Watering New Grass Seedlings

If you’re thinking of a brand new, lovely lush green lawn, a really economical way to create one is to use lawn seed. 

Beginner Intermediate Advanced

How to sow a lawn by seed

Starting a lawn can be straightforward if you remember it’s made up of living plants and, as with a garden, success comes from creating the conditions that grass likes. Choose a grass that's suitable for your climate and conditions. Most grasses are sun-lovers, so in very shaded areas it's best to choose a shade-tolerant variety like Yates Sun & Shade.

  • The best time to sow a new lawn is during the mild conditions of early to mid spring or early to mid autumn. In autumn, air temperatures are milder, but the soil is still warm, which encourages lawn seed to germinate, and the lawn will have time to start establishing before the cool winter weather arrives. However, with care, a new lawn can be sown throughout the year as long as the soil temperature is warm enough.
  • Spray the entire area with a non-selective herbicide such as Yates Zero Weedkiller. This will kill off the existing grass, so you don't end up with different coloured patches in the new lawn. It also kills any weeds.
  • Leave the sprayed area for 2 weeks, to allow all the weeds and grass to die.
  • Measure the area, so you can work out the amount of lawn seed and starter fertiliser you'll need.
  • Before sowing lawn seed, it’s important to prepare the soil first, to give the new lawn the best possible start. If the soil surface is uneven, it’s the ideal opportunity to add some soil to level it out.
  • If the existing soil is hard and compacted, loosen the surface with a rake to create a softer layer for the lawn seed to germinate in.
  • Applying a layer of 'lawn mix' top dressing is a great idea if the existing soil is heavy clay or very sandy.
  • Once the area has loose soil and is even, lightly rake the area one way to create shallow furrows. Mix the required amount of lawn seed with a starter fertiliser. Yates Lawn Fertiliser for New Lawns is ideal for this. This makes it much easier to spread out the lawn seed, adds valuable organic matter to the soil and provides the new grass seedlings with gentle slow release nutrients as they establish.
  • Spread the seed mix evenly over the area, either by hand or with a spreader, and then ‘cross rake’ (rake in the opposite direction to the first raking). Water the area gently and thoroughly, so that the top soil is moist.
  • It’s very important to keep the top 1cm of soil moist for the first 2 – 3 weeks while the grass establishes. This may require watering several times a day. The most common reason for a newly sown lawn not being successful is lack of moisture during the germination and establishment phase.
  • Minimise foot and pet traffic on the new lawn area until it is well established.
  • It's a good safeguard to put up some bird scaring devices during the germinating phase. Old CDs strung onto bamboo stakes work well. Christmas tinsel and brightly coloured ribbons fluttering in the breeze over your sown area really helps to keep bird losses under control. Some bird species (notably sparrows) are very persistent and may overcome their aversion to scaring devices if food is scarce.

Caring for your lawn

Fertilising an establishing Lawn

Regular light fertilising during the growing season is better than infrequent, heavy fertilising. Use a correctly balanced fertiliser on established lawns; Yates Lawn Fertiliser Quarterly is a premium granular lawn food designed to give you a strong, green & healthy lawn. The concentrated formula feeds more, for longer (12 weeks), using less!

Yates Dynamic Lifter Organic Lawn Food is a gentle organic fertiliser, that feeds all lawn types and improves the structure and moisture retention of the soil.

Mowing Lawn

Hold off mowing after sowing a new lawn for as long as you can bear it! Set the mower to its highest setting for the first mow and decrease it gradually over successive mows. A rule of thumb is to never cut off more than 1/3 of the grass length.

Once established, mow ryegrass or fescue blends to a height between 3cm and 5cm. For warm season grasses (e.g. kikuyu), cut to 2.5 cm. The trick is to cut as frequently as possible, but remove as little growth as possible.

Never mow grass too low or ‘scalp’ the lawn. Grasses need maximum leaf area to produce food for the plant and to shade the root system. In fact, during hot weather it's best to let the lawn grow a little longer than usual, to reduce stress.

Blunt mower blades make a poor job of cutting and will rip and tear new grass. If you look at the ends of mown grass leaves, you’ll notice little strings of fibre on the cut end where it's frayed and damaged. That’s a signal you’re overdue for sharpening your blades! Sharp mower blades make a cleaner cut and cause less stress to the grass, which helps it recover faster.

Never mow a wet lawn; it tears grass just as badly as a blunt blade.

It's best to remove grass clippings after mowing, or use a mulching mower.


While establishing your new lawn you will get some weed seed germination, but don't be too alarmed. Annual weeds can germinate alongside your new grass, but these sometimes die out on their own, or they can be controlled with an application of Yates Turfix using the directions for new lawns (less than 6 months old) from around 8 weeks.

Watering Lawn

Some lawns require more watering, depending on the situation and soil type. As a rule, cool season grasses (most popular in NZ) need consistent moisture. Fescue species need the most pampering, but the payoff comes in the form of an immaculate 'bowling green' lawn. Ryegrass species are a little more forgiving - Yates Tuff Grass lives up to its name and is reasonably drought tolerant.

Yates Kikuyu is our most drought tolerant grass variety. It's most often used where nothing else will grow; coastal areas that are predominantly sand, or where consistent heat and low moisture make it difficult to grow other types.

Water in the morning, rather than the evening and give thorough, less frequent soakings instead of short, frequent waterings. Don’t allow surface runoff.

Note. It's likely in establishing your new lawn you will get some weed seed germination, but don't be too alarmed. Annual weeds can germinate alongside your new grass, but these sometimes die out on their own, or they can be controlled with an application of Yates Turfix using the directions for new lawns (less than 6 months old) from around 8 weeks.

Related Products

Yates Lawn Fertiliser for New Lawns

Gives your new lawn the right start to encourage fast establishment of new grass, while feeding for up to 12 weeks. Contains the ideal blend of slow-release nutrients to gently kickstart your lawn.

Sow Anytime Lawn Seed

A blend of high grade seed that has the ability to grow all year round: Yates Sow Anytime will germinate at temperatures as low as 3°C. Produces a vibrant green, lush lawn.

Yates Tall Fescue Lawn Seed

A rich dark green cool season turf grass with a medium, soft blade. It is tolerant to drought, heavy rainfall and suitable for a wide range of climates.

More Lawn Tips & Advice

Winter lawn care tips

Winter’s an important time for solving lawn problems. If you tackle problems while it's cold, the lawn will be in great shape for the coming summer.

Autumn lawn care tips

Early autumn is a great time of the year to make improvements to the lawn. It’s the perfect season for seeding, laying new turf, feeding and controlling weeds.

Summer lawn care tips

Whether it’s preparing your lawn for the festive season and holidays or helping it recover from backyard games and parties, here are some summer lawn care tips to help create a beautiful lush green lawn.