PRODUCTION

Planting a New Lawn in the Fall


September 19, 2022

What kind of lawn seed do you need? Will it be heavily used for group sports, play by children, or exercise for dogs? Or is it intended not for foot traffic, but simply as a lush, fine-textured green plot in the overall landscape?

Hand Spreading Lawn Seed

Preparation

When preparing to plant a new area of lawn, consider these best practices and tips to ensure your project gets started right. When considering your lawn area and preparing for planting, grade the ground so that there is a gentle slope away from buildings and other areas that could be damaged by standing water. In general, allow a 1-foot slope for every 100 feet of distance.
Test and amend the soil as you would in any other garden area. This doesn’t take too long, but is a great way to make sure that you know exactly what the soil needs to support a strong, healthy lawn. A pro-level soil test kit can be purchased online at www.farmstore.com and will provide specific results and recommendations.

Wilco Premium Soil Test Kit

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DeWit Forged Trowel

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Because grass forms a thick mat about 1 inch high, the prepared planting area soil should have a height that is about an inch lower than surrounding areas unless you want the cut grass level to be standing higher than surrounding landscape areas.

Lawns started from seed are best planted in fall, early enough in the season to give the grass time to establish before cold weather comes. Fall planting avoids temperatures that can quickly dry out seed and the colder temperatures that slow and possibly prevent germination and a healthy start.
When you prepare the soil, don’t cultivate it too finely – it may crust, forming a hard surface which emerging seedlings cannot penetrate. Ideally, aim for pea-size to marble-size soil particles. It may look cool to have a “sand-like” surface for sewing your lawn seed into, but seeds like the natural movement of the soil that varied sizes of soil “clumps” allow.

JB Lawn Sunny Blend Seed, 7 lb.

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Turf Builder Rapid Grass Sun & Shade Mix with Fertilizer

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Top Choice Shady Premium Grass Seed, 10 lb.

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Planting and Fertilizing

Pick a windless day and sow seed evenly, using a drop or rotary spreader. Apply a complete dry granular fertilizer (like 16-16-16), also using a spreader.

Scotts, Elite With Edgeguard Spreader

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Cover seeds by dragging the back of a lightweight leaf rake over the area or applying a thin (1-inch) mulch. Mulching is the better option if you expect hot, dry weather or drying winds. Use an organic mulch, top soil, straw or peat moss. It’s best to avoid sawdust as it is very acidic in nature and lawns that have acidic soil don’t thrive, except for growing moss.

Turfbuilder Lawn Soil Builder, 1 cu ft.

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Sun Gro Sphagnum Peat Moss 3.8 cu. ft.

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Watering

Water thoroughly, taking care not to wash away the seed. Then keep the seeded area moist for about 3 weeks or until all grass is sprouted, watering briefly (in 5 to 10-minute spells) and frequently. An oscillating sprinkler is a great, simple watering device that can be set to cover a large area but gently provide water without washing away seed. You may need to water 3, 4, or more times a day during warm periods.

Green Thumb Metal Oscillating Sprinkler

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Mow for the first time when the grass is one-third taller than its optimum height. Mow slowly to keep from disturbing the new roots. After the initial mowing, continue to water frequently; the top inch of soil should not be allowed to dry out until the lawn is well established (this usually takes about 6 weeks and 4 mowings). Note: If you use a self-propelled lawn mower, avoid using that function until the lawn is well established so that the “pulling” wheels don’t peel out on the newly planted shoots, uprooting them.

Try to avoid walking on the lawn too much during the initial 4 to 6 weeks.


We would love to see your lush lawn, use #mywilcolife on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and tag Wilco Stores.

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