Fall eeding a new lawn - Knowledgebase Question

Spring Creek, Ne
Question by drderemiah
September 2, 2010
I live in a high desert area in Nevada. It gets really hot in the summer and really cold in the winter (-5 to 100 degree season changes). I need to plant a 10,000 sq ft back yard that is adjacent to a large grassy park. Sod price makes seeding my only opportunity. I've tilled in compost and Elemental Sulfur per the soil test results. How late can I plant in the fall? Got any tips?


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Answer from NGA
September 2, 2010

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Since you're already getting night frosts, I'd sow the seeds as soon as possible so the lawn can establish a good root system while the daytime temperatures are still warm. Now that you've rototilled and incorporated organic matter, you only need to rake the soil surface smooth and broadcast your grass seeds.

To ensure uniform seed coverage, use a centrifugal (rotary) or drop type spreader. Apply half the seed in one direction and the other half moving at right angles to the first pass. Lightly cover the seed by hand raking. Roll the soil lightly to firm the surface and provide good seed-to-soil contact.

Then spread a thin layer of compost or peat moss over the area. This will help conserve moisture, keep the soil surface cool, reduce erosion and surface crusting. If applied evenly and lightly, this mulch does not need to be removed.

To prevent drying, keep the top 1/2 inch of the soil moist. This may require light watering two or three times a day for 15 to 20 days. Germinating seedlings can die in a few hours if they become dry. As the seedlings grow and root, water less often but to a greater depth.

Begin mowing as soon as the grass is 50 percent higher than the desired height. For example, mow tall fescue back to 3 inches when it reaches 4 1/2 inches. After you have mowed your lawn 3 times it will be established well enough that you can apply fertilizer. Use about 10 pounds of 5-10-10 or 5 pounds of 10-20-20 per 1,000 square feet. Best wishes with your new lawn.

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