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Tips for planting new grass seed in Northern Virginia

I just moved into a townhouse in Northern Virginia near Washington DC and the front lawn is nothing but weeds.  It's only a small plot (12' x 12'), so I decided to rip out all of the weed before reading any of these posts.  Now I have nothing but dirt and am looking for advice on the best way to start planting new grass.


The previous owner left me with a bag of Scott's Pure Premium Sun and Shade for tall Fescue lawns as well as a bag of Scott's Turf Builder fertilizer (liquid and dry versions).  Both of these should be sufficient to seed and fertilize my lawn.  Some of the other posts recommended against planting Fescue right now, but will the Sun and Shade allow me to plant it now instead of waiting until the fall?  Also, someone recommended that I use the Scotts lawn soil to lay down first after I till the soil, then plant the seeds, and finally lay down a little more soil before using one of the green seed starter mats.  Then they recommended I water it twice daily for two weeks until it starts to grow.  Will this work?


I only have a month before I start traveling for work again, so I'd like to start something now to ensure it will be able to survive once I'm back on the road. 


Thanks for your help.  Brett

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Posted 2011-07-19T18:42:36+0000  by bbdohnal bbdohnal

Hello Brett,


I'm not sure whether you have a sprinkler system or not, but you will need that or someone to water while you are gone. Since you only have a month that  to get the seeds germinating and well watered, the Sun and Shade Mix grass seed will work fine for now.


You will rototill the soil with the soil amendment at the rate of one bag per 100 square feet, so it may be one to two bags for your area.  Rake in as deep as possible, smooth and  then add the seed.   Then add the seed cover at the rate of one bag per 100 square feet and begin to water.


Water at the rate of five minutes 3 times a day for the first week, 10 minutes 2 times a day for the second week,and the last week water one time a day for 15 minutes, in the a.m. After that you should be cutting down your frequency of watering time and increasing the length of  time you water until you are watering one time a week for a half hour to 45 minutes.

You should use Scott Starter fertilizer for the first feeding

 Use your other fertilizers after a month or two, when the grass has matured and been mown at least one time.


hope this helps,




Posted 2011-07-20T16:23:51+0000  by Gail_HD_OC

Thanks Gardengail.  Do you recommend I use the Seed Starter Mat as well?  Also, should I lay down the lawn soil above the seed as well as below the seed when I till it into the soil?  How deep do I need to till the soil?  I have a manual tiller and wanted to know if that will be sufficient.


I just looked at the area, and a lot of little weeds are starting to sprout again.  Will the rototilling and fertilizer take care of those or will it just turn the seeds over?  Should I treat the lawn with a weed killer first before adding the grass seed?


Thanks for your help.

Posted 2011-07-21T11:07:05+0000  by bbdohnal

Hey bbdohnal.


Gardengail is not in today, but I can help you out. You do not want to try to kill the weeds, for weed killer will prevent the seeds from germinating. The tiller that you will be fine, for tilling too deeply can bring dormant weed seeds that are in the ground to the surface where they can then get the sun they need to germinate, therefore if you can get the lawn soil incorporated into the first 2 to 3 inches of the ground then that will be perfect.


Once you get the soil tilled then put the seed on top of the ground and do not mix it into the soil. You can now put down the Seed Starter Mat, which will hold the seed in place while also holding much needed moisture to the seed.


The Home Depot also sells timers that can be set to water your lawn whenever you are out of town on business. They work well and your lawn will not even know that you were gone.





Posted 2011-07-21T13:08:50+0000  by Ingar_HD_ATL

Great!  Thanks for all of your help.

Posted 2011-07-21T18:52:53+0000  by bbdohnal

The grass is starting to come in nicely, but so are the old weeds.  What do you recommend I do about them?  Should I start pulling the weeds out again since they are pretty easy to spot right now on top of the grass starter mat, or should I do something else about them?  Any worries about me tramping all over the starter mat and the new grass seed to pull out the new weeds?





Posted 2011-08-03T20:13:06+0000  by bbdohnal

Hey bbdohnal.


It would recommend not walking on the young grass yet, for walking on the grass will hurt it more than the weeds will. Once the grass comes up and is cut 4 or 5 times then you can put a weed killer down, as long as temperatures are below 80 degrees. Also, when cutting this new grass I urge you to put new, sharp blades on your mower. Because the grass is young still, it still has a tender, establishing root system and dull blades can pull the grass up, instead of getting a nice clean cut.

Posted 2011-08-04T13:33:36+0000  by Ingar_HD_ATL

Great, thanks.

Posted 2011-08-04T20:32:16+0000  by bbdohnal

Here is what my lawn is looking right now.




I know you mentioned that I shouldn't walk on the new grass, but if I can walk on it in order to mow it, can I pull out the larger weeds at the same time?  For some of those bare spots, should I reseed them or just wait and see if the grass eventually comes in?  I have one week left before I am gone for a good period of time, so I wanted to make any last minute corrections.





Posted 2011-08-12T20:51:22+0000  by bbdohnal

Hey bbdohnal.


You should be OK to pull those weeds. As the grass matures the blades will get thicker and fill in. You may not need to put down more seed. I was picturing a much larger yard. After pulling the weeds soak it down with water to loosen anything you might have compacted.

Posted 2011-08-14T18:06:49+0000  by Ingar_HD_ATL
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