How to Take Care of a New Lawn

Weather your newly seeded lawn was installed by Hydro seed, Brillion Seed, Slice Seed or installed by hand, all newly seeded lawns should be kept wet at all times.  Bluegrass, ryegrass and fescue varieties all have different germination rates, and while you should see a "peach fuzz" of grass within 7 days of seeding, it may take as long as 4-6 weeks for ALL the different varieties of grass seeds to germinate.  During this time the lawn requires:  

Frequent light watering, water so that no puddles or run off occurs until see germinates. 
Once seed has germinated water less frequently and in larger quantities, so that the lawn received 1"-2" of water per week.  With good germination of the plant the first mowing should be 14-21 days after install.

Your newly seeded lawn will require two short term fertilizer applications.  10-14 days after install and again 25-30 days after install.  When following this program, after 4-6 weeks, your lawn is ready for longer term maintenance.

For many reasons a "thin" or "spotty" lawn may be present after seeding.  The reality is that it takes 12 full months from the time of seeding to have an established stand of turf grass.  Growing turf grasses from seed is not a one step process, and is the combination of many man made and environmental factors which require  short term and long term maintenance. See our Lawn Care Program for more information.

New Sod lawns

Instant lawn is what you get from a newly sodded lawn.  Installation and prep work is essentially the same as growing grass from seed.  Sod lawns do require a little bit different short term maintenance.  Long term maintenance would remain the same
Sod should not be allowed to sit "rolled up" for more than 48 hours and should be fresh cut from a local sod farm. 
New sod requires heavy watering the day of installation.
Sod should then be heavily watered every day for 7-10 days. 
After 10 days sod should be watered to allow 1"-2" of water per week as shown in our Lawn Care Program. 

First mowing 10-14 days after installation.
One fertilizer application 14-21 days after installation.
After 21 days sod should be on long term, Lawn Care Program.

The first few lawn mowing's may be difficult as sod has a tendency to put on a tremendous amount of initial growth, especially when properly maintained.  As a result, bagging mowing clippings for the first few mowing's may be necessary until roots are established.  After 21 days sod should no longer "pull up" from the ground as the roots become more and more established
Diagnose the Problem

Trying to figure out why you lawn isn't doing well can be a mystery.   Mechanical injury from cars, and foot traffic are common and general easy to tell.  Weeds and insects can ruin a lawn and are a little more difficult to tell depending on the time of year. Lastly and most difficult to determine are the soils.  Turf grasses like a soil pH between 6 and 6.5 and its not possible to tell by just looking at it what the pH level is.  Consider a soil test to determine what soil work needs to be done.  Soil tests are easy to do, cheap and are basically like a recipe for what you need to do to fix your soils so you can have a great lawn, or any crop your tying to grow.  Umass Amherst has a fantastic testing program for less than 100.00.
Getting Started

For a new house with no lawn and no soils your going to need a lot of top soil.  The more the better.  All lawn areas should have a least 6" of top soil.  Less than that and you will always be "fighting" with the lawn, more water, more fertilizer, more weeds.  Its money well spent and will have a big payoff long after all the equipment is gone.  For an established yard, top dressing with soil and then seeding as you likely have at least some good soil to work with.  However, check you depth, now would be a good time to get more soil in place.  Again, its more money but well spent.

Type of Lawn Installation Method

Hydroseeding, Slice Seeding, Brillion Seeding, Seeding by hand,  ways to establish grasses.  The most important factor for  seeding is get a "Seed To Soil Contact."   If the seeds are not pressed, rolled or sprayed onto prepped soil it just wont grow. All of these methods provide that soil contact.  Seeding by hand means you have to manual do a couple of steps, while the other methods are done mechanically.  When hand seeding, use a rotary spreader at the set rates, lightly rake in the seed 1/4" depth or so, and lightly role the area.  The roller establishes the seed to soil contact and is an important step.
Advanced search
Lawn Installation

Putting in a new lawn can range from just a quick overseed for a damaged area, seeding, sodding, or a total renovation with new soils, and grading.  What ever installation may be, there are many things to consider and decisions to be made.  Turf Grasses are one of the most difficult plants to grow.  They require a lot of maintenance, when compared to other plants, and while maintenance is a very important factor for a great lawn, it wont mean much and you will spend a lot more money trying to take care of lawn that wasn't installed correctly.  First things first, what went wrong?  Your going to need to figure this out so you can spend your time and money the right way.
Other factors include the "microenvironment" that are present in your yard.  A microenvironment is just a big word for a simple concept.  Your home has many shady, sunny, dry and wet areas.  These areas may be the reason why your lawn is not performing. In some cases its just too shady, too wet, or too dry or too sunny to grow grass, and is why your lawn is not growing well.  Fix those problems first and then put your new lawn in.  Things to consider for your microenvironment.

Dry Areas Consider an irrigation system, drought tolerant grasses
Sunny Areas Consider a full sun grass seed, irrigation, Shade tree planting
Shady Areas Consider tree removal, pruning, shade seed
Wet Areas Consider drainage.