Establishing Your New Seed Lawn

A. WATERING

First month – Watering is the most critical factor for the rapid and healthy development of your lawn. To promote germination, the seed and young grass should not be allowed to dry out for the first three weeks after seeding. The lawn area should be kept moist but not saturated. A daily schedule consisting of a light watering early in the morning, a light misting in the early afternoon, and a second light misting in the later afternoon (especially during hot, dry weather) will help achieve this.

After first month – After the grass greens up and reaches a height of about 3″ (about 30 days), watering should be adjusted to approximately 35 – 45 minutes (rotary heads) every 2 days in Summer (in Spring and Fall every 3-4 days). ONCE THE GRASS HAS BEEN ESTABLISHED, DO NOT WATER EVERY DAY. This can lead to disease problems, drowning of roots, and weak root development. If the lawn is drying out in the summer heat, increase the time per zone rather than the number of watering days per week.

BEST TIME TO WATER – between 1 a.m. and 10 a.m.
WORST TIME TO WATER – between 4 p.m. and 1 p.m. (Fungus will develop and grow when the grass stays wet for more than 6 or 7 hours during the course of the night, so avoid the urge to water your lawn in the early evening.)

B. MOWING

First mowing – About 30 days after seeding. TIMING IS CRITICAL. If the lawn gets too long it will fall over and mat down, leading to the development of disease. The lawn should not be watered within 24 hours of the first mowing so that the mower tires and workers’ feet don’t make ruts in the wet soil. Make sure to turn off your sprinkler clock the night before. The mowers should cut off no more than the top 1″ of the grass blades so that the grass will not go into shock. Resume normal watering after mowing.

C. AFTERCARE

The establishment of a healthy lawn from seed is a long-term process. Use of the seeded area should be limited as much as possible while the grass is getting established. Depending on the time of the year the seeding is done, it may take up to 12 months to reach the look of a sod lawn. The ideal time for seeding and touching up of seeded lawns is mid-August to mid- October. Avoid use of crabgrass control while the lawn is newly seeded.

D. FERTILIZING

Apply a complete fertilizer only after the lawn has been up for at least 30 days. Avoid fertilizers heavy in Nitrogen (the first number of the three that appear on the bag) for this first fertilization. An ideal balance would be in the range of 10-30-15 (as opposed to 25-3-3). After the initial fertilization, follow a May-August-Thanksgiving fertilization schedule (i.e. 3 applications per year). If you are a chemicals minimalist, then use an organic fertilizer and apply on Thanksgiving only, or again in July.

Establishing Your New Sod Lawn

A. WATERING

First week – Every day for 15 minutes (mist zones) to 45 minutes (rotary zones) per day for zones in full sun or on slopes, 10 minutes (mist zones) to 30 minutes (rotary zones) for zones in shade half the day or more.

After first week – should now be changed to 20 minutes (mist) to 45 minutes (rotary) per zone every two days (summer), every four days (spring and fall). For low-lying zones that tend to stay wet and zones that are shady most of the day, watering time should not exceed 30 minutes, and preferably these problem-area zones should be shut off and turned on manually only when necessary. WATERING EVERY DAY, REGARDLESS OF TEMPERATURE, CAN LEAD TO DISEASE PROBLEMS AND DROWNING OF ROOTS. If your lawn seems to be drying out in the heat of the summer, increase the time per zone rather than the number of days per week that the system goes on. Lawns will tend to turn light brown in spots during times of drought, but will green up again after the next heavy rain. Watering schedules should be adjusted to accommodate for natural rainfall.

BEST TIME TO WATER – between 1 a.m. and 10 a.m.

WORST TIME TO WATER – between 4 p.m. and 1a.m. ( Fungus will develop and grow when the grass stays wet for more than 6 or 7 hours during the course of the night, so avoid the urge to water your lawn in the early evening.)

B. MOWING

First mowing – 7-10 DAYS AFTER LAYING. TIMING IS CRITICAL. If the sod gets too long it will fall over and mat down, leading to the development of disease. The lawn should not be watered 24 hours prior to first mowing so the mower tires and worker’s feet don’t make ruts in the soft, wet sod. Make sure that you turn your clock off the night before the grass is scheduled to be cut. The mowers should cut off no more than the top 1″ of the grass blades so that the grass does not go into shock. Resume watering after mowing.

Second mowing – Ideally, 4 to 5 days after the first mowing. Follow the same instructions as for the first mowing. (Practically, it will be difficult to get your maintenance company to break their weekly schedule.) After this, a regular mowing schedule can be established.

Summer and Fall Gardening Tips

August 1st: Last day for heavy summer pruning of rhododendrons, azaleas, forsythia and other spring-flowering shrubs. Also time to reapply slow-release dry fertilizer to your pots of annuals.

August 15th through September 15th: Time to divide and replant overgrown clumps of perennials.

August 15th through October 1st: Ideal time for re-seeding an old lawn or seeding a new lawn.

September 1st: Last day for trimming of hedges

October 1st through Thanksgiving: Time to plant spring bulbs.

November 15th through December 1st: Time to apply your last lawn fertilization.

November 15th through December 1st: Time to remulch perennial beds.