Properly Planting Grass Seed
Written by Lee Wyatt (last updated March 1, 2021)
Properly planting grass seed can be both one of the most frustrating of landscaping tasks and one of the most rewarding. The frustration comes into play with how much time it can take to get the grass seed planted and how easy it can be for birds or other animals to eat the freshly planted seed. However, the rewarding part comes around when the grass finally takes hold and begins to come in. When you first see that beautiful thick lawn coming in, you will feel an unprecedented sense of accomplishment.
To make sure that you are properly planting grass seed, all you need to do is follow these steps. Considering that some of these tasks can be a bit time consuming, it would be a good idea to set aside a complete weekend to do your grass planting.
- Bust it. The first step in properly planting grass seed is to break or bust up the sod and soil of where you will be planting the seed. This will typically require that you do a little bit of planning, and will also make you dirty and sweaty while you are doing the actual work. For a small area (like a bare spot on the lawn) all you will really need is a garden hoe and a spade. For larger areas you will (or at least should) use a till to break up and loosen the soil. On the average, you will need to do this to a depth of about six inches, and help you mix up the soil to provide the best possible growing medium for your seed.
- Prepare the area. Before you can actually plant the seeds into the freshly busted up soil, you need to prepare the area. This is done by taking a rake, some topsoil, and even a little fertilizer, and mixing it all together. This mixture should be spread around the area and mixed with the freshly tilled soil. In fact, as much as you are able, you should mix the soil with your mixture to a depth of at least four inches, but the entire six inches would be better.
- Apply the fertilizer. Once you have mixed the soil together, it is time to apply some fertilizer. This will be more of a top layer to what you have already applied into the soil, and will be used more directly by the grass seeds initially. The easiest way to apply the fertilizer is with the use of a fertilizer spreader; just make sure that you apply as even of a layer as possible over the entire area where you will be planting the seeds.
- Dampen the soil. Lightly water the area you are seeding. The dampness will help to hold the seed when you apply it in the next step.
- Spread out the seed. In order to spread out the seeds, again the tool of choice is going to be a spreader. By using a spreader you will be able to ensure that the seeds are spread around evenly, and completely. Continue spreading the seeds around until the soil begins to look gray as opposed to the normal dark black or brown of freshly tilled soil.
- Water. Once you have planted the seeds you will need to do some watering. The initial watering is always a little difficult since you can (if you are not careful) end up washing away the seeds that you have just planted. Rather, if you have the ability to use a drip irrigation system then you should take full advantage of it. It would allow you to properly water the seeds, and still not wash them away. Continue to water the grass seed on a daily basis for the next three weeks.
- Protect the seed. When you first plant grass seed it can be amazingly vulnerable, so it will need some protection. The best way to protect freshly laid grass seed is through two different methods. The first is to carefully spread around some hay. The hay will act as a mulching agent that can keep the moisture from the watering in, while also protecting the seeds from birds and the sun. The second method is similar to this, but can actually cost a little more. There are mats that you can purchase from your local nursery. These mats will act in much the same way that the hay would, but are a little easier to lay down and remove. Ideally, due to their cost, they should only be used for small areas.