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.
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.
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) Back to Top
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.
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.
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®
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
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.
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:
any dead grass and loosen up the soil.
apply EZ Seed® so the area is covered but the ground is still visible.
deeply, stopping only when the product is saturated and won’t absorb any
again whenever EZ Seed® begins to turn light brown.
kids, pets, and mowers away until the grass reaches 3 inches high.
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. Back to Top
Buying Grass Seed
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. Back to Top
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:
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 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.
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
The answer depends on
the type of grass you're planting.
(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.
(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.
I Plant New Grass AFTER Using a Weed Control Product? (i.e. Weed Preventer or
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. Back to Top
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
here. Back to Top
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. Back to Top
Caring For Newly Planted Grass
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. Back to Top
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. Back to Top
Can I Use Weed Control Products on My New Grass? (i.e. Weed Preventer or Weed
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
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
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.
How do I choose the right fertilizer for my grass type?
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.
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).
● Or, read the
spreader settings guidelines on the product package.
How long after reseeding or overseeding my lawn should I wait
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?
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?
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
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
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?
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.