Secrets to a beautiful, new lawn

For some reason, many gardeners believe that Spring is the best time of year to plant new lawn. In reality, Mid-July through September is actually the best time for planting new grass - the warmer the soil is, the faster the seed germinates and gets established. On many occasions, I have planted in the hottest, driest part of the summer, and have had amazing results with new turf. If you want to try some of the newest varieties of grass that resist drought, insects and disease, and have a deeper, darker green appearance, then I have a few recommendations that will ensure your success.

Our newest variety of drought tolerant grass - Eden - has 3 aggressive growing, drought tolerant Bluegrasses and 2 dwarf Fescue grasses in the mix. It resists insects and diseases, fills in damaged areas very quickly, and can handle once a week watering and stay green through the summer. I don’t have any Eden at my house yet, but I do have a large section with our Mark’s Mix (3 Turf-Type Ryegrasses and 3 Turf-Type Fescues) that I just love. It really handles traffic and less water, stays green in hot temperatures with minimal water, and has never shown any signs of disease or insect damage in 10+ years. You can’t go wrong with either of these if you want to save water and still have turf.

While preparing the soil for planting, make sure to incorporate a balanced fertilizer for new lawns. Also include a natural, humate based soil conditioner like HuMic to improve seed germination and speed up its establishment. I never plant without it. Before planting, apply a seed coating to your new grass seed like Seed Coat from Soil Moist. This coating contains graphite to warm up the seed and increase germination, and a finely ground polymer that absorbs moisture like nothing else. It will hold over 100 times its weight in water, and it holds that moisture next to the seed to soften the seed’s exterior and allow the germ to emerge. This product is a life saver if you are struggling to keep your seed evenly moist.

When planting, make sure to rake the entire area lightly, apply the seed evenly, and then either rake the area again (in the opposite direction as the first rake) or use a lawn roller to lightly compact the seeded soil. Compacting the soil slightly will cover the seed with a very thin layer of soil, and aid in retaining moisture and germination. Don’t over water. We recommend that you adjust your sprinklers (or if you are doing it manually) to apply 3-8 minutes of water 3 times a day - 9 am, 1 pm, and 4 pm for example. Make sure that no puddles appear during the watering and adjust accordingly if it is too wet or if it dries out too much in between waterings. Remember: slightly damp, not soggy.

I’m so impressed with our new section of grass that we planted 4 summers ago to fix a problem area of our lawn - we used a blend of hybrid Bluegrasses and Turf-Type Ryegrasses. It’s soft, it greened up earlier and stayed green when we couldn’t water the lawn for a few weeks during some irrigation repairs, and looks amazing during the extra hot, summer season even when we only water every 4 days. I’m tempted to redo our entire lawn right now. I think you’ll be surprised how some new grasses will give you the color you’ve been wanting, while decreasing your need to water, fertilize, and prevent insects and diseases. It’s easy and not as hard to do as you think. Give it a try this summer!

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