Greencare Gardening Guide: New Lawn From Scratch

Greencare Gardening Guide: New Lawn From Scratch


bad grass cropped

Severe lawn damage likely from skunks digging for Japanese Beetles


Some lawns just don’t grow the way they should.  There could be a million reasons (animal damage, poor soil, foot traffic… etc.), but none of them are cause to give up hope.  There are all sorts of options for recouping that lawn (and your standing with the neighbors), but this blog is going to focus on the most severely damaged lawn because sometimes you just need to wipe the slate clean and start over.

First things first though, you’ll need to find out why the current lawn failed.

Is the soil too acidic or basic?

The wrong soil can make or break your lawn.  Getting its Ph tested will give you a good idea about how well things will grow.  You are hoping for a Ph of 7, which is neutral.  Any higher or lower and you will have difficulties.  You can find additional info about Ph by checking out another article we’ve written HERE.

Can the water drain properly?

Water is very important, and too much or too little can cause problems.  It’s good to make note of how the property looks after a good rain.  If you have lots of pooled water, then your have a drainage problem.  This could be due to a lot of clay in your soil, or it may just be packed too tightly.  On the other hand, soil that wont hold on to moisture will keep your grass from getting enough water.  This is usually caused by having too much sand or too much stone.  In either case, you may need to remove the top layer of soil (sometimes more, depending on the conditions), and replace it will garden-ready loam.

Is it getting enough sun?  Too much?

The third big factor is the amount of actual light that your lawn gets.  Different types of grass need different amounts of sun.  If you have a lot of trees surrounding your property then you will need to plant grass that will be ok in shady conditions.  If you have lots of sun, that shady grass can cook on a hot day so you may want to consider something that is used to getting a lot of direct sun.  The right grass for the right light will do wonders.

Is there a lot of animal damage?

Occasionally, you will have the right combination of soil, sun and water and the grass still won’t grow.  When this happens, it’s usually brought on by insect or animal damage.  Japanese beetles will lay their eggs in your lawn and eat up all the good nutrients before the grass does, resulting in poor growth.  Skunks and other animals will come in and dig all sorts of holes trying to get at those beetle grubs and leave your yard looking like a war-zone.  The only thing you can do here is kill the beetle larva using a good pest control solution, and the skunks will keep away once their food is gone.

Starting From Scratch?

Starting fresh requires good soil, the right seed and plenty of water.  The ideal foundation for a healthy lawn (as mentioned above) is a few inches of good quality loam with a Ph that’s very close to 7.  Whether you spread it yourself or have a landscape professional do it for you, its important to make sure that this step is done correctly and properly graded so you have a nice clean area that will take the seed and keep it moist.

Next is the seed itself.  Some types of grass will grow under certain light conditions, so make sure you have the right seed for the amount of sun your property receives.  Don’t plan a full sun grass seed in an area where it only gets partial sunshine.

Planting can be done a few different ways.  We prefer hydroseed because it gives good coverage and keeps the seeded area moist enough to encourage quick germination (and its fairly inexpensive).  You can find lots if information about our hydroseed program HERE.

If not hydroseed, you can also plant the seed by hand or by using a spreader.  This method tends to be tricky because it’s difficult to see just where exactly you have already laid down the seed which can result in spotty results if some areas got more seed than others.

Once the seed itself has been spread, it will need water.  You will need to make sure that your seed is watered enough to allow for germination, but not so much that it drowns the seed.  Usually this is done for about fifteen minutes in the morning before sunrise, and then again in the evening.  Different types of grass will require different watering schedules, so make sure you are providing enough.


From here, it’s all about the watering schedule.  Make sure that your sprinklers are either on a timer, or you are going out yourself to ensure that they are running, as well as getting proper coverage to the entire seeded area.

Properly seeded and watered, your grass will need several weeks to establish a good root structure and a good hold on the soil before you can mow it.  Don’t be afraid to let your new lawn get a little longer before that first mow, the longer you give it to develop the healthier it will be.


~Happy Gardening!

The Greencare Team