Prepare or renew your lawn in 3 steps

Sowing a lawn from seed

In spring or in fall, planting or sowing a lawn from seed requires care and attention for a good preparation.

A lawn often covers a large portion of your garden, so it stands to reason that this work deserves to be given a particular importance.

Steps in creating a lawn

Correctly sowing a lawn guarantees that it will rise quickly and ensure a suitable growth of grass.

During the first weeks it is critical to water well; ensure an easy access to water.

Waiting several weeks before fertilizing allows for the new lawn to strengthen its root system before fertilizer is applied.

1- Preparing the soil

  • The first step is to till the ground. For smaller surface areas, below 120 sq yd (100 m²), this can be done manually, but a larger surface may require the use of a rototiller.
  • Remove as many rocks, stones, stumps and other pieces of wood as you can in order to clear the area as much as possible before sowing.
  • Ideally, mix in soil conditioner such as manure or seaweed if your soil is poor, and controlled-release fertilizer in order to stimulate root system development. A rototiller helps a lot in this.
  • Level the ground so as to minimize outcropping lumps of earth.

2- Sowing the lawn

  • It is important to spread the seeds as evenly as possible. A seed spreader can be used to do this automatically.
  • In any case, respect dosages as found on the seed packaging and practice cross-seeding (one pass in one direction, then a second pass perpendicularly). Sow seeds more densely near the edges.
  • Cover the seeds thinly with a garden rake, dragging it lightly over the seeds, always in the same direction. Ideally, a thin layer of soil mix can be broadcast to cover the seeds.

3- After sowing, pack the soil and water it

  • Compact the soil with a grass roller to flatten the earth and ensure that seeds and soil are pressed together.
  • Water directly after sowing, and do so daily over the next days unless it rains.
  • It is recommended to water daily until the grass sprouts.
  • When the grass is around 2 inches high (4 to 5 cm), run the grass roller over the lawn again to strengthen the roots.
  • Mow as soon as grass sprouts reach 3 to 4 inches (8 to 10 cm) and run the grass roller over the lawn one last time.

A video on how to sow a lawn

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Sparsely sown lawn after sowing

Often a new lawn seems sparse after sowing. In some areas the lawn grows well, and in other areas, holes appear where the grass grows thinly or even not at all.

This might stem from several factors:

  • Seeds were spread unevenly.
  • Watering or rain after sowing has displaced the seeds and bunched them together. This explains why running the grass roller across the lawn after sowing is important as it helps bury the seeds.
  • If the lawn is sloped, water runoff may also be uneven and favor growth of some areas over others. This shows the importance of watering regularly, sprinkling a fine drizzle after sowing.

Once the lawn has sprouted well, if bare patches remain it is possible to sow those areas again, remembering to run the grass roller over them and water them regularly.

Caring for a new lawn

First steps to care for a new lawnEven if specially designed fertilizers are available for recently sprouted lawns, it is preferable to wait several weeks before spreading fertilizer.

Spreading fertilizer too early could literally fry your young lawn.

Mowing for the first time after sowing

Grass sprouts must be at least 3 to 4 inches (8 to 10 cm) tall before mowing for the first time.

It is counterproductive to mow earlier, since it would weaken those sprouts that might not have yet reached that size.

Watering of new lawns

Early root system development helps avoid sprouting of weeds.

  • Water in the evening, favoring a good weekly drenching over small daily drizzles.

Read also for the lawn:

Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Sprouting by John Mounsey under Pixabay license
Blue lawn mower by Minion Squad under Pixabay license