There are so many options when planting grass in your yard. You have to decide which type of grass is appropriate for your climate and soil. You also need to decide when and how to plant your grass. Moreover, it can be difficult to keep costs low when there are so many factors to take into consideration.
Planting Methods: Seed vs. Sod
When establishing grass, you have two main options: to seed or to sod. Seeding is the cheapest option, but it takes longer to get results. Sod gives you an instantly plush lawn, but can rack up the cost in a hurry. The in-between option is sprigging, which is the planting of small pieces of sod that aren't connected when you lay them down.
Seeding is the most cost-efficient method, but can be difficult to get started. Seeds may not have the correct temperature to germinate, you may overwater them, or the birds could come and eat your seed. Seeding costs around five cents per square foot, depending on the type of grass.
Sodding is more expensive and can range from twenty cents per square foot to two dollars per square foot installed. However, sod tends to be easier to keep alive than seed.
Once you decide which grass method to pursue, you need to decide which variety of grass you will use. Some of the cheapest include ryegrass, bluegrass, and zoysia. However, not all of these grasses can be planted in any environment.
Ryegrass is the cheapest variety you will find on the market. While it can be annual or perennial, if you're looking to cut costs, you may want to choose perennial ryegrass because it will come back each year. Ryegrass is a cool-season grass, which means it thrives in cold seasons, however, it's best where temperatures are mild because it cannot take harsh winters or severe heat in the summer. If the conditions are right for ryegrass, it can be extremely low-maintenance. In warmer weather or climates, it will require more mowing, watering, and fertilization. You should start ryegrass in either the spring or the fall. The seeds should germinate in 7-21 days.
Kentucky bluegrass is also one of the cheaper types of grass to establish. It's relatively easy to maintain in cooler climates, but it won't tolerate heat well. It also prefers sun to shade, so keep that in mind when considering where you can plant it. Kentucky bluegrass has a high tolerance for disease and a moderate drought tolerance. It grows best during the fall, winter, and spring. In hot months, the grass will go dormant.
Zoysia grass is a little pricier than other varieties, but its hardiness when faced with certain problems may make it worth the larger price tag. Zoysia can handle just about anything you can throw at it. This grass does well in either sun or shade and has an outstanding resistance to drought and disease. Zoysia does turn dormant in the cooler months and changes to a beige color, but in most areas the colder climate will not kill off the grass. The best time to plant zoysia grass is in late May or early June.
How to Seed
In the interest of keeping things low-cost, you will probably choose to seed rather than use sod. Once you decide which type of grass you want to plant, all it takes are a few steps to plant the seed:
1. Test the soil yourself with a pH tester kit. You can test the soil at any time, but if you do it in the spring you will have time to adjust the soil before it's time to plant your grass. If you still aren't sure about your soil, you can send it off to a lab to be tested.
2. Till the area 6-8 inches with a rotary tiller. You should use a rake to smooth the surface of the soil once it's tilled.
3. Spread the seed evenly using a broadcast spreader and cover no more than 1/4 an inch. The sun needs to be able to reach the seed so that it will grow properly.
4. Ensure the area is well-watered until the seeds germinate. Water evenly about once a day.
In a matter of weeks, you should have a plush green lawn that cost you very little and is simple to maintain.