Lawn Care: How to Avoid Post-Seeding Problems
It's what you do after you seed your lawn that matters most.
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Across the U.S. each spring and fall, millions of homeowners tackle the task of reseeding their lawns, usually with a cool-season grass such as fescue or rye. It's a relatively simple task that can be done by hand or with a spreader.
But it's what you do afterwards that matters most. If you just put down seed and assume the task is complete, chances are you won't wind up with the lawn you're looking for. So here's what you need to do to ensure that you'll have a great-looking lawn.
How and when to water
First, change your watering schedule. Switch to frequent, shallow watering for a week to 10 days. That will keep the seed moist and hasten germination. Once the grass is up and growing, you can go back to deep soaking once a week or so.
Reseeding, just to be sure
And when the grass does begin to grow, you might consider reseeding one more time. After all, even if you were extremely thorough the first time around, chances are you'll find bare spots in the lawn that you missed with the spreader or where the seed was washed away or eaten by birds.
That's especially true along borders and near paved surfaces where it's difficult to get good coverage, even with the best of spreaders.
Pick the strays
Check the edges of your garden beds closest to the lawn for signs of stray seeds that have germinated and get rid of the seedlings while they're young and easy to pull.
Protect new growth
Keep leaves off the newly emerged blades of grass by blowing or raking. Leaves, especially large ones, can smother the young, tender blades. However, if you do use a rake, be careful, because the new roots of the grass aren't well anchored in the soil, and you can actually pull the grass right out of the ground.
How to fertilize
You can use all-natural fertilizer anytime including the same day that you seed.
But if you use a synthetic fertilizer, wait until the grass is well-established about 10 days to two weeks because chemicals in synthetic blends can burn young grass.
Mow, of course
Mow the grass when it's roughly 4 inches tall, but don't remove more than one-third of the grass. If you wait until the grass is much taller (or cut it any shorter) the very act of mowing may stress the grass beyond the point of recovery.
Learn some safety precautions to keep everyone safe while mowing the lawn.