Planting new grass varieties in a new or existing lawn is one practice that everyone should know how to do. Most people don't do enough of it, yet it’s one of the best ways to help your lawn stay weed-free and maintain a thick, green lawn all season long!
When we say planting grass, we mean any practice of adding new grass to your lawn. It could be through seeding, sprigging, plugging, or sodding depending on your grass variety. All cool-season grass varieties (bluegrass, fescue, ryegrass) grow from seed very consistently so seeding is a great way to grow those grasses. Warm-season grasses are usually best planted with sod, sprigs, or plugs. These are pieces of established grass that are transplanted into your lawn.
Sunday ProTip: The only warm-season grass that is regularly seeded is bermudagrass, but not all bermudagrasses can be seeded.
Overseeding. Spreading a thin layer of grass seeds across your existing yard is called overseeding. Overseeding helps replace old, dead grass, increases lawn density, reduces weed pressure and improves the root zone to prevent erosion and retain stormwater.
Patching. Fixing bare, brown, damaged parts of the lawn by prepping the land and seeding is called patch seeding. Patch seeding requires more seed per square foot compared to overseeding because there is more exposed soil to cover when patch seeding.
Starting from Scratch. Starting a lawn from scratch requires preparation, patience and time, but will allow you to manage every aspect of your lawn’s growth. From selecting the right grass for your climate to overseeing watering and maintenance to bring your grass to germination and then establishment, you’re in control.
Transplanting or Propagating Grass
Sprigging. This the planting of small pieces of grass already growing in your lawn (aka sprigs!). These pieces include the stolons and rhizomes that help grass take root in a new spot and spread to fill in areas. Sprigs are clones (same genetics) of a grass variety, so the result is a very uniform-looking lawn.
Plugging. The actual transplanting of matured grass seedlings into soil. It is different from sprigging, because you’re planting new seedling plugs into your soil, not just pieces of grass and roots from your existing lawn. The tighter the spacing of plugs, the quicker the lawn is established.
Sodding. Otherwise known as the installation of rectangular pieces of grass grown on turf farms. It is a very perishable product and needs to be kept moist and cool.
Clear Your Planting Site
Hand-pull or treat existing weeds, remove any debris off the lawn, and even out your soil by lightly raking or rototilling. If there are heavily shaded areas or tree roots that could affect planting, assess and manage these areas appropriately based on your preferences and landscape capabilities.
Assess the Area
Get to know your soil, understand what method of planting you’ll need to implement for your region, and determine how much square footage you’ll need to cover. This step will help determine how much seed or plant material you’ll need, timing of planting and what type of method you proceed with.
Plant at the Right Time
This is the most important “make-or-break” aspect of planting grass. You should only plant during periods with enough moisture, warmer temperatures (not hot), and little competition from weeds so the grass will actually grow and fill in new areas. We recommend the following planting timelines for your region:
Seasonal Bare Patches
Prep your Soil
Make sure your lawn is ready by giving your soil some love. Add a light layer of organic matter by topdressing your lawn or lightly aerating compacted or high traffic areas of your lawn to help prep your soil and seeds for best results (optimum seed germination!).
Once you have a handle on your grass type, it’s time to choose a species! Different grasses thrive under different conditions. Make sure the grass you choose to plant is right for your lawn. Consider things like the grass species you already have (if any!), temperature, shade, and moisture requirements, and how you’ll be using your yard.
Plant the Right Amount of Grass
Seeding rate is based on the size of the seed. The goal should be about 15-25 seeds/1 sq. in.
The amount of plant material you need will depend on the method used and area of the planting zone.
Watering incorrectly is the primary reason newly planted or seeded lawns fail. Watering just enough or allowing rainfall to keep the soil moist until germination or establishment is key to your grass growing. Once the seeds germinate and plants establish, reduce frequent watering to a normal watering schedule.
Best Watering Practices
Give seed time to germinate and plants time to establish and spread.
Depending on weather conditions, light availability, watering and other potential interruptions like pets or other wildlife – it can take anywhere between a couple weeks to a month or more for your grass to really start to fill in your lawn.
Generally, here’s how long species will take to start to germinate and grow:
Timing will vary depending on planting method and density.
Sunday ProTip: Not sure where to start? Our smart lawn care plan will guide you through it!
Watering is the primary reason newly planted or seeded lawns fail. Watering daily just enough to keep the soil moist until germination or establishment is key to your grass growing. Once the seeds germinate and plants establish, reduce daily watering to a normal watering schedule to avoid common watering issues.
Bring back mowing when your grass type reaches its appropriate mowing height or when you notice some lateral growth on sprigs or plugs. Cutting new grass encourages grass to spread and cover the ground and beat out competing weeds!
Once your newly planted grass has grown in, your lawn will be ready for your Sunday Lawn Plan. While it’s best to hold off until more than half of the patched area or newly planted lawn has at least 60% grass cover, our nutrients will help kickstart your revived lawn. With our sustainable, timed and precise approach to your personalized lawn care program, your new lawn and the planet will be thanking you.
Charbonneau, P. 2003. Soil loss during sod production. Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Ottawa.
Skogley, C.R., and B.B. Hesseltine. Soil loss and organic matter return in sod production. University of Rhode Island, Kingston.
Turf Resource Center. What is turfgrass sod? Turf Resource Center.