How Do You Start A Lawn?

How do you start a lawn? How to start a lawn from scratch using sod or seed. Zoysia and St. Augustine grass should start with sod, but you can seed Bermuda or Buffalo grass easily. A new lawn should be watered almost daily to establish roots.

Merrideth Jiles, who is the garden center manager at The Great Outdoors Nursery and Landscaping Center in Austin, Texas, says, "Early spring or fall are definitely the best times to plant seed or sod. Especially with sod, you are taking the plant that has basically two inches of roots and you want these roots to go down into the ground. You can sod the lawn in August, it will work, but you definitely are going to have to water very regularly because if you let that top two inches of soil get dry, your grass dies. So the spring and fall would definitely be the best times. You don't want to go too late into the fall because grass goes totally dormant in the winter. When grass is dormant and not growing, it will never establish and if you have a really cold winter, you have a better chance of losing patches of grass."

When discussing the best ways to start a lawn, Jiles goes on to say that it also depends on the type of grass that you are planting. As an example, "Zoysia and St. Augustine really can't be seeded. They have to be done from sod and you should always go to a reputable sod dealer. In a sod, basically they take grass that's growing and they cut about an inch or two of dirt with the grass growing on top of it and that's what you buy. As you can imagine, because it's grown and then cut down to the roots and only gets that little wedge of dirt, sod doesn't last a very long time. You should always buy sod from somebody that keeps it fresh on a very regular basis."

Two other common types that are used for lawns are Bermuda and Buffalo grass. Jiles says, "You can seed Bermuda grass relatively easily. Buffalo grass can also be seeded, but you have to be really careful with weeds and such. If you're starting with a blank slate and you drop Buffalo seed, you really have to stay on top of the weeds coming up so that the weeds won't take over the lawn before the Buffalo grass can get established. You can buy both Bermuda and Buffalo in sod form also." Which one you choose to use depends upon, among other things, your maintenance preferences and if you have a reputable sod dealer located near you.

Jiles ends the interview with a warning about a common blunder a lot of people make when seeding their lawn. He says, "Another thing to think about is pre-emergent herbicides. Pre-emergents keep seeds from sprouting or keep them from becoming what they can. So if you put down a pre-emergent and then throw your grass seed, you are not going to get grass. You would be surprised at how many people make that mistake. So pre-emergents and grass seed are mutually exclusive."

Always consult an expert if you are not sure about when or how to use any kind of lawn care products. It is better to take the time now to find out the correct way, then to waste all the effort of starting a lawn, only having to do it again the next season because of an easily avoidable mistake.

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