Updated Oct 19, 2022
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Whether you’re trying to grow grass for the first time or have some experience establishing a lawn, learning the fastest way to transform your property from seeded to lush green will yield the best results. The process isn’t complicated, but some things can go wrong and delay grass growth. This article will serve as a guide to get your lawn back to being the envy of the neighborhood.
It’s possible to grow your grass DIY style, but many homeowners prefer a professional lawn care company for optimal results. This saves time and frustration and can help prevent mishaps. TruGreen is one of the best lawn care companies. It provides science-based lawn maintenance and soil fertilization to optimize growth potential and make your lawn weed-free and thick in no time at all.
Growing grass quickly isn’t rocket science, but it’s also not intuitive. First, you need to choose the suitable grass species for your climate and the season you plan to seed. You then need to prepare your soil with amendments and fertilizer; if necessary, lay down the seed, and keep it moist and undisturbed for several weeks until it’s full enough to mow. Alternatively, you can opt to lay down sod, which provides an instant lawn but still needs preparation and watering, or hydroseeding, which yields moderately fast results.
First, you need to choose the correct type of grass. You should base this decision primarily on your climate and your personal preference. If you already have grass growing on a portion of your property, you might want to match your new grass to your existing lawn. Bermudagrass, Zoysia grass, and Centipede grass are ideal for hot environments, while bluegrass, ryegrass, and fescues are better for cooler temperatures. Many homeowners blend species for the best grass appearance year-round. You can ask your local garden store or lawn care professional if you’re unsure which species are best for your property.
As the name implies, cool-season grasses thrive in cooler weather, so it’s best to seed with them in the early fall or early spring. These grasses thrive in moderate and cool climates, like in the northern half of the United States, like the Northeast and the Pacific Northwest. The ideal growing temperature for cool-season grass types is between 65 and 75 degrees (F).
Cool-season grass seed mixtures are often best for growing in the shade. They will typically turn into a thick, deep green lawn if kept out of the full sun, which can stress them.
Below are some of the more common cool-season grass species:
On the other end of the spectrum are warm-season grass species, which thrive in warmer climates. The ideal growing temperature for these species is between 75 and 90 degrees (F). These species do best in the warmer climates found in the Southern United States. They can do just fine through hot summer days of up to around 95 degrees (F), so even the deep south is suitable. It’s best to plant these in the late spring or early summer when temperatures are high, but the sunlight isn’t too intense.
Warm-season grasses typically look coarse and are a lighter shade of green than cool-season species. They tend to come in relatively thick, especially if you provide them with the right starter fertilizer.
Some of the most prevalent warm-season grasses include:
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Once you decide what kind of grass you plan to grow, you have three options for moving forward: traditional seeding, hydroseeding, and laying down sod. Conventional seeding involves manually putting down seeds and fertilizer, hydroseeding puts everything down at once, and sod yields new grass instantly and involves putting sheets of pre-grown grass down.
Luckily, planting grass seed requires the same steps regardless of the species you’re growing and the time of year you’re seeding. You also have the option of DIY-ing your grass seed or hiring a professional company to do it for you. Since traditional seeding is the most common option, we’ll detail the steps required below.
Before you do anything else, you need to test your soil to determine the pH and nutrient balance. This information will help you decide what fertilizers and soil amendments you need to optimize growth. Identifying low phosphorus, nitrogen, or potassium levels can also give you an idea of why weeds might thrive on your lawn.
Next, you’ll need to prepare your soil by removing debris, raking it smooth, and adding any amendments you need to balance the pH. You can also take this time to level out any dips and grade the soil away from your home to avoid drainage issues. Some homeowners opt for aeration to reduce soil compaction during this step, while others aerate their ground after the grass has grown in.
Once your soil is prepped, you can lay down the seed using a garden spreader. You want to aim for even coverage, so choose a drop spreader or hand spreader for tight areas and a broadcast spreader for more extensive square footage. You should plan to use about a pound of grass seed for every 250 to 400 square feet, but it’s best to buy more than you need to ensure you have enough.
You’ll want to add some type of top dressing to help the soil retain moisture and prevent the seeds from blowing away in the wind or getting washed away by rain. Common topdressings include peat moss, hay, or a thin layer of compost or topsoil combined with fertilizer.
Adequately watering your lawn is one of the best ways to ensure germination and rapid growth after the seed is laid down. You’ll want to use your sprinkler and aim to keep the soil moist but not soaking wet at all times. Most homeowners will need to water two to four times a day for about 10 minutes per section for the first week or two. After that, cutting back to once a day will likely suffice. The best time to water is in the early morning or the early evening.
When your grass gets high enough to mow — around three to four inches — set your mower blade at the highest setting to prevent stressing the grass too much. Aim to trim every two weeks until the lawn is full and healthy. Aside from when you’re mowing, try to reduce foot traffic on your grass until it is a fully-established, lush lawn.
Laying sod is an excellent option if you need your lawn to look well-established right away. Sod consists of strips of pre-grown grass, so you don’t need to wait for germination and the seed to take root. Sod gives you an instant new lawn, although it is significantly more expensive than traditional seeding and hydroseeding.
Laying down sod is less time-consuming than seeding, but you still need to be diligent about watering, and soil preparation beforehand can still go a long way. Sod also is more convenient for larger areas, so if you’re just filling in bare spots or bare patches, seeding is probably a better option.
Choosing the right grass seed for your climate and growing season can be confusing. Add in the need to prepare your soil and determine what fertilizers and amendments are required, and the process can seem all but impossible. Luckily, professional lawn care services can help and often lead to the best and fastest results possible.
Our top pick for professional lawn maintenance is TruGreen. This company has highly-trained technicians who know your area intimately and can provide expert advice, conduct soil testing, and can perfect your soil for fast growth in a breeze. TruGreen has many service plans to choose from that offer everything from simple soil preparation to full-scale property maintenance. They are remarkably affordable, especially given the value they bring to the table. Check out TruGreen’s plans to see which is right for you.
Growing grass isn’t terribly complicated, but knowing how to optimize growth can help you go from an all-dirt property to stunning green grass in the shortest time possible. Ultimately, you’ll want to choose the right seed for your climate, prepare your soil with fertilizer, balance the pH, lay the seed, and water it sufficiently for a few weeks while it takes root.
Many homeowners choose professional lawn care companies to help expedite the process even more and yield the best results. Our top pick for expert lawn care is TruGreen. This company has various plans to choose from for all lawn stages, provides customized advice and lawn maintenance solutions, and provides a satisfaction guarantee to give you peace of mind in your decision.
The fastest way to grow grass is to lay down sod, which yields an instant lawn at a hefty price. Laying down sod still requires maintenance, but you’ll spend less time overall watering than you would with traditional seeding or even hydroseeding.
Hydroseeding is the next fastest solution but is still more expensive than traditional seeding. This process involves spraying a mixture of grass seed, water, fertilizer, and mulch over the area you want to be seeded. Although the aftercare is just as time-intensive, the application process is significantly faster than conventional seeding. Hydroseeding yields more immediate results, with germination taking place in as little as seven days in many cases.
If you opt for traditional seeding, it’s best to complete a soil test and then add fertilizer and amendments accordingly. Lay down your seed evenly, cover with peat moss or another topdressing, and then water three to four times a day for about 10 minutes each time for a week or two. Drop to one to two times a day until the grass is about three to four inches tall.
Sod is better than seeds in some respects, but it’s not better for everyone. The most significant benefit to laying sod is that you’ll have an instant lawn and don’t need to wait for your grass seed to germinate or grow in. Laying down the strips is less time-consuming than seeding but far more expensive, often more than four times as costly.
Sod also isn’t available in all grass types, whereas conventional seeding allows custom mixtures of grass species. You’ll also need to water sod diligently and prepare the soil beforehand, so the preparation and aftercare are equal.
If you live in a cool climate, one of the fastest-growing grass species is ryegrass. Bermudagrass is widely regarded as the fastest-growing warm-season grass species. These species take an estimated ten days to sprout in ideal soil and climate conditions instead of 20+ days for some other species.
Grass seed varies in price based on the species and the quantity you buy. You can expect to pay between $3 and $9 per pound on average.
Yes, overseeding can be an issue. Too much grass seed leads to competition once the grass seed germinates and begins to grow. The blades will end up competing for nutrients, sunlight, and water, which can ultimately limit growth. It’s best to aim to use about a pound of grass seed for every 250 to 400 square feet, ensuring that you get even coverage across your entire property.
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