How to Avoid Common Grass Seed Mistakes (2024)

Creating a lush, vibrant lawn takes commitment, but the rewards of a successful grass seed project are worth the time and resources you invest. A beautiful lawn can improve your home's value, benefit the environment and enhance your family's quality of life. Even if you're a first-time lawn grower, you can seed right and avoid these common mistakes:

  1. Planting the wrong type of seed
  2. Skipping the soil test and recommendations
  3. Using lime incorrectly or unnecessarily
  4. Ignoring recommended seeding rates
  5. Miscalculating your lawn dimensions
  6. Planting without regard for proper timing

How to Avoid Common Grass Seed Mistakes (1)

Healthy, well-balanced soil provides a solid foundation for grass growth.

1. Planting the wrong type of seed

Choosing appropriate grass varieties is the first step in ensuring your lawn performs up to your aspirations. Grasses vary widely in their preferences and tolerances, just like other types of plants. Kentucky bluegrass and Bermudagrass, for example, differ significantly in climate and maintenance requirements. Planting grass varieties appropriate to your growing regiongives your seed a natural advantage.

Even with similar seed types, all grass seed isn't equal. Learn what's actually inside the seed bags you or your lawn professional buy. By understanding the seed tagson grass seed products, you can be sure you invest in quality seed. Cheaper price tags can mean less seed versus fillers, old seeds past their prime, more weed seeds and lower germination rates. Getting seed right from the start benefits your lawn and budget.

2. Skipping the soil test and recommendations

Seeding success depends on an environment conducive to good grass growth. Knowing how your soil measures up on certain essentials, such as soil pH and plant nutrients, allows you to provide the foundation an outstanding lawn needs. Soil testingprocessed through a reputable soil laboratory eliminates guesswork and reveals changes you need to make.

Without knowing where your soil stands, well-intended soil amendmentsand fertilizers can harm grass instead of help — or simply go to waste. Incorporating your specific soil lab recommendations helps circumvent potential problems and unnecessary setbacks. That's one reason turf professionalsemphasize regular soil testing to start seed right and keep lawns healthy and vibrant. Your local county extension office can help with testing kits and lab referrals.

3. Using lime incorrectly or unnecessarily

Many homeowners think lime is a lawn care necessity, but that doesn't hold true across the board. Normal lawn care can naturally cause soil pH to drop lower over time, and lime applications benefit lawns that need pH raised. But in some cases, soil pH may already be high. Using too much lime or applying it unnecessarily can be as damaging as failing to add lime when it's needed.

When soil test results show your lawn's soil pH is below levels needed for optimal grass health, liming in accordance with recommendations restores proper pH balance, increases nutrient availability and helps keep lawns green. While many lime products are slow to work, products such as Pennington Fast Acting Lime speed up the process and start working immediately.

4. Ignoring recommended seeding rates

Using the proper amount of seed for your project influences success, whether you're starting from scratch or overseeding an existing lawn.New lawns or spot repairstake about twice the amount of seed needed for overseeding thin areas. Quality grass seed labels include guidance on optimal seeding rates to maximize your results.

Don't overdo or cut corners. Too much grass seed causes undue competition for resources such as light, water and nutrients, and grass seedlings struggle as a result. Too little seed leaves lawns thin or bare. Always follow “best practice" guidelines for planting grass seed, including site preparation and good seed-to-soil contact, and stick with recommended seeding rates for lush results.

5. Miscalculating your lawn dimensions

Getting your seeding rates right requires knowing the correct size of the area you need to cover. One of the most common problems grass professionalssee is when homeowners misjudge their actual lawn areas and over-apply grass seed or other products, such as fertilizers and herbicides.

How to Avoid Common Grass Seed Mistakes (2)

Time spent measuring your lawn prevents wasted products and labor.

Knowing your total property size is just the start. All non-lawn areas must then be deducted. This includes the footprints of your house, garage and outbuildings, as well as walkways and the driveway. Only then can you calculate your actual lawn area and the amount of seed you need. Time spent on proper measurements prevents wasted product, wasted money and poor results. Get it right and every bit of seed and labor work in your favor.

6. Planting without regard for proper timing

It can be tempting to plant seed as soon as the need arises. But proper timing has an important impact on results. Grass growth occurs in seasonal cycles, which vary according to the grass types common to different regions. Timing your seed projects to coincide with growing cycles greatly improves your rate of success.

For most of the country, fall is the best time to plant grass seed. This is when cool-season grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescues peak in growth, and conditions enhance fast germination and establishment. When paired with innovations such as water-conserving Pennington Smart Seed, proper timing leads to other advantages, including less input of resources, less maintenance and better results.

7. Using weed treatments or weed & feed fertilizers with seed

One of the ways weed treatments work is by preventing germinating seeds from establishing roots. But these products, known as pre-emergents, can't distinguish between harmful weed seeds and desirable grass seed you put down. Using these products too close to newly planted seed — in timing or proximity — stops grass seed in its tracks, along with the weeds. Post-emergent weed treatments aimed at existing broadleaf weeds can also injure immature grass seedlings.

How to Avoid Common Grass Seed Mistakes (3)

Weed treatments and fertilizers used too close to planting can injure seed.

Always read and follow herbicide and fertilizer labels, especially the instructions for use on newly seeded lawns and your grass type. As a general rule, avoid pre-emergent weed treatments at least 10 to 12 weeks before seeding — or longer for some products. After planting, reserve broad-spectrum weed treatments until new lawns have been mowed at least two to three times; for fall-planted seed, that usually means spring.

When it comes to your lawn aspirations, you can bypass common grass seed mistakes and head straight for success. Make the most of your investment of time, money and grass seed, and enjoy the exceptional results. Pennington is committed to helping you grow the finest lawn possible and enjoy all the benefits that a beautiful, healthy lawn holds.

Pennington and Smart Seed are trademarks of Pennington Seed, Inc.

How to Avoid Common Grass Seed Mistakes (2024)

FAQs

How to Avoid Common Grass Seed Mistakes? ›

Don't overdo or cut corners. Too much grass seed causes undue competition for resources such as light, water and nutrients, and grass seedlings struggle as a result. Too little seed leaves lawns thin or bare.

What not to do when planting grass seed? ›

Don't cover the ground entirely with seed. You want to see some bare ground between the seeds in order to give the seedlings enough nutrients. Avoid planting grass seed too soon after applying weed prevention and control products. Don't water excessively.

What is the secret to grass seed? ›

Keeping your new grass seed consistently damp until it germinates is the most important success factor of all. The seed won't sprout without moisture, and if you water enough to break the seed coating but then let the seeds and seedling grass plants dry out, the young plants will die.

What causes grass seed to go bad? ›

Moisture levels: Excessive moisture can cause the seed to start germinating prematurely, which can lead to mold and other types of decay. On the other hand, too little moisture can cause the seed to dry out and lose its viability. Temperature: Heat accelerates seed aging and shortens its shelf life.

How to prevent grass seed heads? ›

Sharpening mower blades can help. The seed production is seldom consistent throughout a home lawn and it sometimes occurs in patches. Thus, the problem is often made more obvious by patches of seedheads occurring in an otherwise smooth, dark green lawn.

Should I sprinkle soil over grass seed? ›

Will grass seed germinate on top of the soil? Yes; in fact, germination will suffer if too much soil is placed on top of the seeds. The experts at Jonathan Green recommend placing a thin layer of mulch or topsoil over them to help keep them moist and warm and promote growth.

How deep should grass seed be buried? ›

Once you finish spreading the seed, use a rake to lightly work it into the soil at a depth of about 1/4 inch. Don't bury the seeds any deeper; grass seed needs adequate light to germinate quickly. After raking, pass over the area with a roller, which helps ensure the good seed-to-soil contact your new seed needs.

What should I put down before grass seed? ›

Don't cover grass seed with topsoil. The seed needs light to germinate. Instead, you should put topsoil down before grass seed (a thin layer is sufficient), or you should mix grass seed with topsoil.

Should you soak grass seed before spreading? ›

Turfgrass seeds can be soaked in water for 3 to 5 days to germinate. Kentucky Bluegrass (KBG) is slow to germinate and should be soaked for five days. See the chart below for recommendations on how many days to soak the most popular cool-season turfgrass seed.

How to speed up grass seed germination? ›

Use a "mist – lightly water – deeply water" process like this: After seeding and fertilizing, you'll want to keep the top inch of soil moist until the seeds start to germinate (aka sprout). This means misting the area once a day, maybe twice if it's unusually hot out there—but don't let the area get soggy.

What is the fastest way to grow new grass? ›

Laying Sod

Sod is, without a doubt, your fastest way to an established lawn since the grass is already germinated.

Is 10 year old grass seed still good? ›

If stored in a cool, dry place, grass seed can last for two to three years, but you may not get the same results as you would when planting fresh seed. As the seed ages, the percentage of seeds that will be able to germinate diminishes, forcing you to use more seed than normal to get adequate coverage.

Is morning dew enough for grass seed? ›

Morning dew sticks around longer in the absence of extreme summer temperatures, so seeds get the perfect amount of moisture for germination.

What happens if you put too much grass seed down? ›

Quality grass seed labels include guidance on optimal seeding rates to maximize your results. Don't overdo or cut corners. Too much grass seed causes undue competition for resources such as light, water and nutrients, and grass seedlings struggle as a result. Too little seed leaves lawns thin or bare.

Why is my grass turning to seed? ›

Your lawn can start to seed for a few different reasons, including being stressed out in the warm weather of summer. Grass will start to seed as a last ditch effort to start a new generation before it dies.

Will grass seed itself if you let it grow? ›

It happens. Mowing grass can be tedious and time consuming, and it's tempting to let your grass grow"¦and grow"¦and grow. Unfortunately, your grass will eventually go to seed and the long blades won't just be tough on your mower; they'll also be tough on the entirety of your yard.

What keeps grass seed from washing away? ›

You can still reseed areas of your lawn on a hill or sloped terrain, but you should consider adding some form of mulch to prevent the new seed from washing away. Like tall blades of grass, mulch will disrupt the flow of rainwater so that new seed is less likely to wash away.

Where does grass seed come from? ›

Those wheaty-looking tops are called inflorescences, and that's where grass seed comes from! It may not look like much, but grass leads a pretty interesting life, and it takes quite a bit of TLC - and a little luck - to grow a nice, lush lawn from the ground up.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Rueben Jacobs

Last Updated:

Views: 5842

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (57 voted)

Reviews: 88% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Rueben Jacobs

Birthday: 1999-03-14

Address: 951 Caterina Walk, Schambergerside, CA 67667-0896

Phone: +6881806848632

Job: Internal Education Planner

Hobby: Candle making, Cabaret, Poi, Gambling, Rock climbing, Wood carving, Computer programming

Introduction: My name is Rueben Jacobs, I am a cooperative, beautiful, kind, comfortable, glamorous, open, magnificent person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.