Table of Contents
- 1 Grass Seed For A Green Lawn
- 2 Grass Seed and Sod Guide
- 3 Planting Grass Seed
- 4 Grass allergies
- 5 Best Lawn Alternatives for Beautiful Backyard
Grass Seed For A Green LawnGrass Seed For A Green Lawn
When looking at repairing your lawn, you can take into account the type of grass you already have on your property, so that you can add to the current grass.
If you are to replace your current lawn with a total new grass, then speak to the nursery lawn staff and they should advise you on the best growing grass suited to your area.
This should result in a new grass lawn using your new grass seed. It should look the best lawn on the street, as it has the newest and best grass seed to grow a green lawn in your area.
A green lawn is the best lawn in town. This factor would help maintain the value of your property.
A Green Lawn is a Huge Selling Point
There are many people who take pride in their lawn, and these people know that a great lawn is a huge selling point if you are selling your home.
Other people just prefer to put a lot of time and energy into their lawn because they love the look of green, and lush grass covering.
If you have a lawn that looks less than perfect, there are many things you can do. Besides watering and fertilizing, you should consider planting grass seed to fill in some of the blank spots.
Varieties of Grass
What you buy will depend on what type of grass you already have, or if you want to start all over again, what type of grass you would like.
Many people don’t know it, but there are different types of grass seed that each gives a different look to a lawn. It is relatively easy to plant as long as you follow a few simple rules.
Place “New Grass Seed” Signs
Most people lay down grass seed in the fall so that it has time to take root, and then it will grow properly in the spring. When you do this, you want to rope off the part of the lawn that you are seeding so that no one walks over it.
It might be best to place a few signs stating that the lawn is roped off because of grass seed. There are many who will ignore ropes unless they know why they are there. Don’t leave them guessing. You will find that most will respect this.
Cover Grass Seed With Hay
You want to cover your grass seed with hay so that the birds don’t feed on it. Traditionally, the seeds are thrown down on the top of the soil, and this makes them easy pickings for birds and even squirrels.
A layer of hay will help keep them away. If you are going through a dry spell, you should make sure you water your grass seed, as well as the rest of your lawn at least once a day.
This will help it grow more quickly and take root before the winter comes. Though there are some that claim you should only water your lawn at dusk or after dark, it is really okay to do so at any time of the day.
You may not be allowed to water your lawn during the day if your area is covered with water restrictions. If this is the case, then follow those rules and water only during the allowable times.
You don’t want to pay a fine or be humiliated on television as the person who is wasting the town water on their grass during a period of water restrictions.
You could still have the best looking green lawn if you follow the rules. Alternatively, you could have your own above ground storage tank, and you won’t need to worry about water restrictions, as you have your own water. Just ensure you have enough water for your own use and to keep your lawn green.
Grass Seed and Sod Guide
- Cost: Grass seed is hands down, far cheaper than sod. The process of growing sod takes about two years, in which professionals weed, water, and keep grass pesticide free, all of which costs money. Cost is one of the defining factors that steer buyers towards seed. Plan out a budget for your new lawn, regardless of what you choose.
- Time: Planting a sod lawn gives you instant gratification while waiting for seeds to grow can take several weeks. Depending on how long you want to wait for a full lawn will help you decide between sod and seed.
- Timing: The prime time to plant seeds is in late spring or early fall. If you have missed these times, a seed may not be an option. Sod, on the other hand, can be laid at almost any time during the growing season.
- Custom blends: Depending on the terrain of your land, you may want to choose a custom blend of grass types, especially if there are areas that are excessively shady or where grass has a tendency to die. Seed allows you to plant what you want where you want. Sod, on the other hand, is pre-grown and cannot be customized.
- Appearance: Sod is pleasing to the eye right from the get-go. Seed, on the other hand, takes a while to become uniform in appearance. It can be patchy or have uneven color for a year or more.
- Weeds: Seeds are more vulnerable to weeds than sod. Weed seeds have a chance to grow, along with grass seed, while sod helps keep invasive weeds from surfacing.
- Labor: Laying sod can be more physically challenging than sowing seeds. While planting seeds takes little effort and no heavy tools, sod can be bulky and heavy. If money is not an object, you can hire a professional landscaper to lay sod.
Preparing the Soil
Planting areas need to be prepared well in advance of planting time–no matter if you are using sod or seed. Here are a few tips that will help get you ready.
- Remove weeds from soil: Weeds will continue to grow if left alone, and grass should never be planted on top of weeds.
- Till the area: preferably with a rototiller, 4 to 6 inches deep. This will allow you to break up dead grass and compact soil. It will also allow the soil to receive additional oxygen. At this time, organic matter or lime can be added. Organic matter, such as manure or compost, can add nutrients to problem areas while lime can be used to neutralize acidic soil.
- Rake the area: A steel rake can remove dead grass and other foliage. It can also help in removing stones. Once excess material has been removed, use the rake to even the soil.
- Smooth the soil: This can be done with a rake as well. Ridding the area of slopes means that both sod and seed will have an easier time taking root. It also ensures that water won’t pool in an uneven area, which can kill grass.
Once you have taken all these steps, your soil is ready for planting! To plant sod, follow sod grower’s directions carefully. To plant a seed, use a mechanical spreader. And remember, after seed or sod has been laid, watering is one of the most important things you will do in the first several weeks.
Planting Grass Seed
Although there are different methods of grass planting, the end result is still the same: you want to create a healthy lawn. All grass seeds have the highest chance of success if they are planted in prepared soil that has been tilled and is free of weeds and rocks.
Effective soil/seed contact occurs when the soil is in direct contact with the seeds that are planted. Seeds that are completely surrounded by soil have a higher chance of germinating than those that are left on top of the soil. Here are three tips to remember:
- Plant seeds at an appropriate depth: This can vary from 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch, depending on grass type. For successful germination, be sure to follow the requirements of the particular seed.
- Provide soil with moisture. Seeds will not germinate if they are not given adequate amounts of water. Once watered, firm the soil around the seeds. This can be done by hand in small areas. Many chose to use a roller presser as well.
- Plant seeds in the appropriate season: Different seed types have different temperature and climate requirements, but most are planted in the spring or fall. Soils must be warm enough, or seeds will not germinate. Excessively warm soils can cause seeds to spoil.
Now, you are ready to plant!
Popular seed planting methods
- Planting on bare, prepared soil: This is probably the best choice. As mentioned above, a prepared bed consists of tilling, removing weeds, grass and other plants and rocks. If you have an established lawn that you are getting rid of, this can be a lot of work, but worth it in the end.
- Using aeration on an established lawn: This method is used in places where patches of grass have died. In order for seeds to successfully germinate, consider aeration, which uses spikes or plugs to produce holes in the soil. Since seeds will have to compete with existing grass for moisture and nutrients, it is wise to use a higher amount of seed, as a percentage of seed will probably not germinate.
- Placing seeds on top of soil: In general, this doesn’t work very well with many warm-season panes of grass, whose seeds should be planted beneath the soil. It does, however, work well if you are planting some types of cool-season grass, such as ryegrass. Other cool season grass seeds can be raked into the soil, which still proves effective for seed germination.
- Planting early in the season: Although this method is not overly successful, it can be done with unhulled seeds. Unhulled seeds have a layer of protection on them and will stay dormant until temperatures and weather conditions are ideal for germination. If planting hulled seeds in the offseason, however, you run the risk of seeds never germinating.
- Planting seeds on snow: Cool season grasses can be planted in the winter. Grass seeds such as ryegrass, fescue, and Kentucky bluegrass will grow successfully in the springtime after the snow has melted off, which carries seeds downwards into the soil. Obviously, this will not work for warm season grasses.
- Hydroseeding: A hydroseeding machine eliminates hand planting. It pushes the seeds into the topsoil, ensuring better germination. Seeds soak within the machine before planting. Usually, a professional landscaper uses this machine for planting.
- Utilizing erosion mats: These mats cover seeds, helping to protect them from the elements, especially rain, which can cause them to wash away. If using erosion mats, make sure to still plant seeds beneath the soil. Mats are not a substitute for soil.
The culprit of grass allergies is pollen, which is a fine powder that consists of pollen grains. Pollen can be produced in large quantities by the male sperm cells of seed plants which are attempting to reach the pistil of a female plant. When released, pollen is often carried through the air for a period of several hours to several days.
What are allergies?
The immune system is responsible for an allergic reaction. What happens is that the immune system responds to a false alarm, attacking the harmless pollens that enter the body through the nose and mouth. In essence, the immune system is oversensitive, producing unneeded antibodies to attack the allergen.
Grass Species Associated with Allergies
Although there are over 1,000 species of grass in the US, only a few produce allergenic pollen. These include Kentucky bluegrass, Bermuda grass, Johnson grass, Timothy grass, Orchard grass, and Redtop grass. Because pollen has the ability to travel long distances when it is airborne, it helps very little to remove the grass from a particular area.
Those allergic to grass are often said to have hay fever, which is a common seasonal nasal allergy (taking its name from haying season). Grasses such as Rye and Timothy are commonly associated with hay fever. 90 percent of those afflicted with hay fever are allergic to grass pollen. Weed and tree pollen allergies can also cause hay fever.
Who gets them
Allergies are most common in children, although people can develop them at any age. Studies have proven that people who are in their 60s or 70s, and have never had allergies before, can still develop them. Gender, age, and race are not factors in determining who gets allergies; however, they do tend to run in some families. This can mean that there is a genetic component to those that get them.
Sufferers of grass allergies, including hay fever, may have some or all of the following symptoms, which vary greatly from person to person: Coughing, sneezing, headache, runny nose, itchy nose, throat, mouth, eyes and skin, tearing eyes, sore throat, wheezing, fever, nasal congestion, and conjunctivitis.
Diagnosing Grass Allergies
There are several ways to go about finding out if you are allergic to grass in your area. Providing a doctor with a history of symptoms is one of the first steps. The most common allergy test that is conducted is a skin test. Skin testing can involve intradermal, patch, or scratch tests. In these, a small amount of the potential grass culprit is introduced to the skin. A strong negative reaction to this amounts to proof of an allergy.
For those that cannot undergo skin tests, there are also blood tests available. A RAST blood test is one type commonly used.
Fighting off Grass Allergies
If you suffer from grass allergies, there are a number of things you can do to protect yourself and lessen your symptoms. Here are some great tips:
- Try to avoid exposure to grass pollen: One can do this by staying indoors and using an air conditioner, rather than leaving windows open. Pollen counts are higher in the morning, so try to avoid the outdoors if possible.
- Wash hands and face regularly: Grass pollen often enters the system through the nose. Keeping hands and face clean will minimize the amount that is present.
- Use a humidifier: Humidifiers are great for cleaning allergens out of the air. Air purifiers can also be beneficial.
- Try meds: There are numerous medications on the market which can relieve symptoms. These include antihistamines, nasal sprays, decongestants, and other products, such as Claritin, that boast allergy relief.
Best Lawn Alternatives for Beautiful Backyard
An ordinary turfgrass lawn can be very demanding and—let’s be honest—dull. But you can transform your lawn into an extraordinary display of interesting foliage and blooms that changes each week. Replace the sod with native wildflowers, grasses and ground covers, and you’ll have a lawn that needs little more than annual mowing. And, once it’s established, a lawn full of native plants almost never needs watering, which will make your lawn the best-looking in your neighborhood when drought turns all the other yards brown. Returning the grassy area of your yard to a meadow of indigenous species will also attract birds, butterflies, and beneficial insects to your yard.
The single most important maintenance rule for growing healthy, attractive grasses—with few exceptions—is to cut back the foliage at least once a year, says John Greenlee, author of The Encyclopedia of Ornamental Grasses. Cutting back is a substitute for the natural processes of periodic burning and grazing that take place in natural grassland ecology. Spring burning removes last year’s growth and exposes the soil to the warming rays of the sun, a boost for newly emerging grasses. Here are some hints from Greenlee on caring for your grasses.
Caring for Ornamental Grasses
Many kinds of grass prefer to be burned, but that can be dangerous and often not possible for the home gardener. Always check with the authorities in your area to find out if burning is permitted.
Or, cut back ornamental grasses just before or as the new season’s growth begins to appear. It’s best to cut most grasses back in late winter. This allows you to enjoy the glories of winter foliage.
In mild climates, some warm-season grasses such as kangaroo grass (Themeda spp.) are sheared in September to force new growth for the fall. This sacrifices the flowers, but the fall foliage is particularly showy.
Cut warm season grasses to within a few inches of the ground. Cut cool-season grasses to two-thirds of their full size.
Use a pair of sharp hand pruners to do the cutting. You can use a string trimmer (aka weed wacker) to cut large clumps of soft grasses.
Regional Grasses and Wildflowers
A comprehensive list of meadow plants for your region and sources where you can get them.
Little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), broomsedge (Andropogon virginicus), silver bluestem (Andropogon ternarius), tickle grass (Agrostis haemalis), blanket flower Gaillardia aristata, G. pulchella), plains coreopsis (Coreposis tinctoria), lance-leaved coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata), black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), showy primrose (Oenothera speciosa), southern ragwort (Senecio aureus), butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa).
Height: 1 1/2 -2 feet.
Maintenance: Mow no lower than 4-6 inches once a year, best in late winter.
Little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), broomsedge (Andropogon virginicus), sideoats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula), red top (Agrostis alba), yellow Maryland aster (Chrysopsis mariana), blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium), pussytoes (Antennaria plaginifolia), crested iris (Iris cristata), wild geranium (Geranium maculatum), bird’s-foot violet (Viola pedata), butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa).
Height: 1 1/2-2 feet.
Maintenance: Mow no lower than 4-6 inches once a year, best in late winter/early spring.
Wiregrass (Aristida stricta), bottlebrush three-awn (Aristida spiciformis), pinewoods dropseed (Sporobolus junceus), sunshine mimosa (Mimosa strigillosa), twinflower (Dyschoriste oblongifolia), gopher apple (Licania michauxii), wild petunia (Ruellia caroliniensis), dwarf blanket flower (Gaillardia x grandifloria, Gaillardia pulchella).
Height: 12-15 inches; grass seed heads will be higher
Maintenance: Use string trimmer or swing blade to remove seed heads but don’t cut lower than 10 inches
Little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii), Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans), sideoats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula), purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), gayfeather (Liatris punctata), prairie clover (Petalostemum purpureum), compassplant (Silphium laciniatum), mountain mint (Pycnanthemum verticillatum), partridge pea (Cassia fasciculata), Culver’s root (Veronicastrum virginicum), cupplant (Silphium perfoliatum), wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa), oxeye sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides), butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), prairie coreopsis (Coreopsis palmata), sky blue asters (Aster azureus), New England aster (Aster novae-angliae), queen of the prairie (Filipendula rubra), nodding onion (Allium cernuum), turk’s-cap lily (Lilium superbum), yellow prairie coneflower (Ratibida pinnata), black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), rattlesnake master (Eryngium yuccifolium), stiff goldenrod (Solidago rigida), Joe-pye weed (Eupatorium maculatum).
Height: 4-8 feet.
Maintenance: Mow once a year in early spring before new growth begins.
Blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis), buffalograss (Buchloe dactyloides), purple three-awn (Aristida purpurea), sideoats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula), sand verbena (Abronia fragrans), desert marigold (Baileya multiradiata), wine cup (Callirhoe involucrata), pastel poppy (Eschscholzia caespitosa), California poppy (Eschscholzia californica), showy primrose (Oenothera speciosa), prairie zinnia (Zinnia grandiflora), perky Sue (Hymenoxys argentea), sand penstemon (Penstemon ambiguus), pagoda penstemon (Penstemon angustifolius).
Height: 2 feet.
Maintenance: Cut in late winter no lower than 6 inches.
Sources: 4, 7
Blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis), purple needlegrass (Nassella [formerly Stipa] pulchra), Idaho fescue (Festuca idahoensis), meadow barley (Hordeum brachyantherum), Pacific coast iris (Iris munzii, I. Fernaldii, I. Purdyi, I. Innominata, and others), California fuchsia (Zauschneria californica), tidytips (Layia platyglossa), California poppy (Eschscholzia californica), blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium bellum).
Height: 12-18 inches.
Maintenance: Cut once a year in late winter/early spring; no lower than 5 inches.