You've probably heard lots of advice from your neighbors. They probably say that starting a new lawn is hard work best left to professionals. Or you should bite the bullet and pay for sod. The fact is, you can save money and be successful starting a new lawn from seed. You just need a little preparation, quality seeds suited to your area, well-prepared soil, and a little patience.
This step is optional. Sure, you can go through the trouble of getting your soil analyzed by the county. You can even do it yourself with a kit. What you'll learn from a test is what nutrients and amendments to add to your soil to improve it. Fortunately, you can get beautiful results with good preparation and maintenance.
Once you've laid out the area where you want your future lawn, take a walk. It's time to inspect your ground. Remove large rocks and debris before you work it over with a tiller. Your goal is to break your soil down to pea- or marble-sized particles, which serve as welcome mats for grass seeds. To improve your soil quality, mix in several bags of Scotts® Turf Builder® Lawn Soil.
You don't want peaks and valleys in your new lawn. Use a rake to even out the surface as well as you can. At this point, you might be tempted to bring in new topsoil. That's not a good idea, since it may contain seeds of weeds that are tough to control. As you rake, keep removing any rocks or debris you come across.
Which goes on first, the seed or the fertilizer? It's up to you. Either way, use a drop or rotary spreader. Just follow the settings on the packages. You want to fertilize on the same day with Scotts® Starter® Fertilizer to give your grass seeds a head start.
After the seeds and fertilizer are laid down, cover up the seeds with a quarter inch of dirt. You can do this by gently dragging the back of a leaf rake over your seeded area. On hills, mulch with a thin layer of straw to keep seeds from washing away. Make sure you can plainly see the seedbed beneath the straw. You can also mulch with straw on the rest of your new lawn to cut back on water use.
After all your efforts, you don't want your grass seed to dry out. Make sure your new lawn stays moist through the top inch of soil. You may need to water two or three times a day. Keep at it until your seedlings are well established. Then you can start watering thoroughly once or twice a week.
Great, your new lawn is growing vigorously. Now you have to cut it. Make sure you only mow the top third of the grass blades. Adjust your mower to a higher setting to keep the lawn nice and thick. When you cut it too short, weeds can sneak in.