Upping Your Grass Mass
McGuckin Hardware would like to remind you to please seed responsibly.
The high-plains desert we Front Rangers call home is not exactly the easiest place to grow a manicured lawn. Our compact, clay, alkaline soils are not conducive to root health and expansion. When the sod is not compacted, it’s trying to get that way.
But there are things you can keep in mind to beat the odds.
Firstly, don’t seed too early in season. A very common misconception is just because it’s warm outside, it’s time to seed and fertilize. Not necessarily. Now that Memorial Day has passed, the soil temperature has caught up with the air temperature, and that may be the most important factor (besides water–and we’ll get to that in a moment) to a grass seed’s ability to germinate. In future lawn endeavors, make sure seeding waits until late April at the very earliest. On the other end of that spectrum, don’t wait until the hot summer to seed, because that brings on its own set of problems.
Make sure the soil where you want grass to grow is habitable. Aeration is critical for alleviating the Colorado clay and allowing water and oxygen– two necessary ingredients for life– to get to the root zone. Aerate at least once, and ideally twice a year. Aerating in the spring before seeding or fertilization can help the thickness of grass, because the little particles can fall into all the newly created holes. You can leave all those ugly little plugs on the lawn to degrade, or you can rake them off for the compost heap, and rake a good compost into all the little holes (this will change the hard-packed composition of your sod over time).
If you’re dealing with a bare spot (or spots) in the yard, check the soil for its ability to host new roots. If it’s hard, dusty and light in color, chances are you need some extra amending. Grab some topsoil and compost and rake them into the native dirt to help improve its condition, so the grass’s new roots have something to soft and nutritious to grab into.
When you lay down the seed, try and do it evenly. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but about 12 to 16 seeds per square inch is what you’re shooting for. In other words scatter the seeds so they’re not laying on top of each other, but also so there are not noticeable gaps in between.
Now for the important part: keeping the seeds wet until they germinate. Depending on the variety of grass you go with, seeds will take between 7 and 14 days to sprout, and the better you keep them wet, the faster this process will go. Cover the seeds with a mulch (straw, peat moss, potting soil, or that recycled green paper stuff) to hold moisture on top of them constantly and re-water that mulch twice a day when the sun is not at its peak. This is very important for nice, thick results. Try and water with a nozzle that spreads the water into a gentle shower, as to not move the grass seed around.
With this diligence in mind, blades of grass should spring up fairly quickly. When they do sprout, go ahead back off the twice-a-day waterings and let the new grasslings drink at the same intervals as the rest of your lawn.
Give your grass seeds what they need, and your landscape will be singing in no time.