LAWN -- Can you grow ACTUAL GRASS in Maryland yards?

Asked February 20, 2017, 9:52 AM EST

Last year I killed off the grass in my front yard, prepped the soil, then spread seed. But what grew back was worse than before. Now I had a front yard full of THATCH. Ugh. Being from ATL I'm used to nice cool fescue grass (not the kind that goes brown in the winter. And while I'd like to do seed, a Behnke's talk last summer said — I'd be best to do SOD. Can you PLEASE help me know what's the best DIY yard solution to have actual grass? Thanks!

Montgomery County Maryland

4 Responses

Maryland is a lot colder than Atlanta, so naturally we have different plants that grow successfully here. And, yes, as you can see around you, turf does grow in Maryland.
Tall fescue is the best type of grass to grow in sun-part sun in Maryland. Late summer-early fall is the best time to plant grass seed--and the best time to fertilize.
For a quick primer on how to grow grass in Maryland, read through "Lawn Establishment, Renovation & Overseeding": (You can also find it in our website's Library > Publications > Lawns, along with many other fact sheets about all aspects of lawn care.)

We don't see any turf at all in your photos. Since we don't know more about when you seeded, what seed you used, and how you managed it, we can't be more specific with our help. But do keep in mind 2 important things: When seeding a lawn, the seed must be kept moist in order to germinate (sprout). Also if it gets wet and then is allowed to dry out before it germinates, that kills the seed.


Wow. Thanks for the super-fast reply. :) Yep, there is no 'turf' to speak of because that close-up pic (around sidewalk + step stone) is what has consumed my front yard. Note: the front yard is on the north side of my house. I don't recall when I did the seeding but it was Scott's sun/shade Tall Fescue. Just these final questions:
1. If I need to wait till late July/Aug to re-do my lawn: A) can I do anything to remove, minimize the awful and tight-grip THATCH in the meantime? or, B) am I stuck with an ugly front yard for the next 6 months? — I'll also check y'alls link. :)
2. For a DIY person, is seeding successful? Or is sod better? Thanks!

If you do not want to wait until the late summer early fall, you will have to decide if you want to seed or sod now. Look at our publication on Lawn Renovation and Overseeding for advantages and disadvantages of seed versus sod, page 3.
Sod installation information on page 6. Sod can be laid as long as the ground is not frozen. However, you have to be able to prepare the soil in advance of the sod delivery. The site needs to be prepared for the sod which includes a soil test if not done within the last 3-5 years, rough grading, adding soil amendments and final grading. Select a certified sod produced under the supervision of the Md Dept of Agriculture free from weeds, undesirable grasses, and has fewer insect & disease problems.
No matter what you decide begin with a soil test. Results will give pH, liming, and nutrient deficiencies and can be done now.

If you decide to seed, you can use a hard rake to remove the debris. rough grade, seed, mulch with a thin layer of straw. Keep the seed bed moist until germination. . Also see Care and Maintenance after seeding. You will have to water during dry periods this summer if you seed or sod
You also may need to do some seeding this fall if you are not successful.
Here is our publication on lawn maintenance

Thanks! I'll check out the links.