You’ve spent a few hours seeding your lawn.
The job is done, and all that remains now is for the grass to grow.
While you wait for the lush lawn of your dreams to appear, you can walk on it like normal, right?
Not so fast.
Grass seeds (as well as germinating sprouts) are extremely delicate, and they remain so for some time after seeding.
All in all, you will need to wait a minimum of 4 weeks before stepping on the grass again, and more ideally, 6 to 8 weeks.
Read on to understand the best ways to protect your lawn after seeding and determine when you can walk across your yard again worry-free.
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Though you may not be able to see your grass seeds under a layer of soil, they are there.
If you walk over them, you risk crushing them with the weight of your footsteps pushing the soil down.
In fact, seeds that have just begun to sprout are at their most vulnerable stage, and must be treated with great care.
Seeds begin to sprout between 7 and 21 days after planting, depending on climate, soil, and grass type.
Consult with a local garden store to find the best grass variety for your area and needs.
During this sprouting period, even light foot traffic can spell the end for your grass by damaging or ripping up seeds and roots.
This can result in bare patches in your yard later on.
Aside from looking unseemly, these bare patches also invite weeds to take over, which will eventually force your grass to compete for precious resources like sunlight, water, and soil nutrients.
It’s also important to keep the yard moist (but not soggy!) when newly seeded.
Depending on your climate, you may need to mist or water the seeds multiple times each day.
If you are not able to reach all parts of your lawn by spraying from the perimeter, a sprinkler can offer a safe way to water a large area without stepping onto the fragile seeds and sprouts.
Make sure that you set up the sprinkler before seeding, so you don’t defeat its use by walking over the grass to place it.
Time to Grow
You might think that once your grass has visible blades, it’s okay to walk on the lawn again.
First of all, grass should not be mown at all until it reaches 3.5 inches in height.
Letting grass reach this height allows the roots to strengthen, so that your lawn will be well-established and hardy.
At this point, you should mow it to no shorter than 3 inches.
But, you still shouldn’t walk on it after that first mowing.
Before your lawn is ready for foot traffic, you should mow it 3 to 5 times over the course of about a month, mowing about once per week.
Make sure you go slowly and ensure the blades of your mower are sharp, to avoid ripping out your new grass.
Waiting through this mowing period gives your lawn time to grow a deeper, stronger root system that will allow it to thrive.
While you can walk on it after 3 mowings, waiting to complete 5 mowings will ultimately result in a healthier yard.
Protect Your Lawn
It’s one thing to avoid walking on the lawn yourself, but it’s also essential to prevent kids and pets from damaging your delicate seedlings.
Do not allow children or pets to play on the lawn while the grass is growing–instead, enjoy long walks or visits to a nearby park.
To keep your grass in good health, take dogs elsewhere to relieve themselves, too.
The less disruption to your grass during this growth period, the better the health of your lawn will be in the end.
If you aren’t certain you can keep pets and children off the grass, or if you live in an area with a significant amount of wildlife, you might consider putting up temporary fencing to protect the newly seeded areas.
A simple barrier of deer netting can prevent unwanted traffic from animals, both pets and wildlife.
Deer netting can also remind friends and family members not to step onto the lawn.
A lightweight barrier like this is easily removed and stored once the grass has finished growing.
By following this advice and keeping a timeline of at least 4 weeks before you walk on your new grass, you can maximize your chances at having a healthy and hardy yard to enjoy!
While it takes some patience to give your lawn time to grow, the short waiting period is worth it to have a quality yard in the long-run.
By giving your grass time to form a strong root system, you will create a beautiful and verdant yard in which you can relax, play, and work for seasons to come.