How to Grow Grass from Seeds
First, try to determine why you have a bare spot or thin spot. Example: Is it under a tree? Too shady. Is it on a hill facing south? Too hot.
Second, buy a package of the right grass seeds. Packages of grass seeds are labeled for dense shade, full sun, or sun and shade. Choose the one you need based on where you will plant it.
Third, on smaller areas, rough up the ground with a rake. Grass seeds will not germinate (grow roots) if they do not touch bare ground. If overseeding the entire lawn, have your lawn aerated instead of raking.
Fourth, sprinkle the grass seed. The package will suggest using 2 to 3 pounds per thousand square feet, but I recommend going 3 to 5 pounds per thousand square feet. Tamp the ground after sprinkling the seed by hand.
Last of all, water the seeded area. Water for 3 to 5 minutes, twice a day, at breakfast and suppertime, for a week. The idea is not to soak the ground deeply (because the seeds do not yet have roots) but just to keep the seeds moist all of the time. The second week water for 30 minutes twice a day (because some of the grass will be up now, and these grass plants will have shallow roots.) The third and fourth weeks, water for an hour twice a day (because most of the grass will be up, and some of the plants will have longer roots by now.) After the fourth week and continuing ever after, water for two hours straight, in the morning, once every seven days. A rainfall that lasts the required amount of time counts as a watering, and in September and May it rains enough that you might not have to water much at all.
First of all, although you can scatter grass seeds any month of the year and some will eventually come up, for best results plant your grass seeds in September or May. The ground temperature, the air temperature, and the amount of rainfall are just right, making September and May the best months to grow grass. A hard frost will kill baby grass, so don’t plant in April or October.
Second, know that in Wisconsin there are typically three kinds of grass in a package of grass seeds: 60% of the seeds are Kentucky bluegrass, 25% of the bag is fine fescue (not tall fescue), and 5 to 10% is annual ryegrass. Annual ryegrass comes up in five days. Fine fescue comes up in 14 days. Kentucky bluegrass comes up in 21 to 28 days. Don’t be discouraged by thinking that your lawn is not coming up after the first week. Or that it looks so thin after two weeks. Be patient. Sixty percent of your lawn is Kentucky bluegrass, which needs 21 to 28 days.
Third, when you plant, don’t bury the seeds. They can sit on top of the soil. Tamp them down, to hold them in place during wind and rain.
Fourth, if planting seeds in May or September, you do not need to cover the seeds with straw. If you must plant in July or August, don’t use so much straw that the baby grass cannot get sunlight when it comes up. Along with holding the seeds in place, straw is used merely to create shade so the seeds will retain moisture during the drought months. Four to five weeks after you have planted, rake and discard the straw, but be careful not to uproot the baby grass.
Fifth, when the grass is six inches tall (about two months after planting it), mow it for the first time, down to four inches, using a sharp lawn mower blade. Mow when the soil and grass are dry, not wet, and be careful not to uproot young plants on your turns. Last, I’d like you to know that this article is intended to help individuals who like to do things themselves. Not everyone can grow grass. It takes determination, your precious time, and patience. I recommend commercial slit seeding to everyone else who wants to grow grass from seed.
Watering is still a must.