If looking out over your yard at the brown patches left by winter’s brutal temperatures isn’t enough to make you throw in the towel on growing a lush lawn in Indiana, then we may have some tips that can help.
At this time of year, DIY-gardeners have three options for replanting an existing lawn and giving it some love.
- Plug it
- Start over in the fall – the best time to replant grass in your yard
Although there’s no guarantee your lawn will improve if you engage one of the spring options instead of waiting until the fall, each one is worth a try.
Climate Zones Determine Grass Growing
In Indiana, climate zones 7 and 8 help determine what types of grass you should grow.
- Cool weather grasses – the top third of the state falls into this category. These are grass types that grow better in areas that have cooler summers and winters. Some grass types in this category are Kentucky Bluegrass, Perennial Rye and both Tall and Fine Fescue. You primarily plant these type lawns in the early spring or the late summer/ early fall since they take time to germinate.
- Warm weather grasses – the bottom third of the state falls into this category. These are grass types that grow better in areas with warmer summers and winters. Some of these are Bermuda grass and Zoysia. These grasses can be planted in the late spring as long as they have enough time to establish before the summer heat comes on.
If you want to over seed an existing lawn, be prepared to put in the time it will take to maintain it until the seed establishes. On an existing yard of Kentucky Bluegrass try seeding with a mixture of Bluegrass and Fine Fescue. The Fescue will establish faster and give the Bluegrass seed time to germinate. Here are a few basic steps to over-seed any type of lawn:
- Set your lawn mower at the lowest setting to remove most of the vegetation from the lawn. It will make it easier for the seeds to reach the ground.
- Rake the grass and top ¼-inch of soil underneath it and dispose of debris.
- Add fertilizer – apply per manufacturer’s instructions.
- Broadcast seed over lawn in parallel lines – first in north/ south direction and then in an east/ west direction to avoid missing any areas.
- Use backside of rake to spread about ¼ inch of dirt over seed.
- Cover the ground with a thin layer of mulch made from wheat straw. You can rake straw away once grass starts to appear.
- Water lightly each day until grass is 2 inches tall.
- Best to wait to mow until grass has reached about 3 inches in height.
2. Lawn Plugging
If seeds are too slow for you then lawn plugging is the way to go. A “plug” is a 2 x 2 inch piece of sod that you can use to fill in bare spots on your lawn. You will need to till up the area you wish to plant, amend the soil with compost, and then create holes using a hand held grass plugger or an aerator/plugger. Place the plugs in a checkerboard pattern and fill the holes with lawn starter fertilizer. Insert the grass plugs and pack down the ground around them to eliminate air pockets. Give the entire area a thorough watering. Check out our blog, How to Plug Your Lawn in 3 Easy Steps, for additional details.
3. Great Grasses for Indiana
Whether you over-seed, plug or wait until the fall, here is some information on the different grasses that work well in our area. We have listed which are cool season grasses and which are warm season grasses. Depending on how you plan to proceed with improving your lawn one of these grass types may offer you a solution.
Kentucky Bluegrass – This is a cool season grass
- Performs best in full sun
- Slow to germinate
- Winter hardy
- New varieties are more disease resistant
- Will need more fertilizer and water than other types
Fescue – This is a cool season grass
- Drought, heat and shade tolerant
- Requires less fertilizer
- Grows deeper roots
- Different varieties – Tall (broad leaf, clumping) and Fine (thin leaf,non-clumping)
Bermuda grass – This is a warm season grass
- Best in full sun
- Medium to fine texture
- Drought resistant
- Turns brown in winter when temperatures drop to point of frost
- Can be aggressive and will take over flowerbeds
- Need to keep in check with trimming or use of organic herbicides like vinegar
Zoysia – This is a warm season grass
- Spreads and forms dense sod
- Slow upward growth so needs less mowing
- Low water consumption
- Good for high traffic areas
- Somewhat shade tolerant
- Needs no pesticides or weed killers since it chokes out pests and weeds
- Thrives in heat, goes dormant in cold weather
Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your yard and garden projects. From seeders and tillers to aerator pluggers and more, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week. To learn more about your lawn, check out our helpful how-to guide, How Well Do You Know Your Lawn?