If you're faced with the aftermath of losing a large tree and having its stump chipped out, or your water main broke and the plumbing excavator left a long strip of bare soil, or you just built a new house and it is setting in the midst of a field of dirt, you can save a lot of money by seeding new lawn yourself.
The first steps to establishing a new lawn from seed include tilling the soil to create a welcoming seedbed and grading it to get the contours just the way you want them. Be sure to remove any large clods, pieces of glass, rocks or other debris, and be sure that the top few inches are relatively loose. If your place was stripped of its topsoil, you might want to obtain some and spread it a few inches thick where ever needed.
Next you will want to choose a seed mix that suits your location and that will hopefully blend in with the existing lawn if you are just making a repair. With the seedbed prepared, you can rent a tractor and a solid-stand seeder to place the seed and pack the seedbed if you have a quarter acre or more to plant. Or, you can broadcast seed, rake it lightly, and press it into contact with the soil with your feet or a roller.
The next step is crucial … you should water the newly planted seedbed and keep it fairly moist until the grass germinates and becomes established. If you are lazy like me and live where the winter snow cover can generally be counted on, you can plant the seed late in the fall or in the very early winter before the soil is frozen solid. Rake it lightly and roll if you don't use a solid-stand planter. Now comes the easy part. Wait for the snows to come. They will blanket the seed, keep it safe through the winter, and come spring, it will be raring to go.
In any case, with a little care, a little luck and a bit of cooperation from Mother Nature, you will be rewarded with a lovely lawn that will be healthier and more robust than the one your neighbor spent a fortune installing with sod. Now pat yourself on the back, go get that hammock, and dream about how you can spend all that money you saved.
Watch the full episode! Hank shares hints like these in each episode of Tough Grit. Visit Tough Grit online to view this episode and many more. The hints above appeared in Episode 1, "The Grass Is Always Greener."
Hank Will raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper's Farmer magazines. Connect with him on Google+.