If you're building a house, doing major outdoor work, or if your current lawn is beyond hope of renovation, you may be looking at totally redoing a lawn. Right now is the perfect time of year for replanting a lawn as the temperatures cool down enough to let the grass germinate and take root while it's still warm enough that we don't have to worry about frost. Read on to learn about your different options for a new lawn and what to expect if you go with the seed-planted route.
Sod or Seed?
Before we delve into the complicated task of successfully seeding a lawn, lets compare planting a lawn by seed to planting it with sod. Sod is pre-grown grass that comes in a roll complete with the soil the grass is rooted in. Sod is appealing to many people because you get an instant lawn without all the waiting and watching involved in planting by seed. The downside to sod is that it is much more expensive than seeding, and you can't always find specialty seed mixes or good shade varieties (yes, turf grass comes in many varieties - that sounds like a good future blog post!). Seeding is less expensive, but it can take months or even a year before your lawn looks as perfect as one that was just sodded. With either method, it is imperative that you start with good, even grading, a quality level of topsoil (this may already be present on your site, or we may need to add it), and plenty of water during the establishment period.
The Long Road to a Successfully Seeded Lawn
Depending on the exact conditions and the time of year we plant, it can take anywhere from three months to a year from the day a lawn is seeded until it's fully grown in. A lot goes on in that time, but it can be frustrating if you don't know what to expect when. Our timeline on the left outlines the major events in a lawn seeding project (click to see larger).
Let's break down this timeline. Before we can begin, the property must be properly graded, and quality topsoil may need to be added depending on the quality of what's already there. We then use a machine called a slice-seeder to put down a precisely calibrated amount of grass seed at the proper depth. Straw or another moisture-saving material is typically put down on top of the grass.
Next up is germination, which is just a fancy way of saying the seeds are sprouting. Our favorite type of grass seed is called RTF, and it can be expected to germinate 10-14 days after planting. Usually you won't see every seed sprouting at once, but if you keep an eye on your lawn it will start to look more and more green every day.
A month to a month and a half after seeding we can start mowing. In the meantime weeds may have gotten taller than the grass, but to give the new turf the best chance of survival we need to wait to mow it. We promise that in the end the weeds will be gone, you just may be stuck with them at first.
Once the lawn has been mowed, the grass is old enough that we can apply weed killer without killing the new grass. Sometime after the first mowing is also when your lawn will be overseeded. This means we use the slice-seeder again to add more grass seed, especially in areas where germination didn't go as well.
If conditions are ideal, you will have a picture-perfect lawn in 3-4 months. Ideal conditions include planting in late summer to early fall, maintaining a proper amount of moisture, full sun exposure, no disease problems, and no other extreme or unexpected events. If all of these things go wrong, it could take a year to see the lawn you want, but we guarantee you will love the final results. The best time to plant a lawn in the Indianapolis area is August 15-October 15. During late summer and early fall temperatures are warm enough to encourage growth, but cool enough not to scorch it. We get less rain in the fall than the spring, which helps to avoid over-watering and disease. Full lawn seeding is something we take great pride in here at 317 Grow. One of our favorite seeded lawns is pictured on the right less than a year after planting. Trust us with your turf, and we won't let you down! Call us at 317.251.GROW or fill out an online contact form. You can learn about our full range of lawn services on the maintenance page.