If you recently had your lawn seeded, there are special steps you must take to help it grow and look its best. Follow these tips for newly-seeded lawns:
- Water lightly but frequently. Make sure you don’t let the soil dry out once it’s seeded. For best results, you should keep it damp—but not to the point of puddles. Once the seedlings are two inches high, you can increase the amount of water you use, but water less frequently.
- Know when to mow. Mow for the first time when the grass reaches about two to two and a half inches tall. Make sure to let the soil dry out a little so your lawn mower doesn’t leave tire tracks. Cut the grass down to about an inch and a half, mowing again every time it reaches three inches. After you mow three or four times, you can increase your mowing height to three inches.
- Apply fertilizer. Make sure to fertilize four to six weeks after your yard was first seeded, and again in four to six weeks. Use a new lawn starter fertilizer that is high in phosphorus—this should be available at most garden centers.
- Be careful with herbicides. If your lawn starts to grow weeds and you need to use an herbicide, make sure that it’s safe for your yard. The product label should let you know when it’s safe to apply the herbicide to a new lawn.
If you recently installed sod in your yard, it will require different care than a seeded lawn. Care for your newly-sodded lawn by following these tips:
- Water two to three times a day. Water your sod in small amounts, two to three times a day for the first two weeks—and even more frequently when it’s hot outside. By the third week, you can reduce how often you water. Once roots begin to grow, you should begin to water more heavily. You can test for root growth by gently pulling up on the grass. If you feel resistance, the roots are beginning to grow into the soil.
- Don’t mow too soon. Wait to mow your lawn until the grass reaches four inches tall. Once the grass it tall enough, mow it down to about three inches.
- Don’t forget to fertilize. Make sure to begin a fertilization schedule four weeks after your sod is installed.
Maintaining Your Lawn
It’s not just newly-installed lawns that need your attention. Make sure to give your lawn the proper care it needs—even after its initial growth period.
- Cut your grass to the right height. A lawn cut to about three inches tall is less prone to insects, disease, and weeds.
- Cut off no more than a third of the height. Mow more frequently to avoid cutting large amounts of grass off at a time. Try to avoid letting your lawn grow to be over four and a half inches tall.
- Mulch whenever possible. Bagging your clippings removes valuable nutrients that could be returned to the soil. Investing in a good mulching mower benefits your lawn and your pocket book by reducing the amount of water and fertilizer needed to maintain a healthy lawn.
- Fertilize in September and again in late fall. At a minimum, be sure to fertilize your lawn in September and late fall. Use a fertilizer high in nitrogen such as 22-0-5. If you want to go the extra mile, add fertilization again in mid- to late May to keep your lawn green and healthy throughout the summer.
- Train your lawn to use less water. To train your yard to need less water, water it deeply to the point that water begins to run off. Wait thirty minutes and then water again to the point of runoff. You should only water when your yard needs it, rather than on a schedule. Allow the grass to develop a blue-gray hue before you water. Don’t worry, a healthy lawn will recover quickly to a lush green shortly after you water.
- Pay attention to the weather. When spring rainfall is plentiful, you may not need to water your lawn to maintain its color and density. During the heat of late summer, you will likely need to water more often.
- Consider upgrading your irrigation controller. There are new “smart” irrigation controllers on the market that adjust watering duration and intervals based on weather and soil data. This helps your yard get watered when it actually needs it, rather than on a set schedule.