Apart from warmth you need three things when seeding a lawn:
- Good seed to soil contact
- Even distribution of seed
- Constant moisture
Good Soil Contact
Start by raking the surface to open it up ready for seeding. A good soil like Gro-Turf Top Dress is a dark, rich soil formulated that has been designed for optimum root growth.
Next put on the seed and then gently drag the rake over the surface to start mixing the seed with the soil. Finally, use a light roller; perhaps a half filled water roller or your lawn mower roller and roll the lawn in two directions.
You can broadcast seed by hand or with your fertilizer spreader. A shutter one third to one half open should do nicely. Professionals will split the seed into two lots and seed in one direction with one lot and reverse the direction for the second lot. This ensures an even distribution. Before you begin remove any spare seed you ordered and take a bit extra out as well. When seeding a lawn it is best to be careful at the edges as you don’t want to waste seed on the patio or driveway and conversely you don’t want to grow grass in the flower beds. By keeping a bit extra back you can do a final hand spread carefully on the last 30cm of lawn up to the edges. If you haven’t already done so now is the time to add a fertilizer.
Now all you have to do is stop the area from drying out. This means light watering with a very fine spray, twice a day if possible for the first two weeks. Large droplets or heavy watering will move or puddle the seed destroying the even distribution. The second two weeks should be once a day or every other day. If things start drying out increase the frequency. In month two you can water more heavily and less frequently; perhaps twice a week will do. Finally, water once a week in month three and keep watering if things get dry. New grass is prone to drying in the first six months. Being able to do your seeding in wetter spring or autumn months helps but if you can supply the water then summer seeding can be extremely successful.
Depending on the seed used and the temperature you should start to see some green shoots within 10 to 14 days. When the grass hits 5cm (21/2”) you can start mowing your new lawn. Make sure the grass is dry and the mower freshly sharpened. Go slowly for the first few times you mow to ensure the grass is cut as cleanly as possible. Mow on the highest setting possible so that no more than 2cm or ¾” is removed. In addition, the grass will be quite tender so make big slow or 3 point turns. Once the grass gets its fourth cut you can start bringing the mowing height down over the next 4 to 5 cuts to the desired height for that time of year. If this height is going to be less than ¾” or 2cm then ensure adequate moisture is available otherwise stay at or above 2cm for the first 6 months.
Different seed establishes at different rates with rye grass being the fastest at about 8 weeks. This means you can start using it then but keep the use light for at least another month or two. Other grasses may take 10 to 12 weeks and will take slightly longer to bring into full normal use.
Quite often you’ll find a crop of weeds coming up with your lovely new grass. Many will not survive your first few mowings but some will and need to be controlled. You can dig or even pull individual weeds out quite easily but do press down on the surrounding soil to prevent grass plants coming up as well. Treating the lawn with a weed killer may well be required but not all weed killers are suitable for new lawns so it is recommended to read the label for safe use.
Feeding and Lawn Care
Start a normal seasonal feeding regime after about 3 months remembering that the lawn is still young and tender so ensure optimal ground moisture conditions. You should not use liquid fertilizer or ferrous sulphate until the lawn is 6 months old and you shouldn’t be doing any aerating in the first year. A full lawn maintenance programme can and should be done in the second year.