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Establishing a lawn with grass seed

Grass Clippings - Growing Grass SeedThe are many lawn care companies undertaking lawn renovations such as The Lawn Company, that may include over seeding with new grass seed to improve the turf grass content of an old or maybe a new lawn installation from bare soil.

In the case of a new lawn installation, the choice of whether to turf or seed is down to the preference of the lawn owner and budget.  Turf is 8 - 12 months old when it is harvested whereas it can take almost 6 months for newly sown grass seeds to get to the same point of maturity that turf is when it is laid.

One thing that we have learnt from experience is that lawn owners are so impatient when it comes to waiting for grass seed to germinate and establish.  It is not uncommon to receive queries from customers or readers of this blog within two weeks of sowing a lawn as to when the seed will be showing it's shoots and when might we be able to use the lawn.

If it's a new lawn installation and you want instant, then go for turf.  If you wish to wait around 3 months for seed to germinate and develop, go for seed.  Obviously an old lawn that has been renovated can only be over sown unless the old surface is rotovated and re levelled etc ready for turf.

Typically it can take three weeks for Dwarf Rye Grasses that are in a typical quality lawn mixture such as The Lawn Shop's LA3, Emerald Lawn Grass Seed Mixture to get to one leaf stage.  Two leaf stages tends to happen a week later and three leaf stages around 4 - 6 weeks from sowing.

Our British lawn grasses are mostly tufted in growth and a mature grass plant will have between 6 - 8 leaf stages.  It is as easy as counting the leaves of a new grass plant.  As the lawn owner commences mowing, this action will stimulate the development of new leaf stages and tillering and also root tillering.  It is common to relate the height of a new grass plant tip to it's root growth in it's early life cycle.  It's one big waiting and thumb twiddling game basically.

The finer grasses in the LA3 Emerald Lawn Seed mixture of the Fescue and Bent Grasses will take a lot longer to show themselves and the beauty of it is that the Dwarf Rye Grasses that are already growing quite vigorously by the time the finer grasses start to germinate, protect these finer grasses with some top cover and protection and also protection from the elements.  Really fine lawn grass seed mixtures will take a long time to germinate and develop.

Best Tip - be patient, please

Factors affecting grass seed germination & establishment

Lack of water, you may think you are watering sufficiently but is the ground staying moist to a depth?

Natural water loss from sunny or windy weather, water loss can be 50% of any rain or irrigation applied to the lawn area on a hot day and you soon get a natural water deficit

The top few inches is always the area of the lawn that dries out first in dry or windy weather and this is where the grass seed is trying to germinate

Poor quality or old grass seed

Type / species of grasses in the mixture

Dry Patch areas in the lawn ahead of renovation, it will always be these areas that require a bit more encouragement and wetting agents will help greatly

Poor nutrition at time of sowing and during establishment. Turf grasses need feeding too

Inadequate mowing practices or height or frequency

Damping Off or Fusarium Disease

Dog Urine Burns

Weeds may develop amongst the new grasses and these can be controlled once the new grasses are strong enough to accept the weed killer

Wet weather

Autumn leaves smothering the grass seeds

Excessive foot traffic or wear

Worm Casts on the lawns surface or foot traffic smearing soil deposits over the new grasses, thus smothering them


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