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Home » Lawn Care » Sowing Grass Seed

Sowing Grass Seed

Sowing a lawn with grass seed.

Grass seed offers the cheapest option for creating a new lawn, but just as with laying turf, the site needs careful preparation in order to produce a decent lawn. The ideal time of year for sowing grass seed is spring and autumn.

Preparing the site for sowing grass seed.

If you already have an area of lawn that you want to replace completely, the first stage is to remove the existing grass, complete with roots, and cultivate the area thoroughly to a depth of at least six inches, more if the topsoil layer is thicker. The soil needs to be relatively dry when carrying out the cultivation and all perennial weed roots and large stones should be removed.

If the area becomes waterlogged during heavy rains, as is often the case with heavy clay soils, consider a series of soakaways for a sloping site, or a continuous rubble and grit sand layer for level sites.

If the area is heavy soil but does not become waterlogged, a soil improver such as lime-free sand will improve soil consistency and the drainage. To ensure the success of the grass seed, replace the top four inches with new topsoil. If the topsoil layer is relatively thin, i.e. less than four inches, it will be necessary to buy in new topsoil to make up the difference.

If the area is bare earth, check the soil layer to ascertain the topsoil quality and thickness. If the soil is a mixture of subsoil and top soil, it will be necessary to replace the top four inches of the entire site. If you don’t bring in new topsoil, there is a good chance you’ll end up with a patchy lawn or a moss ridden lawn if the soil is heavy.

Now is the ideal time to grade the area and make any alterations to the levels and slope of the new lawn area. Make sure that no subsoil is brought to the surface when preparing the site as the grass seed is unlikely to germinate in these spots and will lead to bare patches on the lawn. Break up all lumps and clods thoroughly otherwise they will cause lumps and bumps in your finished lawn.

Raking, firming and leveling the site.

Once the area is leveled off and all clods broken up thoroughly, firm the area by walking and ‘heeling’ the soil, paying close attention to soft areas. Rake and tread the area again until the soil is firm enough not to show deep heel marks.

If you have the patience, let the site fallow for several weeks to allow any dormant weed seeds to germinate and be removed. This is best done during the summer before sowing the grass seed in the autumn. Leaving the site will also allow the ground to settle, allowing you to deal with any hollows and bumps before you sow the grass seed.

To achieve a flat, level surface, tie a couple of rope handles to a single piece ladder and drag sideways across the site. If the ladder is a lightweight aluminium type, place a couple of paving slabs on it for extra weight.

Choosing lawn seed

Your choice of grass seed depends on the type of lawn you want to create. A high quality ornamental lawn requires different species of grass to a hard wearing utility lawn. As a guide, you’ll need 1 kg of grass seed for every 25 square metres.

Rolawn Medallion Premium lawn seed is ideal for domestic utility lawns and contains a blend of the following species:

For ornamental lawns, choose Rolawn Minster Pro, a shade and drought resistant blend specially developed for a low mowing height. Rolawn Minster Pro contains

Seed sowing day

Seeding is best carried out on a calm, fine day. For the best results, apply a slow release pre-turfing and seeding starter fertilizer such as Rolawn GroRight worked into the top inch of the area. The soil needs to be dry on the top, but moist just below the surface. Use a metal spring tine or plastic leaf clearing rake to gently produce shallow furrows.

Before sowing the grass seed, work out how much you need for the entire area. Divide the seed into two equal portions and scatter half of the seed as evenly as possible working up and down the site. The second portion of seed is scattered working at right angles to the first run. Gently rake the area after sowing to partially cover the seeds.

Water the area regularly using a fine mist sprinkler or hose attachment taking care not to wash away the seeds. The first grass shoots should appear within 7-14 days.

When the grass is between 2 & 3 inches high, you can use a roller to firm the soil lifted by the germinating seeds and the first cut can take place a few days later. Make sure your lawn mower blades are sharp and remove the top half inch. You can gradually lower the blades over the course of the next few cuts until the length of the grass is just over an inch - the standard for a domestic lawn.

Lawn drainage on heavy soils.

Constructing a soakaway on a sloping lawn.

A soakaway is essentially a large hole filled with rubble and stones which acts as a drainage point for the surrounding area. Water seeps into the chamber and drains away into the subsoil. A soakaway is best constructed at the same time as preparing the whole site for seeding or turfing.

Dig a hole approximately three feet deep and two feet square. Fill the hole with large stones and rubble to a depth of 12 inches below the lawn surface. Fill the remainder with six inches of grit sand, and then six inches of topsoil. Allow several weeks for the whole site to settle before sowing grass seed or turfing. For larger lawns, a series of soakaways spaced every three metres or so will be required along the lowest portion of the site.

Drainage on a flat lawn.

For a flat, level area of lawn constructed over a heavy clay subsoil, a continuous layer of rubble and grit sand will provide an effective drainage solution. The topsoil will need to be stripped from the entire site in addition to sufficient subsoil to allow for a six inch layer of rubble, plus a two inch layer of grit sand. Either replace the topsoil, or buy in some new material.

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