I have had summer jobs landscaping, worked on golf courses, and have always had an appreciation/obsession with well-maintained grass. As a homeowner, I take pride in the landscaping, but I am not an expert. ( see the experts advice below ) I like a nice lawn and enjoy running around and playing on it with my family and dog. The maintenance and challenges of keeping a well-maintained yard is fun for me. As a realtor, I know that it improves the curb appeal and value of my home. The condition of the lawn and the landscape is always the first thing I look at when viewing a home for sale. If I am looking at it, other people are as well. It can be the difference of a potential buyer not even viewing your house online, leaving money on the table for you. The size of the lot, maintenance, and cost of a lawn is also something to consider when buying a home.
Here are a few general tips and tricks from my experience:
Unless you lay sod, you cant have a brand new lawn overnight. ( like the HGTV shows ) A nice lawn takes time and work
Don't bother trying to grow grass in high-traffic areas. A path with flagstones can save you from fighting a losing battle. A defined path gives people direction.
The soil matters. I always add new topsoil when repairing patches or planting new grass. Lossen up the ground but also put some new top soil down. You can get bags at any garden store.
When you put seed down, don't ever let the soil dry. Pick a day before a few days of rain. The spring and fall is the best time.
Mulch does more than look and smell nice. It keeps water in the ground around plants and bushes.
Here are some frequently asked questions and answers from the expert in lawn care, Scotts.
Visit the Scotts website for more information on lawn and garden care.
Confused About Grass Seed?
You're not alone. It's easy to get confused about grass seed. What kind of seed to use, how to plant it, and even weather conditions can all add up to one big question mark for many people. That's why we had our experts answer some of the most commonly asked questions about planting grass seed.
General Questions About Grass Seed
What Spreader Settings Should I Use?
Spreader settings can vary, depending on what grass seed type and spreader you are using. Our Spreader Settings Tool can help you determine what spreader settings to use. Spreader settings for specific spreaders, such as our Scotts® Elite Spreader and Scotts® Whirl™ Hand-Powered Spreader, can be found on the product page under the Details and Usage tab. Don't have a spreader? Let us help you find the right one for your yard.
For Scotts® Turf Builder® Grass Seed, select the product you're interested in, and then look under the Details and Usage tab. You'll find your spreader settings there.
I Planted My Grass Seed and It Didn't Grow. What's Wrong?
There are many things
that could have happened. Too much or too little water, weather conditions, use
of weed control products, and/or poor soil conditions can all be possible
causes. Because each situation is different, it is best to call and speak with
one of our experts to help diagnose the problem. 1-800-543-TURF (8873)
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How Do I Know What Type of Grass I Have?
Grass types can vary, depending on where you live. Cool-season grass types are found predominantly in the north, and warm-season grass types, in the south. Our Identify Your Grass Type article can help you determine what type of grass is growing in your lawn.
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What Is Overseeding? Why Should I Do It?
Overseeding simply means spreading grass seed over an existing lawn to thicken the turf. Over time, seasonal stresses such as heat, drought, winter conditions, and pests can cause your grass to become thin and weak. Overseeding is a fast, inexpensive way to help bring your lawn back to its lush, green self without tearing everything out and starting over.
This article provides an easy how-to guide on overseeding.
How Do I Overseed My Lawn?
To overseed a lawn, start by mowing your lawn short and bagging the clipping. Then, rake the lawn to loosen the top layer of soil and remove any dead grass and debris. This will give the grass seed easy access to the soil.
If your lawn is a cool-season grass type, use a spreader to apply Scotts® Turf Builder® Thick’R Lawn™, a product developed specifically for overseeding that combines high performance grass seed with fertilizer and a soil improver to create an easy-to-use product you apply with a Scotts® Spreader.
If you have a bermuda, centipede, zoysia, or bahiagrass lawn, select the appropriate Scotts® Turf Builder® Grass Seed and apply it over your existing lawn using a spreader.
How is Reseeding Different from Overseeding?
While overseeding is thickening up a thin lawn, reseeding is a complete lawn renovation. When there is more bare soil or weeds than grass in your yard, it’s best to just start over from scratch. The process for reseeding the lawn is the same as installing a new lawn.
This article provides any easy how to guide on how to replant lawn grass
What About Overseeding Bermudagrass?
If you live in the deep south or southwest and your bermudagrass goes dormant and turns brown in the fall, you may want to try overseeding your dormant bermudagrass lawn with ryegrass for a temporary green lawn all winter long. You might want to try Scotts® Turf Builder® Grass Seed Quick Fix Mix or Scotts® Turf Builder® Grass Seed Perennial Ryegrass Mix.
This article provides an easy how to guide on dormant overseeding.
What’s the Best Way to Seed a Thin or Bare Spot?
There’s no need to overseed your entire lawn if you’re only worried about a few thin or bare spots. Fill them in quickly and easily with Scotts® EZ Seed® Patch & Repair, a powerful combination of high-performance seed, super-absorbent growing material, and continuous-release lawn food that’s guaranteed to grow anywhere*. Just follow these simple steps:
- Remove any dead grass and loosen up the soil.
- Evenly apply EZ Seed® so the area is covered but the ground is still visible.
- Water deeply, stopping only when the product is saturated and won’t absorb any more.
- Water again whenever EZ Seed® begins to turn light brown.
- Keep kids, pets, and mowers away until the grass reaches 3 inches high.
Be sure to read the label before using.
*subject to proper care
This article provides more information on seeding bare patches.
How Long Can I Store Grass Seed Before It Goes Bad?
If stored in a cool, dry
place, grass seed can last for 2-3 years. However, the germination rate (the
number of seeds that will grow) will decrease over time, so you may not get the
same results you would if you were using fresh seed. For best results, use
fresh product and try to plant it within a year.
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Buying Grass Seed
Where Can I Buy Scotts® Grass Seed?
Our products can be
found at most home improvement centers, mass merchants, hardware stores, and
garden centers. However, you can use our Retail Locator to learn which stores
are closest to you.
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How Much Grass Seed Should I Buy?
First you need to know
the size of the area you want to plant. If you already know how many square
feet you are seeding, then proceed to Step 2.
Sometimes it's hard to guess how big your lawn is just by looking at it. Square footage adds up fast. To help you estimate how much lawn you have, compare it to the examples on this helpful diagram.
Once you know the square footage, the next step is to look at the package to determine how many bags you need to buy. There are usually 2 coverage numbers listed on a grass seed package:
1: Overseeding Coverage: Typically, the overseeding coverage is the higher of the two coverage numbers. This is how many square feet the package will cover if you are planning to overseed, or spread grass seed into your existing lawn.
2: New Lawn Coverage: The lower of the 2 coverage numbers is normally the new lawn coverage. This is how many square feet the package will cover if you are reseeding (a complete lawn renovation) or planting a new lawn.
It's important to read each grass seed package carefully to make sure you buy the right amount.
All Scotts® grass seed products have the coverage listed on the package. The number on the front of the package is usually the overseeding coverage. The new lawn coverage can be found on the back of the bag.
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How Do I Know Which Grass Seed to Buy?
The right grass type for your yard will vary depending on where you live. Cool-season grass types are found predominantly in the north, and warm-season grass types, in the south. Our Identify Your Grass Type article can help you determine what type of grass is right for you.
Planting Grass Seed
How Do I Plant Grass Seed?
We have several how-to videos and articles on our website to help with your seeding project. Here are a few of the most popular topics:
How to Repair & Seed Bare Spots in The Lawn
How to Patch Your Lawn (video)
Thicken Your Lawn by Overseeding
How to Prepare a Lawn for Reseeding (video)
Or Click here for a link to all of our seeding project
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When Is the Best Time to Plant Grass Seed?
The answer depends on the type of grass you're planting.
Cool-season grasses (Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and fescues) grow best when temperatures are between 60-80 degrees. Early fall is the best time to seed because of its shorter days, cooler nights, and heavier dews. Your most successful seeding time is usually the 2 weeks before or after Labor Day which gives your new seedlings time to build strong roots before the winter. Spring is also a good time to plant cool-season grasses because of its moderate temperatures and heavier rainfall. However, spring also provides a good environment for crabgrass to begin germinating. If you want to prevent crabgrass from invading your newly planted grass, we recommend using Scotts® Turf Builder® Triple Action Built for Seeding. Applying this to your newly seeded areas will boost root development and prevent crabgrass.
Warm-season grasses (zoysiagrass, bermudagrass, centipedegrass, and bahiagrass) grow best when temperatures are between 75-90 degrees. So the best time to plant grass seed is from late spring (after the last frost date) through early summer. We recommend also applying Scotts® Turf Builder® Starter® Food for New Grass to your newly seeding areas to booth root development.
Can I Plant New Grass AFTER Using a Weed Control Product? (i.e. Weed Preventer or Weed Killer)
All weed control products
are different, but in general, it is not recommended to plant new grass within
4 months of using a crabgrass preventer, or within 1 month of using other weed
control products.(Unless the product is designed to be used when seeding.)
Always refer to the product label for specific information related to the weed
control product you are using.
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Why Should I Use a Starter Lawn Food?
Builder® Starter Food for New Grass provides your new grass
with the nutrients it needs to build strong roots. As a result, your new grass
will grow in faster and thicker than if you didn't feed it at all. If you want
to prevent crabgrass from invading while you are growing new grass, look for Scotts® Turf
Builder® Triple Action Built for Seeding to prevent crabgrass
when seeding. (Note, this product cannot be used on warm season grasses. Refer
to the product label for compatible grass types.)
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How Long Does It Take for Grass to Begin Growing?
The length of time
varies by grass type. The product package should tell you how long it will take
for your new grass to begin growing. For the general guidelines used by Scotts
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Should I Put Straw Down to Protect the Grass Seed?
Using straw to cover
newly seeded areas is not recommended. Some straw may contain weeds and
unwanted plant seeds that can invade your lawn. We recommend putting down a
thin layer of Scotts® Turf
Builder® LawnSoil™ evenly over prepared area. Next, spread
grass seed and lightly rake into soil.
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Caring For Newly Planted Grass
How Much Do I Need to Water My New Grass?
Watering is crucial for
seeding success. Water frequently for the first 2-3 weeks while seedling are
young and developing. This means keeping the top 1 inch of soil consistently
moist, but not soggy. Mist your seedlings daily or as needed. After your new
grass has filled in and has been mowed at least once, begin to cut back
watering intervals to twice a week, applying about ½ inch of water at each
watering.To make the whole watering process simple and virtually hands-free,
connect your irrigation system to the Gro® 7 Zone
Controller, which uses local, real-time weather data to make
automatic adjustments to its watering schedule. You can even monitor the
controller from wherever you are via your smartphone or tablet.
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How Soon Can I Mow After Planting New Grass?
If you reseeded or
planted a new lawn, avoid mowing until the new seedlings have reached a mowing
height (usually between 3 and 4 inches.) Make sure your mower blade is sharp,
and only cut your grass when it’s dry to avoid damaging the new grass blades. Do
not remove more than ⅓
of the grass height in a single mowing. If you overseeded your lawn (applied
grass seed over all or part of your existing lawn), you can continue to mow as
needed, but try to limit the frequency to reduce traffic on the new seedlings.
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When Can I Use Weed Control Products on My New Grass? (i.e. Weed Preventer or Weed Killer)
All weed control products are different, but in general, it is recommended to wait until the new grass has been mowed at least 4 times before using a crabgrass preventer or other weed control product. (Unless the product is designed to be used when seeding.) Always refer to the product label for specific information related to the weed control product you are using. If you want to prevent crabgrass from invading while growing new grass, we recommend using Scotts® Turf Builder® Triple Action Built for Seeding. The ingredients in this product prevent crabgrass when seeding and boost root development of new grass plants.
If you’ve struggled in the past to maintain a lush, green lawn and you find yourself eyeballing your neighbor’s with envy, it’s time to turn those tables. What we’re talking about here is lawn fertilizing — how to do it, when to do it, how often to do it, and so much more. Ready to get cracking? After all, that lawn isn’t going to feed itself!
What is lawn fertilizer?
Think of lawn fertilizer this way: No matter how many glasses of seltzer you drink, you can’t live on it—you need to tuck into a few good meals each day, too. Your lawn is just the same. As much as it needs water, it also needs additional nutrients to survive, and lawn fertilizer supplies those nutrients.
What are the benefits of putting fertilizer on my lawn?
If you’re into tag football, family gatherings, and anything involving bare feet, you’ll definitely want to get in the habit of properly fertilizing your lawn. That’s how you get lush grass blades that can take a beating from heat, sun, and all the foot traffic you can throw at it, and still look like a glorious green carpet. And you know those weeds you hate? They’ll stand much less of a chance in a lawn that is well-fed.
How often should I fertilize my lawn?
This one’s easy — fertilize four times a year, in early spring, late spring, summer, and fall. Have a hard time remembering? Just download the My Lawn App to help you keep track.
When should I fertilize a new lawn?
If you have a newly seeded, sodded, or plugged lawn, you’ll want to use Scotts® Turf Builder® Starter® Food for New Grass right after seeding or laying sod. Not only will it help your grass grow 35 percent quicker and 70 percent thicker than new lawns that haven’t been fed, but you can also use it on all grass types. For more information, check out When to Feed for a Greener Lawn.
How do I choose the right fertilizer for my grass type?
First, determine whether you live in the northern or southern half of the country. That’s important because the cool-season grasses that grow in the North benefit from a different type of fertilizer than the warm-season grasses found in the South. Next, you’ll need to determine if you have other needs, like insect or weed control, because many Scotts® products address multiple issues at once. And finally, choosing the right fertilizer depends upon the time of year you are applying it, as grass has different needs during each season. Visit How to Choose Lawn Products and Spreaders for more info and specific lawn food recommendations.
What do the letters NPK on the fertilizer bag mean?
Those letters stand for the nutrients nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). The numbers you see on the bag (32-0-4, for example) let you know the percentage of the N, P, and K (by weight) that’s in the bag. Here’s why it matters: Nitrogen greens up your grass and helps it grow, phosphorus stimulates root growth and helps seeds sprout, and potassium helps your lawn withstand drought and disease. The highest number for lawn fertilizers will usually be the “N”—after all, growing green grass is the ultimate goal, right?
What is the best way to apply fertilizer?
It’s pretty simple! Just follow these steps:
1. Water your lawn a few days before fertilizing so your soil is ready to accept the fertilizer.
2. Following the directions on the bag, pour the fertilizer into your spreader and adjust the spreader settings. You can use a hand-held spreader, like the Scotts® Whirl™ Hand-Powered Spreader, for a small lawn or a broadcast spreader for a larger lawn.
3. Apply the fertilizer beginning with the perimeter of your lawn, then move inward toward the center, walking in your typical mowing pattern. Use straight, slightly overlapping lines to ensure good coverage. 4. Return any unused product to the bag and store it properly (again, check the bag for instructions).
For more details, take a moment to read this article on How to Use Lawn Fertilizer.
How do I know which spreader setting to use?
There are several easy ways to help you figure out the right spreader setting. Try one of these:
● Visit the product information page for your particular fertilizer on Scotts.com and look for the guidelines in the “Spreader Settings” under the “Learn” tab;
● Use our Spreader Settings tool;
● Or, read the spreader settings guidelines on the product package.
How long after reseeding or overseeding my lawn should I wait before fertilizing?
Your best bet is to fertilize your newly seeded or overseeded lawn with Scotts® Turf Builder® Starter® Food for New Grass directly after seeding. Then, you need to wait 6 to 8 weeks before fertilizing again. If you get over-eager and think “If a little fertilizer is good, then a lot of fertilizer is better,” let us save you from yourself. Over-fertilizing at any time, especially with newly seeded lawns, can actually damage your grass — and that is no way to win the Yard of the Month award. ( Go here for more about seeding.)
Is there a best time of day to apply fertilizer?
Late afternoon or early evening (when there’s still light, of course) is the best time of day to apply lawn fertilizer. Applying it in the heat of a scorching afternoon can cause the sun’s rays to burn your grass—and when your goal is “lush and green,” burned grass blades simply won’t cut it.
Can I apply fertilizer to a wet lawn?
Most Scotts® fertilizers can be applied to either a wet or dry lawn. If you’re applying a weed-and-feed product like Scotts® Turf Builder® Weed & Feed, though, you may need to apply to wet grass to help the particles adhere to the weeds for best results. How to know for sure? Check the package directions!
How long after fertilizing should I wait to water my lawn?
It depends on the fertilizer. Some lawn foods perform better when you water them in right after applying, while others—such as some weed-and-feed products—need to be watered a day or two after fertilizing. It all comes down to this: Check the product directions on the bag—they’ll tell you when to water.
What happens if it rains or snows soon after I apply fertilizer?
You’ll definitely want to check the weather before you plan to apply fertilizer—if rain or a heavy snowfall is in the forecast, you'll want to wait for another day. A light rain or snow after you apply the fertilizer won't hurt, but a downpour the next day could wash the fertilizer away. Keep in mind, too, that you never want to put fertilizer on frozen ground because the grass won’t absorb it.
How long do I need to keep kids and pets off the lawn after fertilizing?
A good rule of thumb here is to allow 24 hours after rainfall or irrigation has watered in the fertilizer before letting kids or pets play on the lawn. So, for example, if you fertilize on Thursday and water or have rain on Friday, then on Saturday, you can let everyone release all of their pent-up energy out in the yard.
When is it too hot or too cold to apply fertilizer to my lawn?
This depends upon whether you have cool-season grass or warm-season grass. The best time to fertilize your lawn is when the grass is actively growing, and for cool-season grasses, that’s when temperatures are 60 to 70 degrees F. For warm-season grasses, active growth will usually happen when temperatures are between 75 and 85 degrees F. If you live in an area where grass goes brown during the summer, you’ll want to avoid fertilizing it while it’s dormant. As for the deepest winter months, there’s no benefit to feeding your lawn at that time of the year in most areas of the country, as the grass is dormant from the cold weather.
How do I kill weeds while fertilizing my lawn?
Simply choose a fertilizer with weed control, sometimes referred to as a weed-and-feed. Scotts® Turf Builder® Weed & Feed, for example, kills over 50 types of weeds (including dandelion and clover) while feeding your lawn. If you live in the North, another option is to use Scotts® Turf Builder® Triple Action, which both kills and prevents weeds while nourishing your grass. In the South, Scotts® Turf Builder® Southern Triple Action is the product to turn to for weeding, feeding, and all-important fire ant control. As you can see, there’s no need to apply two or three products to cover all of your lawn’s needs—and that’s a good thing, because who’s got time to waste when you’re trying to win the Turf Wars?
How long does it take to see results from using lawn fertilizer?
You’ll start to see results anywhere from 1 to 5 days afterward, depending upon the type of fertilizer you use. And because most Scotts® Lawn Food products have Scotts® All-In-One Particles®, they give your lawn an even distribution of nutrients every time you apply it—helping your grass avoid the feast-or-famine, green-to-brown rollercoaster every couple of weeks that you’d experience with poor quality fertilizers.
Do I need to mow, rake, or aerate my lawn before or after fertilizing it?
Ideally, you’ll want to mow and rake before fertilizing, so that excess lawn waste is removed and the fertilizer will have an easier time reaching the soil. Aerating your soil before fertilizing can also help; the best times to aerate are when your grass is actively growing, such as in spring or early fall. For more information, check out How to Aerate & Dethatch Your Lawn.
Can I use lawn fertilizer in the garden?
While you technically could use lawn fertilizer in the garden, it’s not ideal. That’s because veggies and flowers have totally different needs from grass. Lawn fertilizer would still feed the garden plants, but they wouldn’t achieve maximum growth and might grow more leaves at the expense of flowers and fruits since that’s what lawn fertilizer is optimized for: growing lush, green leaves. Another reason to avoid using lawn fertilizer in the garden is that many lawn fertilizers also contain ingredients meant to kill weeds. Guess what happens when you use those in your garden? That’s right, both the weeds and the garden plants bite the dust. Your best bet? Keep lawn fertilizer in the lawn.
Does fertilizer ever expire?
- Fertilizer doesn’t expire, but we recommend keeping it dry and in an airtight container, and using it up within a year to get the best results. The longer the fertilizer sits unused, the more likely it is to become damp and clumpy, which could make it hard to spread.