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The Best Time To Start Sod or Seed

Do you have a patch of lawn that's devoid of grass? Are you converting a garden back into lawn? Have you neglected an area of grass that now needs serious attention?

mowing lawn at cedarwood coop

If any of the above fit your situation, it's time to start considering how and when you will begin your repair work. In the following article, we hope to help provide tips on making the transition from bare to luscious a smooth and effective one. Considering spring is on the horizon, now's the time to do your research to determine when and how you will fix your patch.

Once you decide whether you will plant seed or lay down some sod, then it's time to gather your supplies and get ready for tending to your grass.

When to Plant Seed

As a general rule, laying seed should happen when frost is no longer a concern and temperatures are consistently above 65°F. The warmer soil temps are just what the seeds need to begin and sustain their germination cycle. Some argue that planting grass seed in early fall is best as the soil temp is ideal for germination and the random days of hot weather in fall can encourage root growth before the freezing winter temps. However, if you are looking to plant in spring, establishing solid root growth can be as simple as keeping up with the forecast.

fresh grass planting at housing cooperative

As members of Cedarwood Housing Cooperative, being in the heart of the Midwest, this can be a tricky one. Weeks of warmer weather can quickly be met with a solid snowstorm at a moments notice. So, take a look at historical weather charts to see when, on average, the last frost typically hits, then, hope for the best. If frost does hit, killing your freshly laid seeds, wait until the frost threat is gone again, and plant some more.

When to Plant Sod

Sod, being more costly than seed, is better to lay a bit later in the season when the threat of frost is substantially gone. Again, as Midwesterners know, this could be as late as mid May. Taking extra care to track the weather as well as the rain fall can save you money and heartache down the road.

How to Plant Seed

If you're planting seed on top of an old garden, keep an eye out for "leftover" garden plants. This should be easy to spot as the sprouts of grass versus almost all other plants is very noticeable. Daily, pull the entire root body of any "foreign" plant sprouts coming up through the grass. If you're simply repairing a sparse patch of grass, this shouldn't be much of a concern.

Begin by preparing the dirt. A quick hand-tilling of the dirt may be necessary, especially if the dirt is hard, cracked or compact. Till, then gently rake the area to even out the surface. An uneven surface will result in uneven hills and dips in your lawn surface. This may not be a problem if it's just a small patch you're repairing, but if it is a substantial area, like your entire lawn, this will quickly become an eye sore.

patchy grass of lawn at housing coop in park forest

After raking, toss seed as evenly as possible. Toss more seed than you think you should to ensure a thick, solid layer of grass. Ensure the new seed gets plenty of water, but not too much as this could cause root rot and disease as the seeds begin to establish roots. As the grass sprouts begin to appear, take notice of any bare patches that may not have taken root or you missed when tossing seed. Fill in those patches with more seed and water well. The seeds should take about 6 weeks to fully grow and start looking like a lawn, but be patient. Your seed is contending with many other growing organisms, so keep giving it love, water and attention. Your hard work will eventually pay off.

How to Plant Sod

Prepare your dirt and care for your sod in the same manner as above with seed. The one major difference in caring for sod, however, is to water more frequently and thoroughly than you do with seed. As sod already has a substantial root base, it will need more water to drink and to take hold in the dirt below. Be sure to tuck in and trim around the edges of your patch or lawn border to ensure a neat finish. If some areas do not take hold, toss in some grass seed and continue to nurture as usual. Make sure, however, that the grass seed variety matches the sod variety or you'll have a lawn with pokadots!

rolls of sod for planting at cedarwood coop

Regardless of which method you use, the key take-a-ways are to: plan based on the weather, prepare the ground, and have patience!

Compared to renting, one of the benefits of cooperative housing at Cedarwood Coop is that you get to enjoy your own outdoor living space. While the co-op cares for the common grounds landscaping, mowing and fertilizing, each member gets to tend to their personal lawn area as they wish. This means that as a member, you can grow a garden, plant flowers and even plants trees (with prior approval). All this freedom at a fraction of the cost of owning a single-family home! When you're ready to experience the joys of cooperative living, call the office for details.

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