Having a beautiful, lush, green lawn is easy to accomplish and inexpensive but it will require quality grass seed, diligence, and patience. The right seeds, right sowing time, and a few other tips and tricks will help you plant and maintain a healthy green lawn.
Use quality grass seed that is zoned hardy for your climate, your landscape, and lawn usage. A cold climate with a yard in partial sun that has very little foot traffic will need a different grass seed that a yard in a warm climate that receives little rain and has heavy foot traffic.
All the information needed will be on the grass seed bag and/or a qualified salesperson can provide useful information at a garden supply center.
Most landscapes have sunny and shady areas, so more than one type of grass seed may be needed.
Grass seeds should be planted in the spring or fall for best results.
The soil will need to be raked and slightly broken up before sowing grass seed. This is true for planting a new lawn or repairing an existing one.
Raking will remove debris and thatch (a build-up of dead grass clippings) that will hinder the seeds from coming into contact with the soil.
Wear golf shoes or aerator shoes while raking to help break up the soil. These shoes should be worn anytime you are working on the lawn to help prevent soil compaction and promote good air circulation.
If the soil is compacted or rocky, adding a 1-inch (2.5cm) layer of topsoil or potting soil after raking to help the grass seed germinate better.
Fertilize The Area
Fertilize the area with a dry, organic fertilizer that is high in nitrogen. Mix 3-pounds (1.36 kg) of Epsom Salts to each 50-pounds (22.68kg) of organic fertilizer to stimulate root growth. Apply the dry fertilizer/Epsom Salts mixture according to the manufacturer’s directions with a broadcast spreader and water area thoroughly and wait 24-hours.
Plant Grass Seeds
After 24-hours spread grass seeds over the area with again a broadcast spreader. Water well and cover with straw to hold in the moisture. Water daily in the early morning to prevent evaporation. The seeds will germinate and the straw will decompose and add nutrients to the soil.
It will take more than one growing season to have an established lawn and you may have to over-seed the lawn occasionally to fill in bare spots.
Lawns develop bare spots for various reasons and will need to be repaired with a simple process called over-seeding or re-seeding. Rake bare spots to loosen the soil and sprinkle topsoil or potting soil over the area, along with a small handful of Epsom Salts. Water area and wait 24 hours. Sprinkle grass seeds on the area, cover with straw and water well. Keep area moist until grass becomes established.
To repair a sparse lawn, rake the lawn and broadcast grass seeds on top of the existing lawn. Water daily until seeds germinate.
Feed an established lawn once in the spring and again in the fall with an organic lawn food.
If you want a green landscape without the weekly grass cutting, plant grass alternatives. These plants also help fill in landscape areas where grass just will not grow.
Mondo grass (Ophiopogon japonicus)
It comes in different varieties and grows well in the shade under large trees. Mondo grass spreads rapidly via underground tubers.
Liriope (Liriope muscari)
It is a low-growing, evergreen ground-cover for shady areas. Also known as monkey grass, is a fast-grower that forms mounds of grass like, drought-resistant foliage and produces spikes of purple flowers in late summer.
Ground-covers like Foam Flower (Tiarella sp.), Lungwort (Pulmonaria sp.), and Red Barrenwort (Epimedium rubrum) grow well in shade, never need mowing, and will produce colorful blooms.
They suck the moisture out of tender blades of grass and leave behind yellow spots in the lawn. Make this organic pest control to rid the lawn of cinch bugs; Place 10-drops of rosemary oil in a quart of water, then pour into a spray bottle and apply to affected area. Repeat treatment once after the next rain or if you see evidence of more chinch bug damage.
Slugs, snails, earwigs
If it creeps, crawls, and leaves a trail of slime behind in the lawn, we can catch them in a DIY beer trap. Use a cat food can and sink it into the soil up to the rim, then fill halfway with cheap beer. Slugs, snails, earwigs, and other pests can’t resist the yeasty brew and will crawl in and drown.
They start feeding on grass roots in late summer and turn grass brown. Use natural neem oil to get rid of mole crickets.
My article, “How to get rid of Brown marmorated stink bugs?” explains how to prepare neem oil sprays.
Lawn Problems and Solutions
The cause of fairy rings is underground fungi. After some rain, the fungi pop up through the softened lawn soil and create a ring of what appears to be mounded grass at first, followed by a ring-shaped growth of toadstools. The lawn within the ring will wither and die in a dew days.
Kill fairy ring fungi by sprinkling powdered laundry detergent all over the area just before a rain.
Dog urine spots
You can treat and neutralize them with dry laundry detergent. The detergent will not harm the grass. Re-seed areas after 1-week.
Grass growth slows down when the sun sets so mow after 7pm to prevent harming the grass.
Water lawn between 5am and 8am. All plants uptake water best in the morning.
Give your lawn a diagonal line look by changing the mowing height of the lawnmower blade on every other pass. Make one mowing pass with the normal blade height, then raise the blade 1-inch (2.5cm) for the next parallel pass. Repeat the lawnmower blade raising and lowering pattern across the entire lawn.