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Homeowners should be patient when planting grass seed PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, April 10, 2013 12:03 PM

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Homeowners rejoice! It’s spring, the temperatures are up, the sun is shining and it’s time to roll up shirt sleeves and get to work.
Not so fast, says Ohio State Extension Education Director Dr. Curtis Young.

“Before sowing any seeds, the soil temperature should be around 50 degrees at a minimum,” Young stated. “From germination to producing fibrous root systems, the young seedlings are very temperature susceptible.”

Young recommends assessing whether the lawn really needs re-seeding, since there has not been much grass growing to this point.

“Spring is the second-best time to plant grass,” Young contended. “Unfortunately, when planting at this time, seeds’ fragile root systems are challenged for survival.”
If seeding bare areas in the lawn, these are some steps to take to ensure success.

First, remove all trash and weeds. If using a herbicide like Roundup to kill weeds in the bare area, give it time to work and at least 10 days to leech out of the soil before planting any seed.

The next step is to perform the soil prep; smooth the bumps and lumps out of the soil by using a hard rake.

Proper seed selection is important and can be done now. Make note of the location where the seed will be used, for example, high traffic, sunny, or shady areas. In sunny locations, Kentucky Bluegrass seed performs well and develops a fine turf fescue which normally has Rye that pops up quickly.

“Go to a dedicated lawn and garden store and talk with a specialist to purchase blended or select species of seed,” Dr. Young insisted. “Cheap seed or seed that is not desirable will not yield the results a home owner is anticipating.”

When seeding the bare area, apply grass seed to the top and cover with a light coat of soil.

Use an application of Starter Fertilizer high in nitrogen on all parts of the lawn including the newly planted seed. There are a sequence of numbers listed on the package, which are normally shown in this format (24-25-4). This example is a Scott’s Turf Builder Starter analysis. The analysis is located in the middle or at the bottom of fertilizer package and represents the percentages of the three major nutrients plants need; nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium —N, P and K for short.

“The fertilizer gets all parts of the grass to grow quickly, especially their root systems,” Young explained.

After sewing and fertilizing, straw can be used to hold in moisture and hide seed from birds who consume it. Take caution when using the stalks to cover the seeded area and do not apply too thick, just lightly cover the planted seed. Also, weed seeds may end up germinating from the straw, rather than the grass seedlings.
Frequent, light watering keeps grass seed moist, which is necessary for germination, according to Ohio State University Extension. There are times throughout the spring season when frequent rainstorms can help keep grass seed damp, which varies on location and micro-climate. The most important thing is to check the soil of the new planting frequently and keep it watered.

“Spring seedlings are destined to go into searing heat,” Young detailed.

The best time to plant seed is in the late summer and fall when there is plenty of warm weather for the new grass to grow and mature before winter. He cautions that young grass is tender for months before it can survive on its own. Young advises against mowing the new grass until the next growing season.

“Ideally, lawns maintained at a minimal height of 2 1/2 to 3” tall perform well,” Young added.


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