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How to Grow a Healthy Lawn :: 5 Secrets to a Beautiful Lawn


Last year, you followed along as I visited Pennington’s NexGen facility in Oregon, and you followed along as I received results from growing experiments there (first – 1-Step Complete, then – Smart Seed).

You saw me Seed a New Lawn for Mrs. Moxie’s 1st flip. (A sorta after pic below.)

Mrs. Moxie Flip Front Yard :: Before

Timothy Dahl | Charles & Hudson, Ross Nicholson | Pennington Seed

Mrs. Moxie Flip Front Yard :: After(ish)

Basically, you followed along as I grew grass. And I shared what I learned from the trip, plus my winning tips … already, for growing grass from both seed as well as with a mulch-type product like Pennington’s 1-Step Complete >> (Lawn Care Tips with Pennington Seed).

So … In an effort to avoid ground I may have already covered, I decided this year to recruit in some new blood. I asked new(ish) new friend and fellow blogger, one half of the team at The DIY VillageMatt Knowlton to share pics and his patented secrets behind a beautiful, healthy lawn.  (More on this soon and thanks to Jacque for the pinnable image below.)


How to Grow a Healthy Lawn

How you seed can be broken into one of three areas, and which circumstance you encounter often dictates what type of product you need.  We’ll call these areas: new seeding, re-seeding (or overseeding) and (bare spot) repair.

In all cases, when working with a product like Pennington’s Smart Seed, you will prep the soil – raking it to a smooth surface, you will fertilize – in some cases testing and amending the soil (often with lime or gypsum), and you will plant seed – incorporating it to a depth of about 1/8” and raking over it only to cover.

We then water. We keep the lawn moist until seedlings are established and watering only as needed thereafter.  And really, at times, it is what this entire conversation seems to be about ….

via Matt Knowlton


According to Pennington, 2012 ranked as the warmest, and one of the driest, years on record. Faced with these obstacles, do-it-yourselfers and landscape-aficionados alike are looking for landscapes that can be kept lush and beautiful, while being more resilient and easier to maintain.

In response (it seems) – Pennington has produced a Smart Seed that is said to remain green for up to three weeks without water, requiring up to 30 percent less water year after year versus ordinary seed. They say too, “As a pure bred, drought-resistant seed, Smart Seed helps establish fuller, healthier and greener lawns, while efficiently using natural resources.”

via Rachael Jones

Along with producing high quality seed, I feel that Pennington has always done a fantastic job of educating their users on the “right way.”  Pennington for this post offered a set of ten water saving tips (some of which I will share in a future post). For now, I’ll pick three “common sense” tips that can go a long way when watering our lawns.  

Pennington suggests: Watering  at night or in the morning to reduce the chance of water being lost to evaporation in the mid-day heat; Plan around wind: Limit evaporation and water being blown outside landscape areas by watering on windless days; and Broom clean: Instead of using a hose to clear debris from walkways and driveways, use a broom to tackle those types of projects and save water in the process.

via Matt Knowlton

And now, Matt Knowlton’s …

5 Real Life Secrets to a Successful Lawn

1) Damage assessment

Take a good look at your yard, see what’s there. Take note of types of grass, any existing weeds, and any other potential problem areas.  Knowing these will help you decide on a plan of attack. Having a soil test done could also help to get you headed in the right direction.

2) Know your enemy

Weeds don’t always have to be “weeds.” If you’re like me and have a fescue lawn, then a patch of Bermuda grass is for all intents and purposes, the same as a weed. Several measures can be taken to handle various weeds such as pre- and post-emergent herbicides, manual removal via pulling, or the ‘clean slate’ technique – which is kill it all and start anew.

3) Time to Seed

Once you’ve got the weed situation taken care of, it’s time to seed so your efforts don’t go to waste. The thicker and fuller a stand of grass you can get, the easier it is to keep weeds out.  I’ve found that seeding with Pennington’s Smart Seed Fescue/Bluegrass Mix has yielded my best results.  Just remember, if you’ve put out a pre-emergent herbicide, you’ll want to read the manufacturers recommendations on how long to wait before putting out seed.  Most require 12 weeks to pass before seeding, but there are some that require less.  Make sure to wait the recommended period of time, otherwise you may just be wasting your money.

4) Nurture it with food and water

Food is fertilizer and water is, well, water. Not enough or too much of either of these can cause the grass to become susceptible to damage and disease. Knowing how much fertilizer to put out can be determined by the previously mentioned soil test. Watering will vary based on your environmental conditions; I’ve found that in east Tennessee, watering for roughly 20 minutes (per zone) 3 times a week has led to a stronger and deeper root system, rather than watering for shorter periods of time on more days.  By having a strong root system, your grass is less susceptible to wilt and less likely to suffer during drought-like conditions.

5) Keep it maintained

Most people think of maintenance as just mowing. It actually involves everything we’ve talked about, plus occasional aerating, de-thatching, and even top-dressing. But if your main focus is mowing, then here are a few maintenance tips to keep your lawn healthy and looking good!

Hopefully these tips help in guiding you towards a healthy and enjoyable lawn. Keep your lines straight and happy mowing. ~Matt

The Power of OverSeeding

What Matt refers to it as “top-dressing” above, others might call “overseeding.” On this topic, Pennington adds: “There are many benefits to reseeding, or overseeding, every year. Overseeding is just what it sounds like – sowing seed over existing grass in order to fill in the bare patches. Therefore, overseeding lawns makes sense only if the existing grass is healthy enough and abundant enough to be worth keeping. Often, this is an overlooked activity. Homeowners assume, incorrectly, that fertilizers are all that is needed. Even when well maintained, spot or general lawn reseeding is necessary to maintain long-term health and beauty. Lawns can thin or weaken due to a range of issues, but overseeding thickens and strengthens your lawn.”


That’s it for today, Pennington can be found online @, on Facebook @ and on Twitter @

Please check my Pin board :: Building Moxie Does Lawn Care 101. I’ll be back soon … with this season’s Moxie lawn project – Tips for Overseeding and Watering the Lawn.

But a gutter, downspout and rain barrel (to manage water runoff) had to be added first.



For more on Overseeding as a key to a successful lawn, see this article from Pennington themselves – Overseeding: A Key to Beautiful Lawns. For much more from us on Lawn Care, see our category – Lawn here.

Disclosure Statement
This was originally a partnered post with Pennington Seed.

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