ANITA STONE: How to Start A New Lawn From Seed
Since receiving several e-mails regarding the start of a new lawn, I want to devote this column to turf, grass, green stuff, or whatever you want to call the landscape.
The least expensive way to start a lawn is by seed. And as long as the area is relatively flat, starting a lawn with seed is a no-brainer. This project can take place in spring or fall.
The first priority is to choose your grass carefully. Different types of grass perform better in some places than others, depending on sunlight and exposure. Read the package for information on which grass to choose for your yard. I always prefer to purchase loose seed at a hardware store or a place that specializes in farm products.
The first step is to remove all debris, such as wood, rocks and roots. Use a spade and garden rake to smooth the soil. If your budget permits, add a bit of organic matter, in the way of a one-inch layer of compost, dried manure or sphagnum peat moss. Dig or till the matter into the soil, then smooth again with a garden rake.
Calculate the space you will be seeding. For small areas, such as 150-square-feet or less, simply scatter the seed by hand. In larger areas, you can use a broadcast or drop spreader for uniform coverage. Divide the seed into two equal portions. Sow the first portion across the lawn in rows; then sow the second portion in rows at right angles to the first until you crisscross the entire lawn.
Mulch lightly after seeding to keep the soil moist. Use any number of materials, including fine compost, dried manure, topsoil, straw, or even a thin layer of sawdust.
When you are ready to water, use a gentle sprinkler or hand sprayer with a mist, attempting to avoid washing away soil and seed. Soak the soil 6 inches deep immediately after sowing. It's important never to let the seed dry out. This inhibits germination.
It takes a minimum of seven days for seed to germinate and much longer for warm season grasses (up to 30 days for grasses like Bermuda and Zoysia). Until seedlings are visible, lightly water with a sprinkler as often as three to four times a day, until the grass is half an inch high.
Make a plan for watering efficiently when hot weather arrives. Take some time to consider which irrigation method is best suited to your situation.
The most efficient method is drip or trickle irrigation. If you're going to hand-water, find a nozzle that sizes the water into droplets that keep soil from washing away or separating.
The simplest type of irrigation is one used by several people -- the soaker hose, a fibrous tube that allows water to seep out along the length of the hose. It is suitable for several plantings.
- Begin staking tall-growing plants when they reach one-third of their mature height.
- It's not too late to plant perennials so long as you're willing to pamper them. Get your vegetables in the ground or in container pots.
- Journal the progress of your garden, noting pest problems, health of flowers, growth.
- Watch for perennials that reseed such as lenten rose, fountain grass, coneflower, Shasta daisy and phlox. Deadhead before they release their seeds if you want to reduce offspring.
- Be on the lookout for damage caused by aphids, spider mites and Japanese beetles.
- Tie climbing rose canes to their supports.
- Care for your trees with a ring of weed-suppressing mulch.
- Remove dead or diseased wood at any time.
- To encourage plant growth, fertilize with a slow-release fertilizer and water well afterward.
- Dig and divide crowded liriope.
- Plant seedlings of morning glory, moonflower and scarlet runner bean.
- Plant tropical water lilies, preventing muddying up of the water. Ask for assistance at your local nursery.
Contact Anita Stone at email@example.com.
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