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help with starting lawn

im moving into a new house and there is only weeds in the front and back yard.  i want to know how long seed takes to grow and what the process i need to take to get it growing. i know sod is faster but it is more expensive. 

   i live the in central california. patterson ca, and i would like to start the process as i soon as i move in. please let me know what steps i need to take and what i should buy.  thank you

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Posted 2011-03-04T03:42:49+0000  by lawnhelp lawnhelp

Hi Lawnhelp,


This is Ricks Picks.  I work in the Garden Department for the Home Depot. Thank you for your question and welcome to the Home Depot Community.  Using seed will be a lot less expensive than doing sod but, the pre-work is exactly the same.  After doing the prep-work and planting the seeds, assuming you take regular care of the newly planted grass seeds, the grass should germinate in about 10-14 days depending on the weather.


Step #1-Remove all the weeds from the yard.  If you have a large front and back yard, you may want to do it in steps since you are doing it by yourself.  If the ground is dry, it will be easier to remove the weeds if the ground is damp.  The best way to remove the weeds is to use a Tiling Fork . If you have a lot of green weeds on the lot you can use a herbicide to kill them, but you will still have to remove the weeds.  It is a lot easier to remove a sturdy green stalk than it is to try to take out a brittle brown one’s, that is why I suggested using a Tiling Fork to remove the weeds.


Tilling Fork                   Honda Rear Tine Roto Tiller


 Tiling Digging Fork.jpgHonda Rear Tine Tiller.jpg

Step #2- Once the weeds have been removed, you will want to add a soil amendment to the ground.  The easiest way to accomplish this is to use a roto tiller.  The size of your lot will determine the size of roto tiller you use.  I find that the rear tine type of tiller is the easiest to use.  Your local Home Depot should carry a product called Kellogg Garden Soil or Kellogg Amend.  Both work equally well in preparing the soil for you new grass seed.  The Kellogg Garden Soil is a 3 cubic foot bag and the Kellogg Amend is a 2 cubic foot bag.  I think the 3 cu ft bag is a better buy but it is a lot heavier bag.  Once you have acquired the soil amendment, place about 3 inches of the soil amendment on top of the ground.  Use your roto tiller to grind the amendment into the ground to a depth of about 6-8 inches.   Once this is done, smooth the area out and grade it so that the water will flow away from the house.  This can be done with a regular garden rake for smaller areas or you may be able to rent a landscaping rake.  It looks like a very large version of the garden rake.

 Kellogg Garden Soil.jpgKellogg Amend.jpg

Step #3-After you have added your amendment and level/graded your lawn, this is a good time to put your sprinkler system in.  You could also do this before the area has been roto tilled but I find it safer to do it after the deep grinding roto tiller has done its job.  This way you do not have to worry about hitting your newly placed sprinkler line.  Using a trencher makes this job a lot easier and faster.  If you place the sprinkler line about 10-12 inches under the soil, you will not have to worry about hitting the lines with the roto tiller when you mix in your soil amendment. Just be sure to flag the risers before you start to roto till after the sprinkler lines have been laid. 


Step #4-Once the sprinkler lines have been installed and the soil amendment added, it is time to lay down the starter soil for the seed.  I like to use the Kellogg Topper.  The Kellogg Topper is a 2 cubic foot bag of finely sifted soil making it a good choice to use as your seed bed.  Place about a one inch layer of the Kellogg Topper over the entire lawn area.  Once the topper has been laid down, it is now time to put your seed down.  I prefer to use a Fescue because it stays green all year long and will not go dormant in the winter season.  The Fescue seed is great unless you have a dog.  The Fescue is not very tolerant of animal urine and it will burn the grass leaving a brown spot where the dog “watered” the grass.  If you are planning on having a dog, then I suggest using a grass called “St. Augustine”.  This is a much coarser type of grass and will tolerate the higher traffic and regular urinating by your dog.  The only drawback is that St. Augustine does not come in seed.  The St. Augustine does spread rather rapidly during the spring and summer which makes it ideal for putting down plugs of the St. Augustine rather that covering your whole lawn with it.


Kellogg's Topper.jpg Scotts Starter Fertilizer.jpgVigoro Starter Fertilizer.jpgScotts Turf Builder Seedng Soil.jpg

Step#5-Once the seed or plugs have been put in, place about 1/8th inch to no more than 1/4in of the Kellogg Topper over the seed.  This will cover the seed and help keep the seed damp after it has been watered.  It will also prevent the seed from being washed away when watered, blown away by the wind and eaten by the birds and insects!  It is very important that the soil be kept damp but not wet.  To accomplish this, you will have to water the lawn several times a day.   After the seed has been covered, add a Starter Fertilizer on top of the soil.  A Starter Fertilizer is high in Phosphorous which will aid your new grass in forming a new root system faster.  Water the newly planted area as soon as the Starter Fertilizer has been spread over the top of the soil.  Always water in the morning or early to mid afternoon.  During the summer months when the days are longer you will be able to water later into the afternoon but do not water at night, especially after the seed has germinated.  This can cause a fungus to attack your lawn and destroy all you r hard work.  For the first 10 days to about 2 weeks, you will be doing short but frequent watering.  After the grass has germinated, cut back the frequency of watering and increase the duration.  As the seed starts to grow upward, the root system will begin its downward growth into the nicely amended soil.  Ideally, you will want to get to a point of watering your lawn 2-3 times a week for about 20-30 minutes.  The deep rooted fescue will become drought tolerant with your deeply placed soil amendments.

Vogoro Tall Fescue Grass Seed.jpg   Scotts Tall Fescue.jpg       UD-Staugustine1.jpgSt. Augustine


It sounds like a lot of work, but it you take it step by step you can accomplish this task.  This is a great time to invite your friends over to help!  After about 4-6 weeks, you will need to mow your lawn.  Be sure that your lawn mower blade is newly sharpened so that it will "cut” through the new grass and not “rip” thru it.  Try to keep your new fescue about 2 inches tall for best results.


Be sure to take pictures of your lawn planting and share it with the rest of the community.  Good luck with your new lawn adventure and thank you again for joining The Home Depot Community.  Please let me know if you have any further questions.



Posted 2011-03-04T21:01:51+0000  by Rick_HD_OC

Hi Ricks Picks, 


My name is Steve. I read your response about starting a lawn and have begun the process but have a few questions about my specific lawn and was hoping you could help me. 


I live in Glendale Arizona and am hoping to improve my soil and grow a nice lawn in my back yard. So far I have removed the weeds from the yard and bought a soil test kit and tested my soil.  I am about to add soil amendment but wanted to make sure the results from my soil test indicate the right type of soil amendment.  The test results showed that my soil has a PH of 8.0, very low nitrogen, very low Phosphorus, and medium Potash.  I have researched that bermuda grass or tall fescue is the recommended type of seed for my area, and both of these have recommended ph range of 6.0-7.0.  So my first question is what steps do I need to take in order to get my soil ready for the type of grass that will provide me with the best lawn?


My second question is about the sprinkler system.  Is one necessary or can an above ground sprinkler be used?


Thanks for your help,


Steve from Glendale

Posted 2011-03-15T16:23:38+0000  by steve7384

Hi Steve,


It sounds like you have typical desert soil which is slightly alkaline.  A neutral soil would register 7.0 on the pH scale.  If I were in your situation, I would use the Kellogg Garden Soil if it is available in your area.  This is a completely balanced soil which can be added to your lawn area.  The more you add to your soil, the better you lawn will respond.  The Kellogg soils have Mycorrhizae and beneficial Microbes added to their soil to enhance its effect.  The easiest way for you to amend you soil so that you will have a terrific lawn would be to add the Kellogg Garden soil to your lawn area and roto till it in.  Another great choice would also be Garden Soil by Miracle Gro if the Kellogg product is not available in your area.

Kellogg Garden Soil.jpgor  Miracle Gro Garden Soil.jpg   +  Honda Rear Tine Tiller.jpg =_Freshly_mowed_lawn.jpg  



You will want to spread a 3-4 inch layer of the Kellogg Garden Soil/Miracle Gro Garden Soil over your lawn area and work it into our soil to a depth of 6-8 inches.  Your soil is not that far off so an application of a good quality garden soil will make a beautiful difference in your yard.  If you have a Farm Supply near you, you might want to check them out to see if you can obtain some pelletized sulfur. This will also help in lowering the alkalinity of our yard.  Remember that controlling your lawns alkalinity will be an on going process and may require repeated applications to keep the soil balanced.


The best time to put a sprinkler system in is when you are amending the soil.  An automatic sprinkler system will save you time and do a better job watering your lawn than you would be able to do by hand.  I have done it both ways and I prefer to have the automatic sprinkler system.  It frees up your time to be spent on other things like your raised garden beds! 


I hope this gives you the added information that you need to help you put together a fantastic looking lawn.  Be sure to keep that camera handy and take some before and after pictures of your lawn.


This has been another of,



Posted 2011-03-15T23:41:41+0000  by Rick_HD_OC
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