putting down ferterlizer and grass seed

orangedragonflyMarch 27, 2008

Im wondering when I should put down a fertilizer and new grass seed. I know it can/has to be cool. Last year I missed it and it was to late. Is it too soon here in Mass. Its still very cool but I dont think we will be getting anymore deep freezes. I already have some iris's shooting up.

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Also..what is the best type of grass seed is the most durable. If that even makes sense. I have 3 kids and a dog. I have no idea what is already on the lawn , we have only lived here for a little while and the lady who owned the house lived her entire life here until she died at 86.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 7:43AM
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The best time to put down grass seed in MA is in the fall. If you want to seed in the spring, you should seed as early as possible, but even then you will likely lose some grass in the heat of the summer.

I think Kentucky bluegrass will probably do best in your lawn. If you have a lot of shade a fescue may be a better choice.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 11:07AM
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Dragonfly, grass seed is no different than any other plant that is just starting life.

While it is true that grass seed will sprout easier in autumn, waiting for that time to come and living without grass is ridiculous.

But, gras is no different than a tulip growing, or a rose bush--it grows when conditions are right for it.
So strewing grass seed over a lawn now would just sit there....the soil is too cold to begin germination.
The soil has to warm up...usually we use the range of 45º to 55º F for grass to start.
Temperatures expressed is for the SOIL TEMPERATURE....

Grass seed grows in soil....not air.

So when a few nice mild 60's and maybe 70's pay a visit, that might be the start for when the soil begins to warm up.
You can throw grass seed down when it still cool out....and it will wait until its optimum time to begin to germiante.

On ground that is still covered maybe by snow....or maybe the snow has gone and spring rains have come. Don't walk on your grass until it has fairly dried....or else depressions of your foot might not rebound once it does dry.

Rake the lawn well with a fan rake. Really scrape the area and open the ground to air and water.
Remove any old grass or loose material that will probably come up in any case. Then lay over the ground a "starter" fertilizer which will help the grass seed germinate and give it strength.
If you wish, lay over the area 1/2" of topsoil/compost to give to the seed something to grow in.
Then roll it lightly....put only enough water in the roller to take up 1/3 - 1/4 the volume. This will put the seed in better contact and it might too roll out any depressions formed over winter.

Sprinkle in the manner to bring the lawn seed to grow.

Whatever seed or seed mix you choose, try to buy the best seed you can afford. It pays dividends.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 6:37PM
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Jeannie's right that it's the soil temperature that determines whether seeds will germinate or not. You probably don't have a snow covered lawn, but it's probably still too cold for the grass to germinate. However, I would still plant as soon as possible, even knowing the grass won't germinate yet.

Seeding when it is too cold for the grass to germinate is known as dormant seeding (sometimes also called snow seeding). Some people will even seed in the late fall or early winter. There are a couple of advantages to this approach. There is usually abundant water in early spring, so you don't need to water the lawn. If you wait until conditions are right, you may miss the window of opportunity as you did last time. If you seed now and it's too cold, the grass won't germinate, but it won't be hurt, either. Then, as soon as conditions are right, the grass will sprout. That way, you gain a few days to a few weeks of growing, increasing the odds that the new grass will survive the summer. When it's done in the late fall/early winter, the freeze/thaw cycles and snows can help improve the seed to soil contact.

There are some disadvantages, as well. If it warms up enough for some of the grass to germinate, then turns really cold, some of the germinated grass could die, although cold season grasses do better with cold than with heat. More seed is likely to be lost to insects and birds if it sits for a long time, too.

If it were my lawn, I'd probably seed now (I seeded the other day here because I wanted to get the seed down before we got the predicted rain and snow). I intended to seed late last fall before the snows started, but decided to wait until after the first snowfall melted. This year, that didn't happen until a couple of weeks ago.

Jeannie's also right that if you have a bare lawn you can't wait until fall to seed it. I should have been more clear. You'll have better results from a fall seeding, but at least some of the grass will survive through the summer with a spring seeding.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2008 at 1:00AM
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