33 September 24, 2008
Over the last few weeks, I have been telling you how to prepare your lawn for seeding. Now that you have the lawn ready for the seed, you need to pick the correct seed mixture.
I hope that you noticed that I mentioned seed mixtures. If you use just one variety of seed to apply to your lawn, you run the chance of losing the lawn to a plant disease somewhere down the road. If you use a mixture of seeds, it is harder for the plant disease to infect all of the varieties found in the mixture. Using a mixture of seeds also allows for the changes in light and soil conditions that you have in your yard. You may think that all of your lawn is in the sun. If you looked at your lawn throughout the day, you may find that some areas are in the shade for longer than you think. If you use a mixture of seeds, you will have some of the seeds that grow well in the shade become the dominant grass in those shady areas. You may also find that as hard as you might try to have a consistent 6 inches of good loam in your yard that some of the areas will have less depth of soil. A good seed mixture will have seeds that have a better chance of growing in less than ideal soil conditions.
Now let’s talk about the types of grass seed. Most people have heard about bluegrass. It does make a beautiful lawn. It grows best in sunny areas and it does need a fair amount of water each week to keep it growing properly. Bluegrasses also need a steady supply of fertilizer to maintain its growth. Another variety of seed is the fescues. Fescues are a big family of seeds. Most of the seed varieties grow well in shady areas. By no means does that mean that they won’t grow in the sun. Let’s refer to them as shade tolerant. Creeping fescue is commonly found in shady mixtures. There is also a type of fescue called tall fescue. Many years ago, all of the tall fescues tended to grow clumps of grass and not make a great visual appearance. The advantage of the tall fescue was that it stood up to kids playing on it and it would grow in poorer soils. Tall fescues have been hybridized to the point that you can now get turf type tall fescues. These varieties have thinner blades and when planted, the seed tend to form a more consistent looking lawn. The root system is massive and once established, needs less water and fertilizer to keep it looking good. It holds up to traffic, grows well in poorer soils and has tolerance for shady conditions. A turf type tall fescue lawn may not look like a golf course, but it makes a great lawn if you want a lower maintenance lawn.
Now that you know about the types of seed, you need to pick out a good mixture of seed. If you have a lawn that get some sun and some shade, then you would pick a mixture referred to as a sun and shade mixture. This would be a mixture of bluegrasses, fescues and perennial ryegrass. The perennial ryegrass is added to the mixture because it grows quickly and helps to hold the soil in place while the slower to grow bluegrasses and fescues take their time to grow. If, on the other hand, the lawn area will be in shade most of the day, then a mixture high in fescues will be your best bet. If the lawn area will be a high traffic area from kids or pets running around the yard, then a mixture that is high in turf type tall fescues will be the mixture you need.
You may wonder how you know what the mixture is that is contained in the bag of grass seed. My first choice would be that you go to your local garden center and ask for help. Knowing that some of you will opt for those “other” stores, all you need to do is look on the bag. Each bag of grass seed is required by law, to have the percentage of each type of grass seed printed on the bag. It may be on a tag sewn on the bag or it may be an area on the side or back of the bag. If you look at the label, it will tell you what type of seed are in the mixture.
Once you have the grass seed, you need to get it applied and then comes the most important part of putting in a lawn. You have to keep the seed bed moist. On a warm and windy day, you will have to water multiple times per day. You will water less when it is cloudy and there is less wind. If you look at the soil and the soil appears moist, then you don’t have to water. It is better to water often, rather than trying to pour on enough water to keep the soil wet all day. If you keep up with the watering, you will probably see some growth in a week or so. Bluegrasses and some fescues can take as long as 21 days to begin showing signs of growth.
Well, that’s the basics of putting in a lawn. If you have any other questions, stop by the store. We always have someone there who can answer your question.
Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.