E. Spreading Seed

Spreading seed is the easiest part of the job so long as it isn't a super windy day. It is not physically demanding, but you need to make sure you have good coverage with the seed.

Your ultimate goal spreading seed is to have approximately 15 to 20 seeds per square inch. If you are spreading it by hand (a matter of personal preference), spread the seed across the area working in one direction, then the other, for consistent coverage.

If you find the seed too thick, or bunched up in one particular spot, take a rake, or your fingers to lightly spread it around.

Some people will string off smaller sections or grids to work from to ensure they have consistent coverage.

Seed spreaders and broadcast spreaders come in handy for larger areas. I have always preferred to use my hands when spreading seed. A light breeze is perfect for getting good coverage.

Spreading seed with your hands is like throwing dice in craps. This has always worked well for me. (Not as lucky with craps though.)

Next, lightly rake the seeds into the first inch or so of loam.

You can work the seed into the top layer of soil with the back side of the rake, or roll the seeds with your roller barrel. You won't need more than 1/4 to 1/3 full of water. This will ensure good contact with the soil. Make sure it is dry if you do this, or the seed and soil will stick to the barrel.

When you are finished spreading seed in your yard you can do a little bit of preventive policing. First thing to do is to string off the area to keep people away.

Next take straw or an organic mulch (organic mulch is preferred, and will break down into the soil afterwards), and very lightly spread it over the seeded area. Germination requires moisture, and this will lightly cover the seeds to help retain moisture. This will also provide some protection from hungry birds.

Make sure if you use organic mulch over your seeds, that you don't put it down too thick, 1/4 inch is plenty. It is not good to bury your seeds and deprive them of oxygen. Another important note is to never let the seed dry out once germination has started, or you risk killing the seeds.

Watering grass seed

When watering new grass seed you should set your spray nozzle to the setting called mist. This way you can heavily dampen the soil and seeds without moving them around. It is recommended to lightly water new seeds at least a couple of times a day.

Never leave a sprinkler or irrigation system on a newly seeded lawn. This will cause puddling of water, or streams that can wash away the seeds. Don't drown the seeds or soil with too much water. Once you have started this process towards germination, don't let the seeds fully dry out.

If you have a lot of birds that have found your free buffet of seeds, you can try stringing off more lines with rags tied to them. They should blow with the breeze acting like a scarecrow to startle them.

Make sure you have some control measures in place for controlling water from downspouts or other runoff areas. Purchase some flex piping, or downspout socks if you need too divert the water.

A heavy amount of water from a downspout will erode the soil, while washing rivers of seed along with it.

Depending on the variety of seed you have used, you may see results as early as four to ten days, or as late as 20. When you start seeing a nice consistent green haze across your yard, you will begin slowly adjusting you watering habits over the next month or so.

After most of the seed has germinated, start watering a little deeper into the soil each week. Let the soil dry up (not parched) between each watering. This will train the roots to grow deeper for the moisture. Make sure you don't have a soil that is frequently saturated or this won't work.

Make sure that you stay off the area, and keep pets away. The tender roots can be easily damaged.

After about a month or so when your grass is roughly three inches high, you can start to mow your new lawn. Try not to mow it too short.

Do all the turning with your mower on driveways or other areas so the wheels don't tear the tender young grass roots. Bag the trimmings so you can clearly see where you have to reseed.

Thin areas are normal. Don't be alarmed if you see them. It may be due to a number of things, including a rain that puddled or washed the seeds to certain areas.

100% germination is never going to happen. You may have to put down a bit more seed on these areas. (Make sure you keep these over seeded areas moist until they germinate.)

Once your lawn is more established please visit our module on lawn care and maintenance.

To wrap things up on these modules, let's go to ongoing care and maintenance of your lawn.


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Table of Contents: Seeding a Lawn

Introduction: Seeding a Lawn

A. Seeding Site

B. Seeding Tools

C. Selecting and Estimating Seeding Materials

D. Grading Soil for Seeding

E. Spreading Seed

F. Seeding Completion and Clean-up

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Go to The Yard: How-to Modules

Return to the Dream Yard Home Page from Spreading Seed


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