Whether you’ve just moved in to a brand new house with a barren, dusty yard or have lived with a less-than-satisfactory lawn for years, now’s the perfect time to plant anew. The task may seem daunting, but seeding is easier than you ever imagined, and the least expensive option to provide you with the lush, even lawn you’ve always dreamed of. Do some research to identify the best grass type for your climate and soil type. If you have an established lawn that isn’t all it should be in spite of proper care, consider replanting with a more suitable grass type.
Test your soil. Testing kits are available, or you can use litmus paper. Have your soil’s fertility tested by your state's cooperative extension service or a commercial soil-testing lab. Visit your local nursery to determine your lawn’s needs. If the pH levels are below 7, you’ll need to add lime to your soil as well as a nitrogen-based fertilizer.
If you live in most regions of the United States (that is, anywhere but the South), you’ll want to seed cool-season grasses in late summer or early fall, when upper soil mean temperatures are 68 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. This will allow your new turf to establish roots before the dormant winter period begins, while plant growth is vigorous and competition from weeds is at its lowest.
If you live in the South, the time to seed is spring or summer, using warm-season grasses. The temperature of the upper soil should be 68-95 degrees Fahrenheit. Consult with your local Cooperative Extension Service to find out the best timing for seeding these grasses.
Water thoroughly and only when needed, when the grass begins to wilt, the color dulls and footprints stay compressed. Time how long it takes for the water to penetrate four inches into the soil. Water only in early morning or evening.
Sharpen your mower’s blades frequently to get a clean cut, and never mow when the grass is wet. Cut no more than 1/3 of the grass’s length at a time.
Aerate your soil to clear out thatch, the dead, undecayed material at the soil line. This material adds to a number of lawn problems.
Your soil's test results will indicate specific organic fertilizer recommendations. Although you can spread fertilizers by hand, you'll get more uniform coverage with a spreader.
Finally, use herbicides and pesticides responsibly.
Prevention is key. Take out the trash. Improve drainage. Clean up food and water spills immediately. Repair plumbing leaks. Seal cracks and crevices in walls and floors. Seal cracks in driveways and sidewalks. Repair torn window/door screens.
Ants: Eliminate trails between the nest and food and water sources. Get rid of piles of wood, bricks, or other debris. Seal all cracks in your house’s exterior. Trim tree and shrub branches so they don’t touch the house.
Cockroaches: Find and treat the roaches’ microhabitat directly. Usually, the services of a professional exterminator will be required for long-term control.
Crickets: Don’t use heavy ground cover in landscaping within 10 feet of the house. Store firewood and lumber away from the house. Seal exterior cracks and holes. Install yellow bug lights in outdoor fixtures.
Mice: Seal off and clean up any potential habitat. Seal holes and cracks 1/4 of an inch and larger – if a pencil can fit into the hole or crack, so can a mouse. Install thick weatherstripping on the bottom of all doors.
Spiders: Seal cracks around windows and doors. Remove spider webs regularly. Use yellow bug lights outdoors to attract fewer flying insects on which spiders feed.