What should you not do when planting grass seed?


The key things to avoid when planting grass seed are: overwatering, improper soil preparation, using the wrong type of seed, seeding at the wrong time of year, not using starter fertilizer, inadequate weed control, and improper mowing after germination. Careful planning and proper technique when planting grass seed can help ensure a lush, healthy lawn.

When is the best time to plant grass seed?

The ideal time to plant grass seed varies by hardiness zone and grass species, but is usually early to mid fall or early to mid spring. The best times are when daytime high temperatures are 60-75°F and nighttime lows are around 50°F for cool season grasses like fescue and bluegrass. Avoid seeding in summer or winter extremes.

How much water does new grass seed need?

It’s important not to overwater grass seed, as too much moisture can cause issues like seed rot and washout. Aim to keep the top 1-2 inches of soil moist until germination, which usually takes 7-14 days. Light, frequent watering 2-3 times a day is best. Reduce frequency after germination but avoid under-watering.

What kind of soil preparation is needed before planting grass seed?

Proper soil preparation is vital for seeding success. Eliminate existing vegetation completely. Till the soil 4-6 inches deep to loosen compaction. Remove any rocks, sticks and debris. Rake smooth and grade the area to improve drainage. Just before seeding, rake to a depth of 1/4 inch to create a seedbed.

Should starter fertilizer be used when planting grass seed?

Applying starter fertilizer when planting grass seed helps encourage stronger root growth and faster establishment. Look for products designed for new seedings. Use half the recommended rate at seeding time and the other half about 6 weeks later. Don’t skip this important step.

What’s the best way to prevent weeds when seeding a new lawn?

Weed control is crucial when establishing a new lawn from seed. Herbicides can be used on the existing vegetation before planting the seed. After the grass sprouts, carefully hand pull any weeds. Mow new grass tall to discourage weed growth. Overseeding can help choke out weeds.

How do you choose the right type of grass seed?

Select a grass seed variety suited to your climate and conditions. Cool season grasses like fescue and bluegrass thrive in northern zones, while bermuda and zoysia are better for southern lawns. Also consider sun exposure, soil type and activity level on the lawn. A grass seed mix can provide uniform coverage.

What mowing height should be used on newly seeded lawns?

Mow a newly seeded lawn at the highest recommended height once it reaches 3-4 inches tall. This prevents removing too much growth at once. Gradually reduce mowing height over time to the normal range. Avoid mowing when the ground is wet to prevent damaging the new grass plants.

Planting grass seed is not difficult, but does require attention to detail in order to avoid common mistakes. Overwatering is one of the biggest errors when starting a new lawn from seed. While moisture is needed for germination, overwatering can cause issues like seed rot, seed washout and shallow root development. Make sure sprinklers are working properly and aim for light, frequent watering in the 1-2 inch range rather than heavy, infrequent watering.

Taking time to prepare the soil thoroughly before seeding is also extremely important. Eliminate any existing vegetation completely through sod removal or using herbicide. Till the soil to a depth of 4-6 inches to break up compaction and create room for roots to establish. Remove any rocks, sticks and debris. Rake smooth to grade the lawn area and improve drainage. Creating a final seedbed around 1/4 inch deep gives grass seeds the proper environment to germinate and sprout successfully.

Many homeowners make the mistake of not using starter fertilizer when planting new grass seed. Starter fertilizer contains a higher concentration of phosphorus, which aids in root system development during the critical early stages. Applying starter fertilizer at half rate when seeding and again at 4-6 weeks encourages faster establishment. This step should never be skipped when starting a lawn from seed.

Weed control is another common pitfall when seeding a new lawn. Removing existing vegetation before planting is the first step. Once grass seed germinates, young grass plants are vulnerable to being overtaken by weed growth. Hand pull weeds carefully to avoid disturbing new grass roots. Allow new grass to grow slightly taller to shade out competing weeds. Overseeding can also help fill in bare spots and prevent weed encroachment. Using pre-emergent herbicides labeled for new seedings can also help suppress weed development.

Choosing the right type of grass seed suited to your climate and conditions is key. Cool season grass varieties like fescues and bluegrasses thrive in northern zones, while warm season types like bermudagrass work better in southern lawns. Consider factors like sun exposure, soil type and activity level when selecting seed. An appropriate seed mix can provide uniform coverage and improve lawn density.

Being careful when mowing a newly seeded lawn is crucial. Allow the new grass to grow to a height of 3-4 inches before mowing for the first time. Use the highest recommended mowing height setting to avoid removing too much growth at once. Gradually reduce to the normal range over subsequent mowings. Avoid mowing on wet ground to prevent tire ruts or damage to young grass plants. Proper mowing height and technique will help ensure a thick, healthy lawn.

When is the best time to fertilize a new lawn?

Fertilizing a newly seeded lawn at the right times is key. Apply starter fertilizer when first planting the seed, then again around 6 weeks after germination. After the grass is established, begin a regular fertilizer schedule based on the product directions, usually every 6-8 weeks in the growing season. Avoid fertilizing in hot summer months.

What causes bare spots in a newly seeded lawn?

Bare spots can occur in a new lawn for several reasons: inadequate seed coverage during planting, heavy rain washing away seeds, birds eating uncovered seeds, poor contact between seed and soil, disease, insects, or improper watering. Overseeding bare areas and maintaining optimal growing conditions can help fill in bald spots.

When should you first mow a newly seeded lawn?

Wait until the new grass reaches a height of 3-4 inches before mowing for the first time. This allows for adequate leaf growth to support the grass plants. Cutting too early or too short can damage or kill young grass. Set mower blades high for the first few mowings, then gradually reduce height.

How do you prevent erosion when planting grass seed on a slope?

On sloped areas, avoid sending soil runoff and washing out grass seed by using erosion control products like slope stabilizing mats, blankets or nets. Cover seeded slopes with loose straw mulch. Include quick growing annual ryegrass in the seed mix. Divert runoff water at the top of slopes.

Should you water newly planted grass seed before or after rains?

Avoid watering seeded areas immediately before or after rainfall. Instead, monitor soil moisture and water lightly if the top 1-2 inches become dry. Too much overall moisture can lead to issues like seed rot and seed washing. Light, frequent watering is best to keep seeds consistently moist.

What causes grass seed to wash away after planting?

Heavy rain or over-watering after seeding can cause grass seeds to wash away, especially on sloped areas. Use erosion control products when seeding banks to prevent runoff. Cover seeded areas lightly with straw. Press seeds into the soil before watering for better contact. Check sprinklers to prevent oversaturation of seeded spots.

Can you plant grass seed in the summer heat?

It is risky to plant cool season grass varieties like fescue and bluegrass during hot summer months. The heat quickly dries out the soil, making it hard to keep seeds consistently moist for germination. It also causes stress on young grass. Warm season grasses like bermuda can be planted in summer with extra care to prevent drying out.

Is it okay to water newly planted grass seed at night?

It’s best to avoid overnight watering of newly seeded areas. Extended moisture can lead to issues like disease and fungus on young grass plants. Watering is ideally done early in the morning so grass blades can dry out during the day. Afternoon or evening watering in extreme heat can be done if grass dries completely before nightfall.

What are the signs that new grass seed is dying?

Indications that newly seeded grass is struggling or dying include poor or spotty germination, yellow or brown coloring, wilting, thinning, bare patches, failure to root properly and establish, and weed overgrowth. Taking steps to improve growing conditions or reseeding affected areas can help revive the new lawn.

Can you put straw on top of grass seed?

Lightly covering newly planted grass seed with clean straw at a rate of 1-2 bales per 1000 sq ft can help retain soil moisture and protect seeds from being washed away or eaten by birds. Straw also helps insulate tender new growth. Avoid using hay, which can contain weed seeds. Rake back excess straw as grass sprouts.

How often should you mow a new lawn?

For the first month after seed germination, a new lawn should be mowed about once a week. This frequent mowing prevents cutting off too much height at once. After the lawn is established, mowing frequency can be reduced to every 5-7 days, or as needed based on growth rate and desired height. Proper mowing promotes thick turf.

What is the best way to deal with weeds in a new lawn?

Weeds must be controlled early when establishing a new lawn to prevent takeover. Hand pull visible weeds, being careful not to disturb new grass roots. Overseed thin areas aggressively. Mow new grass tall to shade out weeds. Apply corn gluten as an organic pre-emergent in early spring and fall. Target stubborn weeds with post-emergent herbicides labeled for new seedings if needed.

Should you rake newly seeded lawn areas?

Avoid aggressive raking of newly seeded lawns which can disturb the tender grass plants. Lightly rake to work in starter fertilizer when seeding or to cover grass seeds with a thin layer of soil. Once sprouted, carefully rake out any leftover straw. Then let the new grass grow undisturbed while the roots establish themselves.

How do you keep birds from eating grass seed?

To deter birds from eating newly planted grass seed, lightly cover seeded areas with straw which makes it harder to access the seed. Use bird netting or noise deterrents like aluminum pie pans hung on poles. Planting mix with filler seeds birds dislike, like perennial ryegrass, can also help protect good seeds.

Can you overseed an existing lawn?

Overseeding by adding new grass seed to established lawns is an effective way to thicken up thin or bare areas. The best times are early fall for cool season grass and late spring for warm season grass. Mow low, dethatch if needed, then rake seed into bare areas before watering gently daily. Existing grass may look worse before improving.

How long does newly planted grass need to be watered?

New grass seed needs consistent moisture for proper germination and establishment, which takes about 4-6 weeks. Water lightly 2-3 times per day to keep the top 1-2 inches of soil moist but not saturated. Gradually reduce watering frequency as grass matures but don’t allow drying out. Monitor moisture levels regularly when watering new seed.

What is the disadvantage of using inferior quality grass seed?

Cheaper, inferior grass seed is often prone to issues like low germination rates, poor genetic purity, weed content and insufficient vigor. This can lead to patchy establishment, bald spots, thinning over time, increased maintenance and weed problems. It’s best to invest in quality seed of improved varieties suitable for your area and conditions.

Can you use a lawn mower on newly planted grass?

It’s fine to use a lawn mower on a newly seeded lawn once the grass plants are well established, typically after 4-6 mowings. Set the blades high initially and gradually lower over time. Use a lightweight mower and bag clippings to prevent smothering young grass. Avoid mowing on wet ground or turning on newly seeded spots.

What are the tips for planting grass seed in shady areas?

When planting grass in shade, choose a shade-tolerant seed mixture containing fine fescues or ryegrasses. Reduce thatch buildup to aid growth. Overseed bare patches. Apply a high-phosphorus starter fertilizer to encourage rooting. Maintain proper soil moisture and aerate compacted areas. Increase mowing height in shaded regions.

How do you prepare a lawn for overseeding?

To ready a lawn for overseeding, mow short and remove debris. Dethatch if thatch exceeds 1/2 inch. Apply starter fertilizer per product instructions. Check soil pH and amend if needed. Spread seed using a drop spreader and rake lightly into thin areas. Water gently 2-3 times daily until established.


Achieving a thick, lush lawn from seed requires careful planning and proper seeding techniques. Avoid common mistakes like overwatering, poor soil preparation, using inferior seed, and inadequate weed control. Pay close attention to timing, seed selection, starter fertilizer use, erosion control, and mowing height. With the right approach, even novice homeowners can grow beautiful grass from seed. Patience and diligent care for new grass plants is also essential. Following best practices will lead to successful seeding results.

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