How to Seed a Lawn
Using grass seed to establish a lawn is a much cheaper alternative to turf, it can also be more flexible as there is a wide array of grass varieties available for different situations. Another advantage to grass seed is that it can be stored for long periods if conditions become unsuitable, turf rolls quickly degrade once lifted and ideally need laying within 24 hours of delivery. Lawn seed avoids the risk of bringing pests such as Chafer Beetle into your garden too as eggs and larvae can be carried in on rolls of turf. Rolls of turf are also susceptible to shrinking during hot weather leaving gaps in the lawn. Establishing a lawn with grass seed does take longer but the guide below provides a simple step-by-step guide to success.
When to sow grass seed?
The best times to sow grass seed are early autumn and mid spring, early autumn often producing the highest success as soils are warm from the summer sun but with more available soil moisture from increased rainfall. However, depending on your location in the country it is possible to sow grass seed almost all year round if using the correct grass varieties. At ProGreen we have mixes suited to both dry soils and cold germination temperatures, this gives our customers the ability to establish lawns in almost any conditions so long as there is a small amount of moisture and soil temperatures more than 5℃.
Laying a Lawn: A step -by-step guide
- When laying a lawn it is important to have a plan in mind as to the type of lawn you require. If it will largely be an area for children or animals then a hard wearing mix would be required, for a landscaped garden a high quality mix of fine bladed species would be preferable and for an amenity area or public park a low maintenance blend would reduce upkeep costs. If you are unsure which seed you need our qualified team of experts are always happy to help.
- Once you have a design planned and your seed selected, the real work begins. You will need to clear the area of stones and existing weeds. An application of a total, non-residual weed killer such as Gallup Hi-Aktiv or Gallup Home & Garden will control any problem weeds. Once applied leave the treated area for 2 weeks to allow time for the weed killer to take effect.
- The next job is preparing the seedbed. Either fork over or rotovate the area and then rake to level the surface. A fine seedbed is required to maximise contact between seed and soil. The soil should be consolidated enough to walk over easily but soft enough to leave clear footprints. If required this stage can be used to incorporate a new lawn grass seed fertiliser, this should be done prior to spreading seed as it is important to avoid walking on prepared surfaces or disturbing young seedlings.
- The soil should now be left to settle, the longer the better, a couple of weeks if possible. This will help to prevent localised slumping, leaving an uneven lawn, and will give weed seeds brought to the surface time to germinate. These can either be hand weeded or sprayed depending on the number of weeds present.
- Now to sow the grass seed. Each mix of grass cultivars will have its own application rate depending on the intended purpose; this is shown in grams per m2. If spreading the seed by hand, section the area into known sizes, 1 m2 or 10 m2 and weigh out the required amount of seed for that area. This will help when it comes to spreading the seed evenly across the lawn area. If spreading seed via a machine spreader, it is important to accurately calibrate it in line with the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Grass seed must have good contact with the soil in order to establish effectively, however, it also requires light to germinate so must not be buried. Once the seed has been spread the best way to achieve this is by either lightly raking over the seeded area or, ideally, using a light garden roller to gently push the seed into the soil.
- As the grass establishes it is important to keep the soil moist. Initially lightly, but regularly, water the grass seed in. It is important to avoid washing the seed away so a fine setting on a hose gun should be used. If there is no rain following this repeat the process as necessary until the grass is established.
It is important to keep off the grass while it establishes, the developing roots and shoots are delicate and easily damaged. Once the grass has reached 8 cm tall it will be ready for its first cut. It is important that the blades be as sharp as possible as blunt blades will tear rather than cut the grass, the increased friction also runs the risk of damaging the roots or pulling the grass up all together. The mower should be set to the tallest setting, aiming to remove no more than a quarter of the grass length. The grass clippings should be collected to reduce the risk of fungal diseases. As the lawn thickens and toughens the cutting deck can be lowered.
Depending on the efficacy of the pre-seeding herbicide applications weeds may begin appearing in the lawn. These must be removed mechanically for the first 6 months as even grass selective herbicides can be damaging to newly sown grass.