Seeding a lawn is the least expensive planting option. Seeding requires less work than sodding, but it will require a little more patience and care to become established.
Not all types of lawn grass can be planted by seed. Hybrid Bermuda, Zoysia and St. Augustine grasses can only be planted by laying field-grown sod that has been cut from a sod farm. These hybrids do not produce a seed that will germinate when planted, and as is usual, these hybrids come at a higher cost. However, as with Fescue grass, there are several "turf-type" seed varieties that have the same density and rich color of the hybrids, and therefore are suitable for lawn turf use in residential and commercial landscapes.
The Two Basic Types of Lawn Grass
When it comes to lawn grasses, there are two basic types: "warm season" grasses, such as Bermuda, Centipede, Zoysia and St. Augustine, which thrive and are green during the warmer months of the year, but go dormant during the Winter, and "cool season" lawn grasses such as Fescue and Bluegrass, which thrive during the cooler seasons, but slow down their growth and may thin out during the heat of Summer.
When To Seed A Lawn
Cool season lawns, such as Fescue and Bluegrass, are best seeded from early to mid-Fall, or in early Spring. This will allow your new turf to establish roots before Winter, or during Spring before Summer heat arrives.
Warm season lawns, such as Bermuda and Centipede should be seeded from late Spring through late Summer, when soil temperatures are warm enough (above 68 degrees F) to promote germination of the seeds, and given time enough to establish themselves before Winter arrives.
Planting a new lawn from scratch, and doing it right, can be a big job - especially if it's a big lawn. If the area of your new lawn will be over 5,000 square feet (100' x 50') you may need to tackle the planting in sections, or rent large equipment to plant the entire area at once. You might want to consider getting several competitive bids from local professional landscape contractors who have the experience and equipment to do even large lawn seeding jobs in a relatively short period of time. Always get several references from landscapers, and never pay for the entire job up front.
If necessary, you'll need to start by removing old turf and weeds. Weeds can be sprayed with an herbicide, or removed with mechanical eqipment. if you go the herbicide route, select an herbicide that degrades quickly (does not last long in the environment), such as glysophate (Roundup or Killzall). Mix according to the manufacturer's directions, and completely cover all grass plants and weeds with the solution. Work on a windless day, when the temperature is above 60 degrees F, and take care not to overspray on desirable plants in areas nearby - especially if they are your neighbors plants! Glysophate is a potent, nonselective herbicide that will kill or severely injure all foliage it touches. Wear clothing that covers your skin completely, as well as eye protection, when applying large amounts of any chemical over large areas. Afterwards, take a shower and wash clothing separately.
You may find that it takes several applications of glyphosate to get the job done - particularly if you are trying to eleminate common bermuda. If the turf has not completely died after 2 weeks, reapply the herbicide and wait 7 days after the last application before tilling the dead turf into your soil. Take care to follow the manufacturer's safety precautions.
If you will be removing a thick, sod-type grass, consider renting a sod cutter from your local rental store.