5 Grass Growing Mistakes & How To Avoid Them

All grasses belong to the Poaceae family which contains over 12,000 different species.

With a number that large, it’s helpful to break them into groups where the majority will be forages. But some will be edible – like wheat, barley, and rice, and some will be shrubs – like ornamental and fountain grasses, and even some take the form of trees – like bamboo!

Grass is so prevalent everywhere that most of the time we forget to stop and examine how awesome it is and the benefits it brings to humanity.

John James Ingalls talked about the miraculousness of grass when he said,

“Grass is the forgiveness of nature; her constant benediction…Forests decay, harvests perish, flowers vanish, but grass is immortal. It yields no fruit in earth or air, and yet should its harvest fail for a single year, famine would depopulate the earth. Grass softens the rude outline of the world. Its tenacious fibers hold the earth in its place. It invades the solitude of deserts, climbs the inaccessible slopes and forbidding pinnacles of mountains, modifies climates, and determines the history, character, and destiny of nations.”

The Unique Benefits of Grass

As a lawn care contractor, we specialize in turfgrass and growing lush, green lawns in Pittsburgh. It’s a beneficial role when you consider that “The front lawns of eight average houses have the cooling effect of about 70 tons of air conditioning, while the average home-size central air has only a 3.5 ton capacity.”

Grass cools us down, cleans the air, reduces noise pollution, and improves wellness on top of a host of other benefits – like giving us a place to play soccer with our friends.

Who doesn’t want to come home to a flawless and welcoming lawn? It will impress your family and friends alike—making your yard the coveted place for a barbecue or an afternoon in the sunshine.

Since grass does so much for us, we thought we’d do grass a favor and help prevent a few of the most common mistakes people make when trying to grow grass in their lawns.


Mistake #1: Inadequate Soil Preparation


In order to grow, seed needs to make direct contact with soil. By just throwing grass seed outside, it won’t germinate.

There are a few ways you can ensure seed to soil contact including raking and aerating. If you have a small trouble spot, like an area where a dog urinated, you can use a potato fork or a rake to dig up that area. Be sure to remove all the dead grass in that spot and get down to the soil level.

For larger areas, we recommend core aeration.

Core aeration is the process of taking small plugs out of densely compacted soil—i.e. your lawn after a long summer of enjoyment. The plugs are then deposited on the surface. After the plugs are pulled, grass seed can nestle in and find areas to sit back and start their growth process!

[Read More: Types of Summer Lawn Stress]

The benefits of aeration don’t stop there however.

Aeration also helps break down thatch – a layer of dead grass. A thick layer of thatch prevents the sunlight and water from reaching the roots of your grass. Allowing the thatch to break down into a thin cover, releases nutrients back to your soil, and is ideal for the growth of your grass.

The amount of moisture in your soil is important, because as you can imagine, pulling plugs of soil in dry conditions becomes difficult. We recommend watering your lawn thoroughly 3-5 days prior to aerating to ensure the tines on the machine can reach a depth of 2-3”.

Mistake #2: Seeding Improperly

Overseeding is the process of laying grass seeds on your lawn. Most lawn experts recommend seeding immediately after core aeration. Introducing grass seed to your lawn will make it fuller, greener, and more competitive against weeds in the coming growing season. You can enjoy watching your grass green up in the spring without having to worry about treating your lawn for weeds nearly as much as last year.

Though it sounds simple enough – lay down some seed – there are a few errors that people commonly make.

Applying seed at an incorrect rate

When you check a bag of seed, it will tell you the recommended rate to apply. This rate is calculated as “pounds of seed per thousand square feet of area”. Established lawns typically require 3-5 pounds whereas bare dirt may need 7 pounds. So, if your lawn is 10,000 square feet and the label recommends 5 pounds of seed per 1,000 square feet, you’d need to spread 50 pounds of seed. Most seed bags come in this size, but always account for trouble spots.

Not considering trouble spots

Trouble spots are areas that grass can’t consistently grow in. It may be best to try a different grass blend in that spot – such as a shade blend in the backyard under large, mature trees. You also may want to come back periodically and add more seed to those spots if they dry out easily.

Neglecting After Care

After the seed is spread, you don’t want to rake until the lawn is established. You could damage the root zone and pull up the baby seedlings. On the flip side, not removing the leaves could be just as hazardous as they can suffocate the seedlings. And considering that up to 90% of the weight of a grass plant is in its roots – we want to make sure that the foundation is strong.

Mistake #3: Over or Under Watering

There’s only three ways you can water – over, under, or just right. Here’s a couple tricks when it comes to watering grass.

New Seedlings
  • You don’t need to water immediately, but once you start watering, you must keep the soil moist at all times until the seedlings establish.
  • The ground should be damp, but not soaking wet.
  • There should not be so much water that there is runoff.
Established Lawns
  • Water until the top 6-8 inches of soil is wet.
  • Most lawns need 1 inch of water per week.
  • Water in the morning, before 10:00AM.
  • Check your watering schedule seasonally by using the screwdriver test or a soil probe.
[Read More: Watering Tips For Healthy Plants Year-Round]


Mistake #4: Improper Fertilization


Applying products to your lawn can be a scary undertaking if you’re not sure what you’re doing or haven’t had much experience with it. After all, over fertilizing can cause browned out burnt spots in your lawn and may be harmful to the environment. The number one rule is to always read the label. Here are few other rules of thumb to help guide you.

If you recently planted new grass seed, you should apply a seed starter fertilizer that will boost the new seedlings germinate faster and achieve maturity sooner. Then, late fall fertilization is beneficial for root development and will give your lawn an early spring green-up next season. We always recommend a slow-release fertilizer as they don’t need to be applied as often and tend to provide a more even-color green instead of striping.

Stay away from weed control after planting seedlings. Refer to the label, but we recommend not applying any more weed control for the rest of the season to allow the seedlings to do their thing.


[Read More: FAQ About Pittsburgh Lawns]


Mistake #5: Not Doing Your Homework


Any time you take on a project in your lawn or in your landscaping, it’s important to get accurate measurements and dimensions. This will allow you to get your seeding rate right, the fertilizer rate correct and save you from wasted time, wasted money, and poor results. Make sure you get proper measurements from the start, deducting your home, patios, walks and driveways.

Even though you may do everything right – according to these guidelines, you may find that some areas simply won’t grow seed. The reasons could be poor soil or drainage, too much sun, too much shade, too much pet traffic, etc. Before you begin seeding, take these areas into account and check with an expert.

They may recommend starting with a pH test in these areas. Also consider the obvious fixes such as limbing up trees to allow more sunlight in, filling in a low spot with soil, or getting rid of your dog. (Just kidding! We love dogs!)

Overall, make the best use of your time when it comes to your lawn. If you choose the DIY aeration path – talk to your neighbors about renting an aerator on the same Saturday and splitting the cost. If not, reach out to a few pro’s and get their recommendations on your lawn.

Let us help!


Dream Greener offers a free lawn analysis where you can learn more about the type of lawn you have and the recommendations our experts suggest to have a lush carpet to walk on in with bare feet.

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Our service guarantees are:

  • Responsiveness to existing and prospective customers: Site visit, email, or phone call in 24 hours or less.
  • Reliability that our customers can count on: We’ll say what We’ll do and We’ll do what we say.
  • Responsibility for the quality of our work: We hold ourselves accountable to you — you can, too.

Our business has grown because of our customers’ word-of-mouth recommendations to family, friends, and neighbors.

Our company continues to flourish because we satisfy and delight our customers with levels of service and communication far exceeding the rest of the industry.

View Customer Testimonials


The Dream Greener crews have cleared the snow and ice off my driveway for three years now. They've always done a great job and are always timely. The emails they send to communicate the plan for snow removal for each storm are always appreciated and if they come in the middle of the night (as they often do) I've always wondered how they get the work done without waking me. Additionally, this company has taken care of my yard maintenance for four years. This includes mowing, edging, maintenance of the planting beds (including mulching) and leaf removal. Always a great job, always show up when they say they are going to and never a problem. I rarely write reviews, but this is a company worth recommending and I so so highly.
Herman Maestas
16:51 01 Feb 18
We recently contacted Dream Greener to do some grading and reseeding work. Additionally, we had drainage installed around our shed. This company was very responsive and pleasant each time I contacted them. Jon came out to take a look at the property and talk with me regarding our needs and then quickly sent us an estimate. The price was very similar to other companies we had give us an estimate. On the day of the work, Jon came out with the crew and walked through the plan. The team worked diligently the entire day and tidied everything up when they left. Jon followed up to make sure that I was satisfied with the work done. A follow up email was sent to provide us with watering instructions for our newly seeded areas. Now I am tending to my "baby grass." We are very happy with the work; the yard already looks so much better. We are already thinking about additional projects to have them help out with!
Jamie Turer
18:58 14 Aug 17
Our landscaping beds were a mess. Dream Greener came out to evaluate the situation, made some suggestions for alternative approaches, and broke down the proposal into sections so that we could do the pieces we could afford. While not the lowest, their prices were very competitive, but, more importantly, both the service and the outcome were superior. People actually stop at our house to tell how terrific our landscaping looks. I've never had THAT happen before.
Rebecca Bowman
16:06 06 Nov 17
I don't leave many reviews for businesses, but this one is worth the exception. Over the past four years I've had some fairly disappointing interactions with a number of landscaping companies. Missed appointments, poor communication, subpar work.. the list goes on.Dream Greener is absolutely amazing. Even compared to other excellent companies, I think they really manage to stand out. They follow up 100% of the time, when they say they will. If you have scheduled services performed (I do- mowing and basic grass upkeep), they show up on time, work quickly and the product is excellent. On at least one occasion, I didn't even realize they were there- Lawn Ninjas!Moreover, when they do additional work (for example, using a weed killer) they leave a note detailing the work performed and any additional care items. If you have scheduled work, they keep you in the loop as to when the work will be performed, and then send you reminders immediately before. The kicker in all of this is: They are priced very competitively. They're also very honest about their pricing- when quoting some work they even suggested that I might be better off working with another business for the work and provided a referral. I highly recommend!
Christian S
18:56 12 Jul 17
We had several companies come out for estimates and design. We decided on Dream Greener because of their professionalism, customer service, great attitude, and pictures/reviews of the work completed.The children and I were out when the work was completed and my little girl was mesmerized. She said it was a princess yard now! My wife drove past the house a few times just to admire the work. In one day I've had 4 neighbors ask about the work, and multiple compliments on the pictures we posted. We are in the process of moving (we had scheduled the landscaping prior to finding a new house) and when we move I will be using them to landscape the new house. We couldn't be more pleased with the work and with the care they gave to our home.
David Bliss
12:33 26 Apr 17
I've used Dream Greener to handle my complex and expansive landscaping for two years running now. They do an amazing job with all the bushes, trees, shrubs and flower beds. They are always professional, cost-effective and I wouldn't go with anyone else!
Verle Haines
18:09 02 Apr 18
We started using the Dream Greener crew not long after we moved into our home. Over the last ten months our lawn has made incredible improvements thanks to the wonderful job the crew does every week. It's absolutely one of the best lawns on the block now. They are extremely clean and efficient and take very good care of our property. Based on the great job they do, we are planning to use them for some other landscape work that we need done. I highly recommend them for any lawn care and maintenance jobs.
Benjamin Lindsey
20:12 09 May 18
We built a home and the lawn they gave us was awful. Jon and I mapped out a plan and knew it would take 12-18 months. We are now 36 months in and out yard is spectacular! Thanks Jon!!
Wade Wilson
19:51 14 May 18
Responsive, on time and great attention to detail. The entire time worked tirelessly until the job was done. Exceeded our expectations and will absolutely use again.
Sarah M. Kreinbihl
19:41 23 May 18
Dream Greener did a fabulous job on spring cleanup in our yard. The beds, edging and hedges look wonderful!! Thanks for your prompt service. #Thistlenomore ??
Patty Conlon
11:34 15 Jun 18
We had an incredible experience with the entire Dream Greener staff on our recent project in June of 2018. With a larger scale job, we relied on their expertise in both the design and creation of our entire front yard landscaping. We were very pleased with the outcome and the efficient work of the team. The Dream Greener staff did more in a morning than I could have possibly done in an entire summer. Thanks again for your top notch service.
Jeff Brancolini
17:37 02 Jul 18
Wow! We just had Dream Greener install a completely new landscape around our entire house last week. It is absolutely gorgeous! Our neighbors even ran over as soon as the job was finished to tell us how beautiful it is. Our job involved a lot of work too, since we had stones instead of mulch. Everything had to be pulled up and taken away. The crew got the entire job done in less than 2 full days, absolutely amazing work. I would highly recommend their services, we couldn't be more pleased and impressed!
michele tommarello
20:35 03 Jul 18
Great company! Very reliable and they always call back quickly if I miss them in the office. Maria does a great job answering my questions and the crew always shows up with a smile when they mow my lawn. I've contracted Dream Greener for a year now and it was one of the best decisions I've made. They mow my lawn, mulch the flower beds, plant new flowers, and trim my shrubs. They always do a great job, I highly recommend them!
Sarah Ferano
17:28 12 Jul 18
I've been a customer for 3 years and each year their team's responsible and efficient work amazes me! Jon always keeps in touch and makes sure that I am happy with the work. I had them install a landscape 2 years ago (and they touch it up) and I still get compliments from people about it! I highly recommend you try them out
Kylie Wilson
17:18 12 Jul 18
Last spring I hired Dream Greener and I was very pleased with their work. They were very professional and did a great job! I now use their snow removal and mowing services as well, they always do amazing work
Emily F
17:36 12 Jul 18
John and his team at dream greener are amazing. I went through no less than 6 landscaping companies before I came Upon dream greener. I do not have an irrigation system but my lawn looks as good as the neighbours that have sprinklers. I would highly recommend dream greener to anyone who wants to have the best looking lawn and landscape in their neighbourhood.
Joe Lamphere
23:13 02 Aug 18
Oh My Goodness!!! What an amazing job done on our property yesterday. I have to keep going outside to marvel at the difference!!! Thank you. Thank you. This company does what it says. I’ve had previous landscaping services and NO ONE did the beautiful job that they company has done—-and the icing on the cake is the fair price that they charge.
Dayl Jewell
00:48 09 Sep 18
I highly recommend Dream Greener ! My yard looks absolutely amazing . I have had so many different landscapers and the job these guys did was unbelievable. They are so dependable and meticulous . I can truly say this was money well spent . In addition , everyone is so nice and professional.
Amy Belmear
05:13 18 Aug 18
Earlier this summer we were searching for help handling our landscaping issues. We hired Jon and his Dream Greener team and are very pleased with their work! They are very professional and did a great job! We will certainly call them again for any future needs.
Keith Yanda
11:46 24 Oct 18
I love that they are all inclusive from snow removal to lawn and landscaping!Jon has been wonderful to work with, very professional!Loving the results of their work!
April Betz
18:16 16 Apr 19
Hired them earlier this year and they were great! My lawn looks better than before! Definitely would recommend!
Bryan Quintanar
02:00 25 Apr 19
I am a little surprised about negative reviews. I had a very good experience with these guys. Fist of all, they are very professional. They are always on time and finish the job as promised. You can not pay them under the table. You have to pay your taxes. This is one of the reasons I like them. Below are my experiences with these guys.Last year, I went with a limited package. I haven't had any negative treatment because of my limited package selection. Once, I called Jon for a landscaping project. I got the estimate but I hired someone else. I thought it was expensive. I just wanted to save some.The irony is, I ended up hiring Dream Greener for the same job again because I wasn't happy with the fist one. Honestly, Dream greener did an amazing job. So yes, I paid twice for the same job. I learned the hard way. I also called Jon for another big landscaping project that I had in my mind. He told me that it will be too expensive and not worth it. He suggested me to leave as it is. The project was cleaning up the plants and some trees from far corner of my backyard and replacing the area with mulching&grass seeding. I was kind of surprised from his answer but it made sense at the end. Because I have a huge backyard and the extra little space I will have is not worth the money I will spend. This year, I went with full package. My grass is for the first time, green, thick and strong. Someone even told me that he is jealous of my grass.Recently, I realized that there was a little damage to my trench fence. I thought it was because of the edge mowing. I emailed Jon with photos attached. He called me and said everything they do is insured. If there is any damage they caused they are willing to pay or repair. The damage was small and I already fixed it by myself by the time he called me. So, these are my experiences with these guys. I will update my review if I'll have any negative experiences. But so far I haven't had any.
Serter Gumus
20:08 01 May 19
My yard looks great, it had been neglected for quite awhile. They might be more expensive than some, but there's a reason. I had multiple companies not even give me an estimate due to the busy season and only requesting a one-time service. Dream Greener was even able to complete the service requested a few weeks earlier than anticipated. I was also surprised that they cleaned up items that I didn't expect. Trust me, my yard is 1,000 times improved and not an eyesore!
Stephanie Turoski
19:40 03 May 19
John and his team did an amazing job with our landscaping. I knew from the website they did quality work, but the end result completely exceeded my expectations. Additionally, their office was very responsive and was able to answer all questions my wife and I had. I will most certainly be using Dream Greener on all future landscaping projects.
Matthew King
23:48 03 May 19
Jon and his crew were very timely and professional. The work they did is fantastic and looks beautiful. The crew cleaned up after the job was completed and everyone that has seen their work today only had great things to say. I signed up for the fall and spring maintenance and I am sure it will be great. Thanks Jon and Dream Greener team!
Dan Goff
17:04 25 Jun 19
We are very satisfied with the job they did at our home and will recommend them to others. We have a large yard on a corner lot that needed a significant amount of landscaping. Jon was great to work with and gave us some excellent suggestions about the best way to tackle the job He helped us develop a plan to do the work in phases over a few months. The crew arrived on time and worked non-stop until it was all done. Thanks Dream Greener!
John Ricci
23:15 08 Aug 19
After getting a quote from Jon that I thought was too expensive, I went with first one then a second company. While both cut the grass, neither one followed through on the bed maintenance, pruning and weeding. Many unanswered calls, texts and emails later, I went back to Jon to see what he could do. Everything was done on time, with very professional crews. They even cleaned up any debris on our driveway and walkways after they finished. We couldn’t be happier. Anyone can make a promise, but not everyone will keep it. Save yourself some time and pain and use Dream Greener.
Bliss Ehrlich
13:55 02 Nov 19
Hands down the best lawn service in the South Hills. Jon and his team are great to work with and the whole team is very responsive. Jon always has gone above and beyond for our family by listening to what we wanted done. Pricing for the service is very reasonable and the results are outstanding. I cannot say enough great things about this organization. I look forward to working with Jon and team in the future. Highly recommend anyone in need of lawn care and service!
Grant Getz
18:52 25 Jan 20
From the office staff to the crews and the owner himself...this team is THE BEST. With Dream Greener, you never have to call another provider because they can take care of anything on your property. Their attention to detail on site is the best, but most importantly their communication from emails to follow up is great. Highly recommend!
Kelly Dowell
16:08 12 Mar 20
I have used this service long enough to say that you need not to use any other lawn care service. I have an older home , but it always looks well maintained. Great job guys.
Valerie Metz
22:23 17 Mar 20
Dream Greener : My front and side yard was a total mess. Over grown grass weeds dead plants. The Dream Greener team came out in just a few hours I have a beautiful yard and side yard. Had neighbors comment on it had good it looked. The price was great, quality and professionalism top notch. They also cut my lawn weekly. My new go to landscaper.
Gary Dunsey
19:37 02 May 20
We used dream greener at our old house till I retired and we moved to a smaller home close by. For two years we went back and forth with three different landscapers trying to save a few dollars. At the end of the day, we saved nothing! Poor service, poor quality, poor timeliness.We are back with Jon at Dream Greener. Five stars are not sufficient. My wife and I would give them ten. High attention to detail. Their automated communication system let's you know when work will be performed and when it is completed. For a nervous wreck like me that is wonderful. The crew is friendly. And, can you believe it...they actually have a real person that works in a real office and answers your phone calls. If you are thinking of switch or are new the neighborhood, call Dream Greener. You simply cannot do any better.
richard wellins
17:12 18 Apr 20
Agree with the other excellent reviews! Jon and his crew never fail to impress. They are very hard working and leave no stone unturned. They are a bit pricey but their quality of work is well worth it.
Prashant Sharma
01:29 26 Apr 20
I’ve used 5-6 different local Landscaping firms over the last several years. I’ve never been totally satisfied with their performance. I’m very impressed with Jon, and his crew. Very courteous and respectful. Fantastic job. See you next spring
Marc Coleman
20:34 17 May 20
Dream greener is a very professional company. This is especially rare for a landscape company these days. Most landscape companies you can barely get them to answer their phone. If your lucky enough to get a call back from a typical landscape company, it may be next to.impossible to get a written proposal from themNot only are they very professional and exstremly knowledgeable, they exceeded my expectations when it came to communication. It was fairly easy to get a hold of dream greener as well as scheduling a estimate and getting a proposal in a timely manner. Dream greener has exceeded my expectations. I will plan to use them in the future as well as recommend them to my friends and family.
Mike Williams
04:21 24 May 20
Fantastic service and quality! Love Jon and his team, and will continue to use them every year. Have used for Mulch, Design, Seasonal pruning etc. Do not hesitate to use Dream Greener!
Susan Passante
19:53 15 Jun 20
Work looks thorough and well done. Very responsive and great customer service. Will definitely be exploring more landscaping options with this company in the near future.
Patrick Leone
16:12 11 Jul 20
We hired them for edging, mulching and pruning services for my lawn. Right from the first day I met Jon he was extremely attentive to all my requirements. He was very responsive to all my emails and delivered all of his services on time without any hassles. The quality of their work was impeccable. The chain of communication was well maintained. I would highly recommend them!
Ranjita Pallavi
23:45 13 Jul 20
Outstanding service! Workers are very professional and go above and beyond! Highly recommend. Any questions I have, Jon is always very responsive. A+++++
Tricia Clegg
17:51 30 Jul 20
Wow wow wow…amazing landscaping job! Beyond our expectations! Just got home and really like the way everything looks. The river rock on the border of the landscape that you suggested really looks phenomenal. If you ever want a referral/testimony let us know….triple thumbs up!!!
Leslie Enscoe
18:50 06 Aug 20
Used Dream Greener to fix a hardscape issue. Crew was awesome and the end result was what I was looking for. I have a retaining wall that works. My neighbors have complemented on the job well done. Thanks again Jon and the Dream Greener Team for helping me out!
Eric Lundblom
00:41 11 Aug 20
The workers here were fabulous -- from start to finish. They got the big job (replaced front lawn, seeded back lawn, installed decorative rocks around driving) accomplished quickly and cleaned up efficiently. They were personable and patient.
Joseph Starkey
16:44 28 Aug 20
We hired Dream Greener Lawn and Landscaping to fix a nightmare of a situation regarding a disappointing driveway project from another contractor over the summer. Jon and his company came to our rescue and fixed a very ugly situation. His crew was professional, efficient and went above and beyond the basic layout of the project to make it look spectacular. The other impressive part of their work was the quality and efficiency. They were done in less than 3 hours for project that I assumed would take all day.Completely Impressive! The crew was very friendly , professional, and just gave us a wonderful experience. We will be using this company again in the near future on another project because of their reliability, trust, and excellence. Thank you Dream Greener!
Matt Martin
21:05 28 Sep 20