Step-By-Step Lawn Planting Guide

Establishing or improving your lawn can be an intimidating task. However, if you follow the proper steps you can achieve the lawn you are dreaming of.

Here is our guide to establishing a beautiful lawn.


Lawn Planting Steps

Step One: Determine Your Lawn Type

What type of lawn will you be establishing? There are several factors to consider from shade to intended use. You may even have several different sections of your lawn that fall into different categories.

General categories include:

* Generally Sunny with Irrigation 

* Hot & Dry Lawns

* Shady Lawns

**Sun & shade spots

**Full deep shade

* High traffic lawns and sports fields

* Low Maintenance Lawns (infrequent mowing)

Step Two: Select a Lawn Seed Mix or Blend

Combining grass species and varieties together helps create a uniform yet diverse stand of grasses in a lawn. When choosing lawn seed, there are two important combinations to consider: 

* Seed Mixes are combinations of two or more species of grass, such as Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass. 

* Seed Blends are combinations of two or more varieties of a single lawn species. Varieties are considered selections of a species that offer traits that set them apart from others in the species, including resistance to diseases or other stress, or perhaps improved color or hardiness. When combined, each variety offers features that contribute to a diverse stand of lawn grasses able to withstand a number of stressors and problems.

Returning to our lawn-type list above, you will want to look for seed mixes or blends that have different types of grasses depending on the lawn type you are wanting to establish.

As a general guide:

Generally Sunny with Irrigation

:** Look for mixes and blends that contain

***Kentucky Bluegrass Blend (at least two varieties)

***Kentucky Bluegrass/Perennial Ryegrass

***Kentucky Bluegrass/Perennial Ryegrass/Fine Fescue

***Fine Fescue (low maintenance lawn - infrequent mowing)

**From Rainier Seeds

***Supreme Blue


Hot & Dry Lawns

**Look for Fescues

**From Rainier Seeds

***DrySite & Sandy Soil

Shady Lawns

**Sun & shade spots

***Kentucky Bluegrass

***Fine Fescue

** Deep Shade

***Fine Fescues

**From Rainier Seeds


High Traffic Lawns & Sports Fields

**Perennial Ryegrass

**Kentucky Bluegrass

**Fine (red) Fescue

**From Rainier Seeds


Low Maintenance Lawns (Infrequent Mowing)

** Look for Fescues

**From Rainier Seeds

***Low Grow Orchard

A Note on Quality

When choosing what seed to plant, be wary of low-cost seed mixtures. They often contain un-adapted, temporary, and low-quality grasses with high weed and other crop seed or inert material. Improved seed varieties will generally cost a bit more, but within that seed lies the potential for improved lawn quality.

The performance and environmental benefits are worth the cost for a healthy, beautiful lawn. And remember, premium lawn seed is still one of the least costly products you can buy to improve the value and environment of your home and landscape.

All our Country Basic Lawn Mixes contain premium turf grass seed. 

Step 3: Choose Your Planting Season

The best time to plant a lawn in both Eastern and Western Washington is either in the spring or fall. Winter and summer seedings are possible but present more challenges.

As general rules:

* Spring Planting should be done in early spring when the temperature is consistently
between 50-75°F. Generally, this is in April-May in Washington. Freezing or colder temperatures should not harm the seed or young seedlings but may slow down the germination or initial growth by a few days or weeks.

* Fall Planting should be completed 6-8 weeks before the first traditional frost so that the lawn is established enough going into winter. In Eastern Washington, this timeframe is typically August -September and in Western Washington, fall seeding into October is acceptable.

*Winter Planting, also known as dormant seeding, should be done in late October or early November after temperatures are consistently below 60°F so that the seed does not germinate before winter and lays dormant until Spring when the weather warms up. In order for this method to be successful, the seed should be protected by a blanket of snow throughout winter. Periods of freezing then warming and freezing again throughout winter may affect the success of the planting.

*Summer Planting can be successful as long as the seed has plenty of water to germinate and allow the seedlings to get established. 

Step 4: Plant Your Lawn

1. Seed on a windless day when spreading will not be affected by high winds and heat.

2. Apply the seed with either a hand caster, a wheeled spreader, or by hand. Check out our nifty seed spreader here. Make sure you apply only the amount of seed recommended on seed labels and no more. Adjust your spreading so each pass allows approximately 10 seeds per square inch so you can make two passes in different directions (90 degrees to the first pass). After two passes you should have approximately 16-22 seeds per square inch.

3. Take an empty lawn roller or rake and lightly roll or rake the soil so the seeds can make good contact with the soil. The seed shouldn't be covered by more than 1/4" of soil.

4. If you are expecting high heat and/or winds, you may want to apply a thin moisture retaining layer no more than 1/8" of Humus or mulch on top of the seed and soil.

5. Watering: Keep the top 1/2" of soil moist. It is recommended if possible, during the first 3-4 weeks of growth water 2-3 times daily. This will prevent the seedlings from drying out.

6. Protect your lawn from people and animals that might disturb growth. You can use a string and/or fence to protect these areas until grown.

7. Do not attempt to mow your lawn until it has reached 4" in height.

8. Fertilize the lawn after the lawn has been mowed for the first time (4-6 weeks).

Special Advice for Shady Lawns

Maintaining a quality lawn in shade can be a challenge. Lawns in shade areas are typically thin, weak, and of poor quality.

In addition, lawns in shade areas generally do not have the ability to tolerate or recover from stress compared to lawns growing in full sun.

Start improving shade areas for grass growth by pruning trees and large shrubs as much as feasible to allow the maximum
amount of light to reach the soil surface. 

Red fescue or other fine fescues are the primary lawn species in shade lawn mixtures. Perennial ryegrass and Kentucky
Bluegrass offer intermediate shade tolerance. 

After establishment, care of established lawns in shade areas is different than lawns located in full sun.

**Mow higher (near inches)

**Fertilize less in the shade, as too much nitrogen can be detrimental to shade lawn species. About one or two pounds of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet per growing season is all that is needed. 

**When watering shade lawns, do so as infrequently as possible, and water deeply.

** Reduce traffic over lawns in the shade. 

If these practices have been followed but the lawn is still having trouble with establishment, there probably is not enough light. Shade tolerant grasses still need an acceptable amount of light to

Lawns in the shade often have problems with moss or shade-loving broadleaf weeds. Ground Ivy, or creeping Charlie are prime examples. 

These problems exist primarily because the lawn grasses are thin and weak, allowing easy invasion. Follow the steps outlined above to avoid these problems. 

Another option is to try a shade tolerant groundcover like mulch.