Tips from Toby: How to seed grass

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Many people put on 50 pounds of grass seed when they only need five pounds. Remember, when you seed too heavy, you are going to be seeding very often.

Just walking down the grass seed aisle can make your head spin with all the different claims and varieties on the market. The key is to identify what you already have in your lawn.

Most of us either have a fescue blend lawn or bluegrass. Fescue is a coarser, wider blade while bluegrass has more of a deep, rich color and has a thinner blade. You don't want to mix varieties in your lawn.

The most important factor to look for in a lawn seed is right on the label under "crop." Crop is the legal designation that tells you how much "other" seed is in the mix. When grass seed is produced it is laid out to dry each day and then stored again at night.

The particles that get mixed in are called crop. This can be anything from buffalo grass to weed and even a small percentage is bad. The most important factor is to look for zero crop.

Once you've chosen your grass seed the next step is to prepare the soil properly to accept the seed and create a strong growing environment. In other words, don't just throw the seed on the ground and expect success.

Use a strong tined rake and clear out any bare areas and try to create grooves to keep the grass seed from washing away during watering. Apply the seed based on the rate that is clearly stated on the bag. If you have large areas it is best to rent a verticut machine which will remove weeds or dead grass and cut small grooves in the soil.

You wouldn't try to put fifty plants in a small pot and the same is true with grass seed. Putting down too much might look thick and lush for a while but it will eventually suffocate and die out. Grass is meant to tiller and rhizome which means it will spread all by itself. You just need to have a little patience.

Once you've applied your grass seed, water it in lightly to moisten the soil and keep it moist throughout the day until you begin to see germination. I also like to apply a Fall Starter Fertilizer and also water everything in with a locally made product called Earth Right. This will help condition the soil and make for a stronger growing environment. Keep the ground moist and water daily and you'll be on track to have all those bare spots filled in and a beautiful lawn will be yours again.

When you are out shopping for grass seed remember this: always look at the label and look at crop. The crop should be 0 percent. No crop. Crop is bad.

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