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Lawn Establishment and Renovation

4 min read | Dec 13, 2012 | Plants  Resources 

Is your lawn the ugly duckling of the neighborhood? Perhaps sporting a bare patch here, a bare patch there, along with a few patches of weeds and grass in between. Unfortunately, this problem is all too common, especially in newer neighborhoods with lawns that have been sodded without an irrigation system. They look great a first, but later homeowners find themselves with an unappealing lawn and the urge to start over with their blank lawn canvas. Here in the Raleigh area, we have several grass options to choose from, including both warm and cool season grasses. To learn a little more about preparing your soil for lawn care success, resulting in a plush, thick green lawn, read more…

Warm Season Grasses and Cool Season Grasses for the Greater-Raleigh Area

Cool Season Grasses: Fescue, Bluegrass, Ryegrass
Cool Season Grasses are best reseeded in the fall or spring. They require lower temperatures for the seeds to germinate.

Warm Season Grasses: Bermudagrass, Zoysia,St. Augustine, Centipede

Establishing a New Lawn (Warm and Cool Season Grasses)
To establish a new lawn, kill all the vegetation in the area with a non-selective herbicide like Round Up; this is best done one to two weeks before seeding. In our area, the best time to start seeding Cool Season Grasses is usually around mid-September, once the temperatures have dropped. Warm Season Grasses are best seeded, sodded or plugged starting in late May throughout the summer months. For the best results, determine which type of seed is best for your lawn by noting how much sun and shade your lawn receives throughout the day.

Soil Preparation
In order to prepare the soil, tilling or running a slicing machine or slit seeder over the area is best. Aerating at the time of seeding is okay, but isn’t the most ideal way to prepare for seeding. It is also a good idea to have a soil sample done at this time to determine if lime is needed. Note: As a good rule of thumb, you should perform a soil sample once every year or two to check the pH and nutrients in your soil.

Spreading Seed and Fertilizing
Spread the seed in a crisscross pattern by going in one direction, and then going in a perpendicular direction; do the same with the fertilizer* and the lime, if needed (using a spreader is recommended). It should be noted that all these things can be applied at the same time but not in the spreader at the same time. After the seed is down a thin layer of topsoil should be sprinkled over the seed. At the very least, take a rake and lightly rake the seed into the soil. Put a light layer of straw over the new seed to help retain moisture. *Always use a starter fertilizer specially formulated for new lawns to get the seed off to a good start.

Watering is a very important part of seed establishment and the area where most people have difficulty. In this stage of a new lawn, it is imperative that the seed not dry out. This means watering the seed and new seedlings for up to 2 weeks after the grass emerges, every day lightly to keep the seed damp. (Sometimes several times a day in the summer heat for warm season grasses.) This could be take up to 4 or 5 weeks depending on the type of seed you use. When planting cool season grasses in the fall, usually you can take advantage of mother nature’s rainfall to help with this part of the establishment!

Lawn Renovation
When renovating a cool season lawn, the procedures are very similar. Kill any weeds you might have, this time with a selective herbicide that won’t damage the good grass you have. Determine what type of grass you have (bring a sample if you’re not sure) so you can select a specific type of seed for reseeding. One of our lawn care experts can help you with this!

One to two weeks after killing any weeds, rent a slicing machine or a slit seeder to prepare the ground for reseeding; these machines are best for preparing the soil for new seed. Aeration may be needed if you have heavy clay soil, but it is best to do this at a later time (after the seed is established). Run the slicing machine in a crisscross pattern across the area and then use a spreader to sow the seed. If you have a slit seeder, just put the seed in the hopper and it seeds and slits at the same time. If you are unable to rent one of these machines or are doing a small area, take a rake and break the shell that has formed over any bare ground to expose the soil beneath so the seed can get down into the soil; lightly rake after the seed has been sown.

A layer of topsoil or straw is recommended on bare areas to help retain moisture and to help promote germination. As with lawn establishment, lime as needed and use a starter fertilizer (even with the partially established lawn). Water at directed above and your new grass will be ready to mow 23 weeks after you first see the seed start to emerge.

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