If you are not in a hurry and would prefer a less expensive method, the cost of seeding is reasonable. Of course, you don’t get something for nothing. To save money, you’ll have to wait longer for the grass seed to establish .
There are several thing to consider when deciding whether to seed a lawn or to use sod, but the most important two are how patient you are and how much money you want to spend on your new lawn . If it is important to you to have a lawn that can be used and enjoyed within a short period of time, then spending the money for sod is the way to go. If all the proper prep work is don, sod will root quickly and can be ready for use in less than a months. Sodding can be done at almost any time of the year once winter is over, though it’s best to avoid hot midsummer temperatures.
If you are not in a hurry and would prefer a less expensive method, the cost of seeding is reasonable. Of course, you don’t get something for nothing. To save money, you’ll have to wait longer for the grass seed to establish .
What is Lawn Aeration?
Lawn Aeration is the naturally occurring process of air exchange between the soil and its surrounding atmosphere. Lawn Aeration helps reduce soil compaction without excessive injury to the grass plants. Core tines penetrate and eject cores onto the surface of the lawn. Practically speaking, aeration is the process of mechanically removing small plugs of thatch and soil from the lawn to improve soil aeration.
What are the benefits of Lawn Aeration?
Lawn Aeration helps the lawn's health and vigor, and it reduces maintenance requirements, and provides the following benefits
There are many different types of grasses & seed to choose from when deciding when deciding what to use to plant or overseed a lawn. The abundance of options can make the task of choosing somewhat overwhelming. Here we list a few of the more popular grass types with pros and cons with the goal of making a choice a little simpler.
The 'transition zone' is an area in the middle of the country where both cool season & warm season grasses tend to grow. Definitions vary but the northern edge covers the middle of Illinois across lower Pennsylvania to the east coast. The southern edge can go as far south as northern Louisiana and across middle Mississippi & Georgia to the east coast. We will concentrate on 5 varieties that do well in this area.
Cool season grasses tend to start growing in early spring & continue until the heat of late summer may cause them to go dormant and turn brown. Growth starts back up with the cooler weather of early fall & some may stay green through winter.Warm season grasses typically start their growth later in spring & thrive during the summer months. Dormancy start in the early to late fall & stays on through winter. The pros and cons listed here are just generalizations for each type of grass. Different 'cultivars'
of these grasses have be bred to overcome some of their flaws. and we will break down each group in greater detail in subsequent posts.
Cool Season Grasses
Fescue - most common in our area. 2 main groups fine leaved & broad leaved or 'tall turf fescue'
- relatively quick & easy from seed. 10-14 days to start. may appear clumpy until lawn fills out
- can be sodded if done properly
- performs well in shady areas
- will go dormant (brown) in extreme heat but recovers well when cooler temps prevail
- pest resistant (bugs) but does better in lawns that have a weed control program
- better drought resistance than other cool season grasses
- does reasonably well in high traffic areas
Ryegrass - 2 types - 'perennial' - used as a turf grass. 'Annual' - used as a temporary ground cover
only, not as a turf grass
- starts quickly & easily from seed - 3 to 7 days - fills in quickly, is bright green in color & grows
thick - especially in the springtime
- perform well in slightly shaded areas but not in intense shade
- drought tolerant for short periods of time but needs regular watering to stay green
- goes dormant (brown) in the summer but recovers in the fall ( not as quickly as fescue)
- low to moderate traffic
- good choice to maintain a green color in the winter months
Bluegrass - grows well from seed but takes time to start - 2 to 4 weeks - does ot fill in as quickly as rye
but does spread much more evenly than fescue - starter fertilizer is helpful to the process
- commonly used as sod & does well if installed properly - prep work is important
- lush beautiful finely textured grass but requires more maintenance than most
- no drought tolerance - regular watering in warmer temps a must - needs more water than
fescue & rye
- does poorly in shaded areas
- weed control program beneficial to bluegrass lawns as is leaving the grass taller
- small amounts of fertilizer help as well but too much nitrogen will burn up lawn
Warm Season Grasses
Bermuda - grows well from seed or sprigs - not seen often as sod unless it is a hybrid
- rarely needs reseeding
- good for high traffic, often used on golf courses & sports fields
- prefers full sun - grows patchy in any amount of shade
- grows faster in the hot summer months but stays dormant & brown for most of the cooler months of the year
- can be overseeded with rye for year round color
- low growing wiry grass - spreads in an aggressive manner- will take over landscape beds if not
kept in check
- drought tolerant - needs less water than most but stays greener with regular watering
- somewhat susceptible to pests & a weed control program is recommended
Zoysia - grows from plugs & spreads slowly - takes considerable time to establish
- grows very densely & chokes out just about everything once it is established
- From seed (plant in late spring for Southern Indiana) 14-21 days to start - 12 weeks to fill in if planted properly
- will spread into landscape beds if not kept in check but not as aggressive as bermuda
- likes full sun - does not do well in shade but better than bermuda
- somewhat drought tolerant but preforms best with weekly watering
- tends to stay dormant from early fall to late spring -does not mix well with any other grasses
- stay brown for more of the year than any other transition zone grass
There are many reasons for establishing new plantings of turf. Owners of newly constructed homes may be starting their first lawn. Homeowners with previously established lawns that may have declined or failed may want to start over. Regardless of the reason, it's important to take the time and prepare in advance to guard against problems afterwords.
Soil Testing. Perhaps the most important step to take in advance is to have the soil tested. A soil test will give information on soil texture and organic matter content. The test will also provide information on the relative acidity (pH) of the soil and whether or not limestone is needed. Levels of plant nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are also reported along with suggestions for fertilizer additions if needed. To have soil tested, it is important to take a sample that is representative of the area. With a trowel shovel or auger, take thin slices or borings of soil from 10 to 20 places in the area to be sampled. Sample to a depth of 3 to 5 inches and mix all the soil together in a clean pail and send or drop off about 1/2 pint of the mixture to the Experiment Station. Submit separate samples for different or problem areas.
Site Preparation. If a lawn has failed or declined, it is best to determine the cause and take the proper steps to prevent it from happening again. If poor drainage resulted in poor turf, the site could be regraded or underground drainage aids could be installed. If insects or diseases have injured or killed the turf, they should be controlled before starting again. If perennial weeds are a problem, it might be necessary to control them before reseeding.
A question that frequently arises is, "should new top soil be brought in when reestablishing a lawn?" With few exceptions, new top soil is rarely needed where an established soil exists. Newly built homes may have had the surrounding top soil removed during construction and new top soil will be necessary. If there is a need to change the elevation of a lawn to improve drainage or for aesthetic reasons, then new top soil will be needed. In any event it is always wise to have samples of top soil that is being considered for purchase tested in advance. Many so called top soils or loams are of very poor quality and consumers are often left with little recourse after purchase. New top soil should never just be placed on top of existing soil. Half should be placed on top and tilled together with the existing soil to form a transition zone. This assures better drainage from one soil to the next. The other half of the top soil can then be placed on top, tilled with the first half and made ready for seeding.
An easier way to improve conditions is to amend the existing soil with organic matter. Organic matter will help to improve the drainage of poorly drained soils and will help to improve the water and nutrient holding capacity of coarse textured, excessively drained soils. Good sources of organic matter are peat moss and well aged leaf compost. To do the job correctly, start with large amounts - four 6 cubic foot bales of sphagnum peat moss or 2-3 yards of compost per 1,000 square feet. The organic matter should be fully incorporated into the top 4-6 inches of soil. For large areas, it's advisable to use a roto tiller.
Before tilling or incorporating organic matter, suggested amounts (if any) of limestone should be evenly spread on top. This ensures that the pH of the soil in the upper 4-6 inches is adequate for turf growth. The two most common types of limestone available are: ground dolomitic limestone and pelleted limestone. Ground dolomitic limestone is the most commonly used product. It is a good source of calcium and magnesium in addition to being able to raise the soil pH. Pelleted limestone is a finer ground dolomitic limestone that has been processed into a pellet. The pellet breaks down quickly upon contact with water and, because of the finer particle size, the limestone raises pH quicker but the effect is not as long lasting as ground limestone. For that reason less pelleted limestone (65-75% of the suggested ground limestone rate) will be needed to raise the soil pH but it will be needed more frequently.
After the soil has been tilled and smoothed, fertilizer can be applied. Germinating grass seed or newly installed sod needs a readily available source of nutrients. Twenty pounds of a field or garden grade 5-10-10 or 5-10-15 fertilizer per 1,000 square feet is a standard rate. The fertilizer should be spread evenly over the entire area and lightly raked in. The area is now ready for seeding.
Seeding. The best time of the year to successfully start grass seed in Connecticut is between August 15 and September 15. During this period, the seeds germinate quickly and the seedlings grow rapidly. Another time to start grass seed is in late winter or early spring. This is a more difficult time because the soil is usually wet and cold, reducing the chances for good tilling. Grass seedings started in late spring through mid-summer are rarely very successful.
The type of grass seed chosen depends on the location and the sort of care and use the lawn will get. Kentucky bluegrass grows well in full sun, well drained conditions. It responds well to fertilization and irrigation, forming a dense sod. It can go dormant and turn brown during hot, dry summers with no irrigation, but will usually recover when cool, rainy days return. It is susceptible to several diseases so it's advisable to select blends of two or more disease resistant varieties when seeding a lawn.
Fine fescues are more suitable for less optimum locations where fertility is low or excessive drainage prevents adequate moisture. They will do well in sun or shady locations. They too are drought intolerant and may go dormant even sooner than Kentucky bluegrass. The best fescue to use is red or creeping red fescue. It's again advisable to select 2 or more varieties for the seed blend.
Improved perennial ryegrasses are best adapted to moderate conditions. They are the easiest to establish and have good winter hardiness. They will withstand heavier traffic and require about the same care as Kentucky bluegrass. The perennial rye grasses usually work well in combination with Kentucky bluegrass and fine fescues.
Turf quality tall fescues are recent introductions to the lawn seed business. They are improved varieties of a grass that is more commonly used for conservation or forage areas. They are more suited to poorer conditions such as drought, low fertility and high temperatures. They can usually withstand heavy traffic. It's usually best to grow a pure stand of tall fescues to avoid competition with other grasses.
When sowing, it's important to make sure that the seed is evenly distributed on the entire area. A reliable method on large areas is to split the total amount of seed needed in half. Using a mechanical spreader, apply one half of the seed walking back and forth in parallel lines, being careful not to overlap. Spread the other half similarly, walking in lines at right angles to the first direction. Be sure that it is not windy when spreading grass seed.
After sowing, rake the entire area lightly, covering the seed with about 1/8 inch of soil. Don't cover with too much soil or germination will be reduced. If lawns are seeded during hot weather, or on steep slopes, it might be necessary to mulch with straw. Be sure to use a seed free straw - not hay - to avoid getting the seed of unwanted grasses or weeds in the lawn. Shake the straw out thoroughly to a depth of 1 inch. On slopes, it might be necessary to hold the mulch down with well anchored netting.
Newly seeded lawns must be kept moist until the grass is well started. Irrigation should be gentle and evenly distributed. Depending on the weather, newly seeded areas may require frequent light waterings (once or twice daily) to keep the area moist. If temperatures are correct, the seed will be germinated in about 3 weeks. After germination, discontinue daily watering but avoid drying out. Water established seedlings more deeply to encourage deep roots.
Sod Installation. Another way to establish a lawn is by installing pre-grown sod. A properly installed, sodded lawn can provide an instant dense lawn that might be preferred to waiting for a seeded lawn to be established. A sodded lawn will be considerably more expensive than a seeded lawn. Sod can be installed at any time during the growing season as long as adequate water is provided.
The soil preparation for sod is the same as for seeding. Most nursery-grown sods are Kentucky bluegrass which do well in sunny locations. Sod consisting of grass types for shady locations may be more difficult to obtain. The soil surface should be moistened before laying down the sod. Sod is usually sold in strips. Lay the strips down with the edges tightly together with staggered joints like a brick wall. Cracks can be filled in with screened soil. Roll or tap down the installed sod to give good contact with the soil. Water often enough to keep the soil moist until the roots have established in the soil.
Bare Spots and Overseeding. Bare spots often occur in lawns due to problems such as drainage, compaction, insect or disease. To reseed or sod these areas, follow the guidelines for seeding entire lawns, paying special attention to eliminating the cause of the original bare spot. If appearances are important, it's wise to determine the type(s) of grass growing in the existing part of the lawn and match the new seed to them.
Occasionally, a lawn will require overseeding. Thin lawns are usually the result of neglect where fertility and irrigation have been reduced and some, but not all of the grasses have died out. In many cases, weeds have grown in where the grass has died out. They should be controlled before overseeding. The timing, fertilization and liming for overseeding is the same as for seeding large bare areas. It's important to get new seeds in contact with the soil, so after seeding, rake the entire area. Be sure to water enough to keep the soil moist.
Lawns can also decline from too much attention. Sometimes, fertilizers are applied with such frequency that the grass grows very quickly. This produces a larger amount of stems and roots that die off forming a thick layer of organic matter. This layer is called thatch and it can reduce the hardiness of a lawn. Lawns with thatch problems rarely need to be overseeded. Thatch removal methods such as core cultivation or aeration will improve conditions and allow the turf to grow successfully.
When done correctly, overseeding a lawn can provide a healthy and lush lawn. Knowing your grass variety, and the proper steps to take, helps create results.
There are two different reasons for overseeding in the fall.
Cool season grass (Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, or tall fescue) is overseeded to maintain the thickness of a lawn, especially if it has thinned due to summer heat.
Warm season grass (bermudagrass, zoysia grass or buffalograss) is overseeded with perennial ryegrass, a cool season variety, when the warm season grass becomes dormant right before winter. This creates a green lawn all year round.
The method for overseeding both kinds of lawns with cool season grass seeds is the same. Below are some tips to help you use that method successfully.
1. Cool season seeds germinate when air temperatures are about 60 to 75°F, and when soil temperatures are about 50 to 55°F. Planting too early or too late in the season will lengthen the time it takes for the seeds to germinate, or prevent them from germinating at all.
2. If your soil is compacted, you should aerate the soil before you plant the new seeds. Pulling out plugs of soil is stressful to an established lawn and therefore would be devastating to new seedlings. An aerated soil also has the benefit of new spaces for seeds to grow in.
3. You can choose seed that matches the cool season species in your lawn, but you could also introduce a new variety, which would increase your lawn’s tolerance to drought and disease.
Perennial ryegrass is the only option for overseeding warm season lawns because it germinates quickly and has unfavorable conditions to compete with come spring, when the warm season grass begins growing again. Pick a grass seed with a high pure live seed rate, a high germination rate, and no weeds or filler material.
4. Before you overseed, mow the lawn very short, almost to the point of scalping it. When the seeds start growing, you will want them to have enough access to sunlight, and taller grass can block much of it.
5. Sow the recommended amount of seed split in a horizontal and then vertical direction across the lawn. There should be recommendations of what rate to overseed at on the bag. You can sow by hand or with a seed spreader.
6. Good soil and seed contact is vital to the germination process. For this reason you should rake the lawn lightly after you’ve overseeded. You could also add a 1/8-inch layer of topsoil and firm it with a roller, although it’s not necessary.
7. After the seeds have been planted, keep the soil lightly moist by watering briefly and frequently several times a day. If the soil is too dry, the seeds could die before germinating. If the soil is too wet, they could get washed away. Once the new grass is visible you can switch to watering deeply and infrequently.
Comparing Fine and Tall Fescue Grass Seed Varieties
Grass is grass right?
Not so. If you live in the United States and are considering a major overhaul to your property, it is vital you understand the differences between tall fescue and fine fescue grass varieties. By understanding the advantages and disadvantages to each type, you can make an informed decision about what seed variety will work best in your particular area. The time spent in research will maximize all that hard work and money with years of beautiful green grass to enjoy with your family.Common traits of fescue grasses
Fescue grasses are considered cool season grasses, designed to work in the majority of the United States and into Canada. Both types of fescue grass are built with three major advantages; they are tolerant of the shade, able to withstand long periods without rain, and stay green all year. They also need less fertilizer due to a deep root system. The fescue grasses solve the problem that other grass varieties have with areas of significant temperature fluctuation; the warm season grasses cannot handle the cold winters, and the cool season grasses cannot handle the hot summer. The fescue grasses are able to handle the wide range of temperatures. Because of this, many seed mixtures contain fescue grasses as well.What are the differences between the two types?Tall fescue grass
Tall fescue grass is a broad-leaved bunching grass that works well for lawns and sports fields. Despite the word "tall" in its name, this grass when left un-mowed will not grow taller than 20". The newer varieties can be used for pastures with livestock. If the lawn is subject to extreme drought or insect damage, you can over seed a tall fescue grass in the fall to help prepare the lawn for the next warm season. This grass is built to withstand a lot of traffic, thus making it a good choice for large areas that get a lot of activity. The tall fescue grass performs a bit better in the heat than the fine fescue variety.Fine fescue grass
This variety excels in the shade. It will continue to grow rapidly despite the lack of sun. Keep in mind that if fine fescue is planted in full sunlight, it will slow down the growing process. If you have long periods of heat, this grass will have to be watered more frequently. On the flip side, it the preferred grass seed for the colder climates. Fine fescue grass seed is usually added to seed mixtures to help compliment the other variety. It is a non-aggressive, drought resistant, low maintenance grass that germinates in 14 days. There are several sub-species of fine fescue grass bred for more particular adaptations.
Sub-species of fine fescue grass
Creeping red fescue
Like its name implies, the creeping fescue creeps along the ground. This variety is especially hardy in the cold and shaded areas and has a red tint at the base of the leaf. Creeping fescue is also used for areas that are left un-mowed, such as meadow slopes and roadside locations.
This grass variety is used primarily to round out seed mixtures. The seed does well in sandy soils and can be mown quite low. The disadvantage to chewings is that it is not as tolerant to wear and tear as other varieties.
Hard fescue is in fact one of the "hardiest" varieties of fescue grass. It can be grown at high elevations and performs well in droughts, the cold, and shaded areas. The grass has a pretty blue-green color that stays green for longer than other types. It cannot be mown too low and its growing habits mimic a lot of tall fescue types.
Which one is right for you?
Once you have a better understanding of the different types of fescue grasses, take down some notes about the particular area you are seeding. Watch the sun path, look up the average high and low temperatures of the year, and analyze the amount of foot traffic and frequency of mowing. Once you have that settled, you will be able to choose the type of fescue grass that works best for your needs.
Providing detailed product information for different grass seed products available locally with the hope of making it easier for homeowners to pick a product that best suits their lawn & landscape.
( /k = for every 1000 square feet of grass area - approximately 30 feet by 33 feet)
Seed Rate - new lawn = 5 lb/k over seed =2.5 lb/k
Germination - 6-28 days
Approximate price/k to overseed = $6.06
Approximate price/lb of actual seed = $2.43
Content Variety Germination
12.7% Envy perennial ryegrass 90%
11.7% Gulf annual ryegrass 90%
9.72% Wendy Jean creeping red fescue 80%
4.86% Thermal Blue kentucky bluegrass 85%
4.86% LH-08 intermediate ryegrass 90%
4.86% Treazure II chewings fescue 80%
50% Water smart® coating
Water smart® coating - grass seed absorbs twice as much water as uncoated seed. This is to help prevent it from drying out in the event that you miss a day of watering.
Envy - cold tolerant, dense quick to grow, spreads agressively, heat tolerant
Wendy Jean - Fine texture, very dense growth, dark green color, good spreading habit
Gulf - coarse textured, lighter green color, quick to establish, grows in temeprate & cooler weather, fades out in warmer, summer months,can be used as a temporary cover to allow harder to establish blends to grow
Thermal Blue - heat & drought tolerant, shade hardiness, dense, quick spreading
Treazure II - fine texture, heat & drought tolerant, heavy traffic
It’s the first thing that anyone comes across when paying a visit to your home and will often be a reflection of your standing in the neighborhood. You know, keeping a good lawn means to most people, especially your neighbors, that you keep a neat home. Now you may not be Desperate Housewives’ “Mrs Bree Vandekamp” whose lawn can win any “Best Lawns” award, but you can still have the perfect lawn and I’m not talking about just adding fertilizer to the lawn every now and then. It is important to revitalize your garden every five or six years because grass gets tired and needs a rebirth. How do you go about it? The secret is in knowing when to overseed and power seed or even to do both.
Take a good look at your lawn, if it looks like its thinning out or weak, over-seeding may be your answer. When you overseed, you plant seeds directly into the already existing turf without tearing up the soil or turf. You may be thinking that applying sod can do the same trick but it may not give the same results. This is because when you overseed, you get a thicker, more beautiful lawn for a fraction of the cost if you used sod. Overseeding also keeps away weeds if it is mowed over 2 inches tall. It also keeps disease away because any new variety of seed sown today will have better resistance to disease than those seed varieties already existing in your lawn. The early fall is the best time to overseed but you can also get good results in the spring.
If your lawn has bugs or disease, or you do not have an automatic sprinkler system or your dog is making your lawn its playing field; you need to go for power seeding. When power seeding, you use a machine with knife-like blades to create slits in your lawn and then drop the seeds into the slits you created. If you are also looking for a quick fix to a weak lawn or you want to ensure you get grass that germinates at the optimum level you may want to opt for power seeding.
So what is the difference between overseeding and power seeding? It all has to do with personality. Some people want to get their hands and feet in contact with the soil others prefer to have a machine do all the hard work. The overseed and power seed are similar methods of getting your lawn to scream beautiful except that in the overseed method you;
For a successful overseeding process, the grower will need to ensure two things:
Power seeding helps increase turf density and improve the overall appearance of your lawn. A dense lawn keeps the bugs and weeds away. It can be used to touch up small bare areas or when doing a complete lawn renovation.
The beast season to power seed is in the Fall because of the warm days and cool nights that make it ideal for proper germination of the seed and the development of a turf early. The Fall Season also enables the seed to establish itself more quickly because it is not getting competition from weeds.
Finally, make sure you do some research on the seed you are buying. Whether you choose to overseed or power seed or both, the overall outcome is that it will ensure a consistent, healthy and beautiful lawn.