How to Put Grass in Your Backyard to Spruce Up Your Landscaping

Having a lush, green lawn makes you want to be outside in your yard and perhaps spruce up your landscaping, too. Learning how to put grass in your backyard is easy once you know the preparation you have to do to ensure optimal results.

Are you ready to get started?

Reasons to Have Grass in Your Backyard

Having a lush, green lawn is the epitome of a lot of landscaping themes whether it is the main attraction or a backdrop for the other features.

However, it’s not just about looks.

Other reasons you may choose to go on this route include:

  • Soil erosion prevention
  • Ease of maintenance
  • Noise reduction
  • Wildlife habitat

All are viable incentives to opt for a lawn over a rock garden or other impervious options that also happen to be better for the environment — and you!

Step 1: Choosing the Right Seedstock

Many people think of grass, as well, grass. However, there are numerous species that depend on certain conditions such as:

External factors such as sunlight hours, traffic, and neighboring plants also play a role. You also must consider maintenance. Some options require less work while still delivering the results you want.

Warm and Cool-Season Grasses

The distinction between warm and cool-season grasses refers to the climate that some prefer as well as when they begin growing after their winter dormancy. You can think of it as southern and northern species.

Warm-season grasses include:

  • St. Augustine
  • Bermuda
  • Bahia

Cool-season varieties are:

There is also a transition zone between the two regions that can tolerate both types, with the cool grasses having a slight edge.

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Shade Tolerance

Shade instead of sunlight is the limiting factor. The life cycle of the grasses supports the full sun, for the most part. However, you will find some that can handle places under trees and other areas that don’t receive a lot of direct exposure.

Don’t be tempted to use grass species that aren’t meant for your area. They will fail to thrive and leave you with the same problem — an unsightly patch of bare ground.

Traffic Effects

Some grasses are tougher and can handle a lot of foot traffic or other types of heavy use. These are the types you can use in a backyard in a home with children or dogs. Zoysia and tall fescue are excellent choices for warm and cool-season grasses, respectively.

It’s a vital factor to take into the decision process. Delicate grasses like centipede for southern regions won’t handle the traffic, which can leave your yard vulnerable to erosion.

How to Put Grass in Your Backyard with Mixtures

You can use mixtures if you live in a transition area. That way, you’ll have all bases covered since the tolerance of different species is often location-dependent.

You’ll see the percentage of each type listed on the bag. You’ll find these products labeled for particular conditions such as partial shade or shady yards.

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Using Sod

If you want to cut to the chase, you can opt to use sod instead of seed. Yes, you’ll get instant results. However, you’ll have more maintenance in the beginning until the plants set down roots and handle their moisture needs.

It’s also more expensive and labor-intensive. It makes the follow-up maintenance more imperative as a result.

Native Grasses

Another alternative is to use native grasses instead of ornamental varieties. The advantage of this option is that you’ll have plants that are adaptable to the climatic and soil conditions of your area.

That can mean less maintenance and a better chance of success in the long run. Many of them, especially prairie grass species, set down long roots of 10 feet or more. They are excellent choices if controlling soil erosion is one of your landscaping goals.

Many species grow quite tall with heights over 5 feet or more. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t mow them.

You can also forgo grass altogether and go with no-mow options like sedges, which resemble grass but are a different type of plant. The foliage is gorgeous with delicate three-sided blades that can handle the traffic.

The one downside is that your yard may appear unkempt to some people who may think that you’ve let your yard go. But, sedges are a wise choice for low spots or areas near streams or ponds. They’re also wildlife-friendly.

Step 2: Prepping the Ground

Whether you’re starting from scratch or using sod, you’ll still have to prep the ground as part of the tasks for how to put grass in your backyard. The goal is to have a level and raked surface on which you’ll either sow seed or lay down the sod.

It’s an excellent time to get rid of the weeds that would compete with your lawn. We’d also suggest testing your soil, especially if you’re planting on bare earth. You can then amend it to make up for any nutrient deficiencies or an unsuitable pH for the seed stock that you’ve chosen.

Using fertilizer will give your lawn an extra boost to help it get established. Refer to the label of your grass seed for the right blend. Use a garden or bow rake to work it into the soil and spread it all around the space.

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Step 3: Sowing Your Wild Oats

Timing is essential when it comes time to seed your lawn. The idea is to sow the grass in the season in which the species thrives. That means spring and fall for cool-season varieties and early summer for warm-season grasses.

We’d also suggest checking the weather for the few days following your proposed start date. It’s pointless to sow grass seed if heavy rain is on the way. Ideally, Mother Nature will lend a gentle hand with the post-planting care.

Using a seed spreader is an effective way to cover a lot of ground evenly and quickly. Begin at the far end of your yard and work your way back. We’d suggest covering the seed with a shallow layer of topsoil so that the birds won’t discover them.

Then, water the grass, using a light mist setting on your sprinkler or hose nozzle to dampen the ground and keep the soil in place.

Step 4: Early Care

The first few weeks following the sowing of the grass seed are critical. The first challenge is germination. The time when the seedlings emerge varies with the species and weather conditions.

The second task is watering. It’s essential to keep the young plants moist until they get at least 2-3 inches. We suggest watering in the morning to give time for the blades to dry to avoid fungus, bacteria, or mold from developing.

Of course, you should keep your children and pets off of the newly planted lawn during this time. Some species grow slower than others. Be patient, and you’ll see the top growth while the grasses also work on their root networks.

Step 5: Ensuring that Your Grass will Stand the Test of Time

The most formidable tests of the health and longevity of your lawn rest with deterring pests and providing the right care. Much of this information relates to the type of grass you planted.

The advantage of using one species is that you can tailor your maintenance to what that particular grass needs. Preferred watering frequencies will vary. You can make sure the plants get the right amount.

The disadvantage is that if the plants get infected with a disease or pest, you may lose your entire lawn if you don’t catch it early. The vulnerability is across the board.

Mixtures give you an edge on the disease front. If one doesn’t survive, another in the mix will step up to the plate. Most products contain species with similar maintenance needs to make your job easier.

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Mowing Your New Lawn

Let your grass grow until it is at least 3 inches before you mow it for the first time. We strongly urge you to only take off only the top third of the above-ground growth to avoid stressing the new plants too much.

Always make sure that the blade on your lawnmower is sharp. It’s a healthier option for the grass, and your lawn will look better too. Let the weather forecast be your guide to when you mow.

Of course, you should wait until the grass is dry, making early mornings and rainy days off-limits. Your mower will clog frequently, making it more of a chore than it needs to be. Likewise, give hot, humid conditions a pass too.

Regular mowing will encourage root development, which will ensure a steady supply of nutrients from the soil and moisture from the deeper soil layers.

Final Thoughts

A lush lawn provides the perfect backdrop for any landscaping theme. It also brings a lot of other benefits to the table, which makes it a smart choice no matter what other elements you add.

The key is beginning with the right seed stock that is appropriate for your geographical location and climate. Doing so will eliminate many of the stress factors that could interfere with its growth.

When asking how to put grass in your backyard, remember that it is a commitment to regular maintenance to keep your yard weed-free and healthy. Fortunately, it’s not hard to reap the rewards.