The key to successful seeding in Michigan is starting at the right time. While planting new grass seed in the spring can be successful, waiting for late summer to early fall will give you the best results. Beginning late in August, the soil remains warm and the air becomes cooler creating the ideal situation for seed germination and seed growth. Before planting, prepare the area by mowing any existing grass at your mower’s lowest setting to allow the seed to reach the soil. Rake over the area with a metal rake to remove any thatch, rocks, and any other debris. Apply the seed using a hand spreader or rent a rotary spreader from Farmer John’s for a $10 returnable deposit. Check the product specifications for settings.
Be sure to know the sun exposure for the area you are seeding to pick the best grass seed for your lawn. Lawn seed ranges from dense shade to full sun. Sun and shade blends (4-8 hours of sun) are the most popular. Picking a grass seed specially bred for fall seeding, like Fall Magic by Jonathan Green, is optimal for quick, long-lasting results. Pair the Fall Magic with a fertilizer like Green-Up for Seeding & Sodding. The only time you want a lawn fertilizer rich in phosphorus is when seeding to help develop the root system.
Mulching with a thin layer of straw enhances seed germination. When seeding in the fall, leave the mulch during the winter. A thin layer of mulch can be left to decompose. Frequent light watering (2-3 times per day) promotes germination. After you begin to see grass growing, decrease the frequency of watering, but increase the amount of water you give to encourage deep rooting.
Hold off on mowing until the new grass has reached 3 inches tall. Waiting till fall to plant seed gives you the chance to get rid of any unwanted weeds before planting. Do not plant grass seed within a month of applying a weed killer as the seeds will not germinate. A rule of thumb for treating weeds after planting grass seed is to wait till you have mowed the new grass four times.