Best Ways to Grow Newly Planted Grass
Young lawns need special care. Learn how to water, feed and mow - and what to do about weeds and bugs.
So now that you're done planting grass seed, you're wondering: "What do I do next?" Not to worry. We can help. Follow these simple steps.
Watering New Grass
After you've planted your grass seed, the top inch of soil should be kept consistently moist but not soggy. This means misting it with water once a day, usually in the morning and again at midday, if needed. If the weather is hot and dry, you will need to mist with water more frequently. If your grass seed dries out after it has started to sprout, it will die. Once the grass seed starts to germinate, continue to keep the top two inches of soil moist until the new grass reaches mowing height (normally between 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 inches). After you’ve mowed at least once, begin to cut back on watering to about twice per week and soak the soil more deeply (about 6 to 8 inches) each time to encourage the grass roots to grow down deep in the soil.
Mowing New Grass
Whether you've seeded bare spots or a whole lawn, hold off on mowing the area until the new grass has reached mowing height. Make sure your mower blade is nice and sharp, and cut your grass only when it's dry. Don’t cut it too short and do not remove more than 1/3 of the grass height in a single mowing. If you've overseeded your existing lawn, you can mow as needed, but try to cut back on the frequency to limit traffic on the new seedlings. Check out our How to Mow the Lawn article for more mowing tips.
Feeding New Grass
Feeding is important for all lawns, but it's especially important for new grass. If you didn't feed your new grass when it was planted, apply a lawn fertilizer designed for new grass, like Scotts® Turf Builder® Starter® Food for New Lawns, 2 to 4 weeks after seeding. It will provide the right nutrients in the proper proportions that new grass plants need to grow in thick and develop strong roots. If you applied a starter lawn fertilizer when you planted your new grass, feed again 6 to 8 weeks later with a standard lawn food, like Scotts® Turf Builder® Lawn Food, which will help keep your new grass growing thick and green. Continue with regular feedings every 6 to 8 weeks to provide the nutrients your lawn needs to help crowd out weeds and withstand the stresses of heat, drought, and normal wear-and-tear.
Caring for New Sod
Just as with grass seed, you need to keep the top 1 to 2 inches of newly laid sod consistently moist but not soggy. Your new sod should be watered daily, or twice a day during hot, dry weather; if the edges of the sod start to pull apart, you’re not watering enough. After 2 weeks, start watering every other day for a longer period of time to encourage deeper root growth. After 2 to 3 weeks, if you have been watering properly, the sod should have a well-established root system. When you gently tug on the grass, it shouldn’t pull up from the soil. Once the sod has rooted into the soil, it can be mowed as needed once it reaches mowing height. This is also a good time to feed your new lawn with a lawn fertilizer designed for new grass, such as Scotts® Turf Builder® Starter® Food for New Lawns.
Handling Weeds in Your New Grass
It happens. That's because dormant weed seeds are always present in the soil, and they're waiting to sprout when they get a chance. Weeds pop up now and then among newly planted grass, but that doesn’t mean you should treat them right away. A good rule of thumb is to wait until you've mowed your new grass at least 4 times before you treat the weeds with weed-control products. The exception is if you are using a weed-control product specifically designed to be used when seeding, such as Scotts® Turf Builder® Triple Action Built for Seeding (for use on Northern lawns only). As always, remember to read and follow the product label directions for the weed-control product you are using.
Handling Bugs in Your New Grass
Bugs in a new lawn are very common, but you’ll want to protect your new grass with an insect control product. Most products labeled for insect control can be applied any time on newly planted grass. Even so, remember to always read and follow the label directions before applying an insect control product.