The best time to start a new lawn is in the fall. The cool season grasses in our area will grow in cooler weather, with less weed interference. Here is our suggested method:

  1. Try to have four to six inches of good loam. Spread out evenly over the area. Mix in organic matter such as compost or peat moss, if your soil is silty or sandy.
  2. Adjust PH to as close to 7 as possible with lime. We test soil PH for free at our stores. To find out more detailed information about your lawn, have your soil tested at UNH.
  3. Fertilize with one of the following:
    • A starter fertilizer which contains phosphorous, and a low nitrogen level such as 10-18-10
    • A starter fertilizer with Tupersan (a crabgrass preventer). This is especially important if starting the lawn in the spring. Tupersan may be used alone, and then fertilizer applied separately if desired. Tupersan will give protection for only 30 days, so if you do not have good growth within 30 days you can repeat the application.
    • 10-10-10 @ 80 lbs. per 5000 sq.ft.
    • 5-10-10 @ 80 lbs. per 5000 sq.ft.
    • 19-19-19 @ 500 lbs per acre (best for large areas)
    • Many organic fertilizers provide instructions for use in new turf.
  4. Rake in fertilizer and lime with steel rake, leaving grooves.
  5. Be sure to select a seed mix appropriate for your conditions (sun, shade, etc.), and use recommended amounts. Use a mechanical seeder to do the job if possible- applying ½ of seed in one direction, and ½ of seed at a 90 degree angle.
  6. Use back of rake to smooth out the surface and lightly cover the seed.
  7. Tamp lightly with rake head, or roll lightly with roller, to make firm seed to soil contact.
  8. If hot weather, or if ground is sloped, mulch with salt marsh hay, straw, or Penn mulch. This will slow down water evaporation and hold seed in place.
  9. Keep ground damp until seeds grow 1 inch or so, and then cut back on watering (water just enough to keep grass growing). DO NOT water heavily in the fall. This allows the roots to reach deeper for water, overall strengthening them.
  10. When grass gets 1 ½ inches long, gradually remove the mulch.
  11. Until lawn has been mowed three times (mow the lawn at a higher setting than usual), do not use any broadleaf weed control or regular crabgrass control. Please feel free to call the store with questions before using any chemicals.
  12. After 30 days a second application of starter fertilizer should be applied. Consider Milorganite, or another organic fertilizer if weather is hot.
  13. Follow a good maintenance program- our guide is available here. If your grass seed mix contains Tall Fescues (such as Suburban or Builders Mix), fertilize with starter fertilizers for two years before using high nitrogen fertilizers. This will help prevent fungus problems.

As always, we are here to help. Please stop in the store or call with any questions that you may have along the way!

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