughly wet. In the coming days, watch the color of the soil surface. As the soil dries, the surface becomes lighter in color. When you notice about half to two-thirds of the surface is lightening up, it’s about time to water again. Continue to water lightly, and frequently until the seed germinates. Remember, don’t over do it or under do it. Seeds only have one shot at germination. Let them rot or dry out, and they’re dead.
5. Protect the seedbed
Try to keep dogs, kids, your own feet, and anything else off your very wet, newly seeded lawn. Try surrounding the area with brightly colored string tied to stakes, or fencing material attached to metal t-posts.
6. Care for your Lawn
Depending on the temperature and seed variety, germination can start as early as 5 days, but may take as long as 15-30 days. After your grass has germinated, start backing off on the watering frequency and gradually increase the watering amount each time.
As your lawn grows, water ½” to 1″ every three days during hot weather. Sandy soils will need more frequent watering, while clay types will require less.
Apply IFA Step 3 Spring & Summer Fertilizer 30 days after most of the seed has germinated. Young seedlings have a hefty appetite. IFA Step 3 will keep the lawn from “stalling” and its slow-release nitrogen will feed its growth for weeks to come.
When the grass has reached a height of 3 to 4 inches, it’s time to mow and let the kids run free. After the first mowing, trim your lawn between 1½ to 3 inches (depending on the variety of grass). Avoid applying any weed killers to your new lawn until after the third mowing.
Follow these steps and you’ll have a beautiful lawn to enjoy for years to come.
If you’re planning to seed your new lawn, the decision on seed variety is important. A great lawn can only be grown from great grass seeds and IFA selects the best performing cool-season turf varieties for the Intermountain West.
Information for this article was provided by Ken Holt, Lawn & Garden Category Manager, IFA Country Store; and Kent Mickelsen, Utah Certified Nurseryman, IFA Country Store
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