seeding a new lawn
I live in northern NJ and recently had a landscaping contractor seed my property for a new lawn. He used a harley rake to prep the site (remove all debris and make level), then spread and graded 3 loads of screened top soil so top layer is approx 3-4" thick. They then spread the starter fertililzer and seed with a rotary spreader and covered the area with hay. This was done 7 days ago, and I've been watering 30-45 min every morning (predawn) consistantly unless rain is forcasted. When I look closely at the seeded area, I noticed the seed is just laying on top of the top soil under the hay. The imediate top surface layer of top soil that the seed is laying on appears gray color/ dry, but the lower layers apprear to be moist as I insert my finger. Will this seed actually germinate? When I worked for a landscaper as a kid, I was taught to seed, then lightly rake the seed into the soil in layers to ensure seed to moist soil coverage, not just leave it on the top. The contractor said as long as the hay is there, it should be OK. Not sure I agree. I'm thinking of raking up all the hay, then re-raking some more seed in to ensure seed as coverage of top soil (like I was taught as a kid). Then re-covering area with either hay or corrigated paper pellets that expand when in contact with water. Does anyone have any guidance for me? Don't want to waste time out there re-raking and seeding....
Before raking everything up, try watering in the evening as well. The top of the soil shouldn't be dry at all when growing new grass. Wait a week or so and see if you get any sprouts. If not, I'd rake up all the hay and toss it. Then rake the existing and new seed into the soil about a quarter-inch or so, then water, water, water.
10 days ago I did that exact thing. I moved some flower beds so I leveled the area, added a compost/soil blend, then dropped down grass seed. I raked it into the soil, then dropped more down over top. I didn't use hay or any other "cover" for it. We water it in the morning and in the evening, making sure the top layer of dirt does not get dry.
I went out of town last week but when I got home on Sunday (6 days after putting down the seed), we already have new grass growing. Last night I raked lightly over the bare spots due to a huge rain storm that hit, and added more seed. It is filling in nicely.
Or even three or four times a day, depending on you local weather. Ideally, the soil and seeds should never dry out. Don't waste water by overdoing it. No need to have the soil wet three inches deep, just have it available for the new roots.
The only other thing I would have expected a professional to do would have been to roll it to ensure good seed-to-soil contact. Everything else actually sounds like a pretty good job. A point of optimism for you, someone spilled some fescue in our equipment shed, which has a good four plus inches of gravel, and there is a nice green patch right between the tractors and bobcat. So ....!
This is why fall is such a good time for doing this. You often get a rain system come through and just stays drizzly for several days in the 60's.
By the way, a state ag person once told me that the way they certify seed to a certain percentage germination- what you see on all the tags- is that they take 100 seeds, lay them on a paper towel, keep them moist, then count 98 out of 100 that germinate.
Last night I decided to extend the flower beds (my original plan, I kept going back and forth), so I had to dig up some of the new grass. I put this in the bare spots, but I was amazed at the root system - it was about 1" deep or so.
I agree with not 'over doing it'. I water our grass using the sprinkler setting on our hose nozzle and spray back and forth so I don't leave puddles anywhere. I don't like using lawn sprinklers because I think they concentrate too much on one area and we've flooded parts of our yard before. Doing it by hand is so much easier to control.
Every other day I start on one area and spray, then move to the next, and so on. Then I go back to the first area and repeat all over again - making sure the water doesn't puddle. The rest of the time (twice a day), we just water the surface to keep it wet. We do this in the mornings and in the early evenings.
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