Choose a blend of grass seed with a certified seed label that best suits your location and the micro-climates found on your particular lawn. A blend of grass types is important to mask natural deficiencies that occur during the growing season. For instance, blue grass is usually dormant, or brown, longer in the spring than perennial rye. One variety of rye grass may be bred to be genetically more heat tolerant than another variety that demonstrates better fungus resistance and so on. In general, use blue and perennial rye grass mixes in sunny areas. Use perennial rye or perennial rye and fine fescue grass mixes for shade areas. In shade areas that receive four hours or less of sunlight per day find an alternative ground cover to grass.
Seeding during the correct season is crucial for best results and sometimes any results at all. In New England, fall seeding is by far the best. If you have a lawn seeding project in mind execute it in the fall. Shaded areas may need to be over seeded every spring. In lawn areas of heavy shade, a spring over seeding should last until July or August before it gradually slips away. You will not need to apply a crabgrass pre-emergent in the shade so it is as if nature intended us to add grass seed to the shaded areas of our lawn each spring.
Carefully study the seed label before purchasing. A seed label should list the name of seed and variety. Percent weed seed contained in the mix, inert matter, and germination percent figures should be listed. Other crop seed percentages as well as noxious weed seeds in the mix will also be listed on the label of a reputable seed supplier. Use only certified seed. This is a U.S. government standard. If it's not certified, and the label doesn't contain the above items, walk away no matter how promising the sales pitch or beautiful the picture on the box. You may pay more for the good stuff but it's well worth the investment. You will need five to ten pounds of seed per thousand square feet of area you plan to seed.
Renovate a tired, established lawn by first mowing short and applying Roundup according to manufacturer's instructions. This will eliminate varieties of grasses that do not match those you hope to establish. Uniformity is the primary objective in a lawn. We seek uniformity in mechanical aspects such as mowing as well as genetic propensities like color, texture, and growth habits. Millions of nearly identical plants, growing on a level soil surface, all cut at the same height might pass as one definition for lawn.
Use a core-aerator to loosen the soil. Make several passes to bring plenty of soil to the surface. Remove any dead organic material. The remaining dead turf will act as mulch for the germinating seedlings, moderating moisture and temperature.
Seed to soil contact is the ultimate goal when seeding. Seed to soil contact allows the magic of seed germination to happen. Use a seeder that will plant the grass seeds 1/4 inch into the soil. I personally use a seeder that drops the seed out front and then spinning blades drive it into the soil. This creates rows of grass during initial germination. With the mechanical seeder plant half of the seed in one direction then the other half of the seed in the opposite direction. You may choose to do the entire operation by using the core-aerator to punch the seed into the soil. When using the core-aerator to seed make half of your holes first. Sow your grass seed, and make several more passes with the aerator to punch the seed into the soil.
To start a new lawn on bare soil, level and till or core-aerate the soil to a depth of 2 to 3 inches. Apply a starter fertilizer according to label directions. I still prefer to use my mechanical seeder on bare soil as opposed to sowing and raking because I can control the depth of planting with the seeder. As above, apply half of the recommended seed amount in one direction and the remaining seed at a right angle . Roll the newly seeded area. Pressing the seed into the soil, and insuring seed to soil contact, will speed and maximize germination.
Keep the seeded area moist with frequent, gentle, watering. Sufficient moisture is a must. Be patient. Some types of seed will germinate in 7 days and others, such as blue grass will not germinate for 28 days.
You will not need to mow the lawn until it is three inches tall. When the first of the new grass reaches three inches in height, resume regular mowing. One pass per week with the lawn mower will not harm the new grass. After about three mowings, the lawn can be considered hardened off enough to begin chemical weed control.
The average size healthy lawn cleans the air and produces enough oxygen for two families of four. When the temperature of pavement hits 100 degrees F, the temperature on turf grass areas is about 75 degrees F, cooling the environment. Turf grass reduces noise by absorbing, deflecting, and refracting sound. Turf grass holds topsoil in place, cleans rain water, and cleans the air we breath.