Summertime can be pretty tough on our lawns between the heat, increased traffic, dry spells, and pests. As the weather improves, most of us tend to be out enjoying our yards more. This often means we start noticing (or creating) problem areas; maybe increased traffic is wearing some areas thin or things are looking a little yellow/dull or you start noticing entire bald patches. Most of us then rush to Home Depot, grab a bag of grass seed and throw it down, expecting it to solve all of our problems. Of course, without proper care and without diagnosing the true problem, the new seed won’t take and you’ll have wasted precious time and money. We’ve all been there. To avoid that this summer, we wanted to discuss the best options for ensuring healthy grass that lasts.
Of course, we first always recommend testing your soil if you start noticing issues. Your problem could stem from an imbalance in the soil that is resolved easily with a simple addition of whatever is missing (such as lime). You should also look for signs of grubs as there is a simple, natural solution for those as well. If you’ve addressed those issues and are now trying to decide the best option for seeding, then here is our two cents.
To easily and cheaply manage the problem yourself, hand seeding is an option. It isn’t going to get you the best results, but it might be enough if you have only minor issues. Keep in mind that all new grass is going to need to a lot of water initially but that grass seed, in particular, is water intensive. This option will also result in the slowest growing grass and you’ll need to stay off the area for months to let it root properly. Furthermore, because you’ll be applying loose seed, birds and the wind can remove a lot of what you put down. While sometimes hand seeding is a good option, it certainly has it’s drawbacks and is not recommended for large areas.
Overseeding is another low cost option for typical grass seed. If your soil is healthy but your lawn is looking dull, then it may be because the existing grass type isn’t suited to your location/use. Overseeding involves planting new seed over your existing lawn, without tearing it up, so that you can attain a thicker, fuller look. For this method, we recommend slice seeding. A machine is used to cut through the thatch and open up a slit into the soil in which the seed can be dropped. This method will require less seed, since the seed to soil ratio is greater than if you broadcast or hand seed. Any area that you overseed will require a lot of water and limited traffic for a couple months.
Hydroseeding is the next option to consider. While slightly more expensive, results will come much faster and slightly less water will be required initially. This method involves applying a slurry of seed, mulch, and fertilizer that results in quick germination. The wood fiber mulch in a hydroseed mixture retains a significant amount of water around the seed which means less watering is required (but you will still have to water, especially during dry spells!). As with all other methods of applying seed, limited traffic is necessary to allow for strong root development.
Although these methods require an upfront cost, keep in mind that you may save in the long run. Rather than running to Home Depot to pick up fertilizer or watering your lawn relentlessly or applying every soil amendment you can think of, you could do it right from the get go and have a beautiful lawn for years to come. We know how tempting those quick fixes can seem but we’ve also been doing this for almost two decades and have learned that there’s definitely a right way. If you’re at all unimpressed with your lawn, then we would love to come evaluate your needs to asses the best way to grow that thick, lush lawn of your dreams. Please visit our lawn renovation page for more details on our individualized assessment and/or to request a quote.