Grass Seeding Tips
Most grass seeding tips stress suggestions like: rough up the top inch or so of your soil, make sure the seed comes in contact with your soil, feed your new grass a starter lawn food and keep your new seed moist until your new grass is established. These tips are fine, however I would like to take a different approach and tell you about situations I have personally seen where folks think they did all those steps right, however they did not get good grass seed germination and growth.
- You can expect old seed that has been stored in a garage causing it to experience big temperature changes to germinate poorly. It is best to buy fresh seed and use it all that season.
- Sometimes grass seed is spread on a lawn in spring or fall after a crabgrass preventer has been put down by the lawn owner or lawn service. The result is poor germination. The rule of thumb: If you prevent weeds in spring, seed in fall; if you prevent weeds in fall, seed in spring. There is a special crabgrass preventer for spring use that is compatible with grass seed. (Click here to read more about this product.) Anytime you use a weed killer and plan to seed, check the label to see what the waiting period is before you can plant grass seed.
- Personally, I’ve missed an area with my spreader when spreading grass seed and did not realize it until after I saw no germination in that spot. This can happen to the best of us. It is that tell-tale strip or space where the spreader missed (or should I say where the spreader operator missed). If you are spreading grass seed and starter lawn food on the same day, spread the grass seed first so you do not get confused over which spreader wheel track is which.
- One time I covered the seed with too much soil in one spot. All it takes is to spread the seed and then spread the Starter Lawn Food, and then make one pass across the newly seeded area with an upside down leaf rake (tines pointed up). Note: this is a leaf rake, not a garden rake. The idea is to make sure the seed is in good contact with soil and that it is no deeper than the top 1/8 inch. It is ok to still see some seed on the surface.
- Many times the seed dries out during the critical time when the grass is germinating. When this happens, you will likely see little to no germination in the sunny areas and good germination where the soil is in partial shade (where the soil is slower to dry). The Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Blends, with Water-Smart Formula, really give you an edge when you are trying to keep your new seed moist. Scotts EZ Seed also helps to hold moisture next to your seed.
- A heavy rain can move grass seed to the low spots leaving the high spots with little to no germination.
- Years ago when we lived in Ohio, the grass seed did not seem to want to come up next to a wooded area. I seeded several times. Then early one morning while using my flashlight to find the newspaper in the dark, I shined it on this area I had seeded to see if my grass seed was germinating and I saw hundreds of small slugs eating my grass seed sprouts. These slugs crawled from the woods at night and were grazing on my new grass seedlings every time I planted. They would then crawl back into the woods during the day. I put down slug bait and finally I got new grass.
- Fall seeding germinates faster than spring planted grass because the soil is warmer. With colder spring soil you can sometimes count on 2 weeks or more before you see new grass spouts. In fall this time can be cut down to 7 to 14 days. Also understand that no matter when you seed, you will generally see some of the grass seed come up a week or so before the rest of your seed germinates because of the different varieties in the seed blend and their different germination times. This is why it is important to keep up your watering a week or so after you begin to seed new seedlings.
A feeding of Scotts Turf Builder one month after seeding will also help your new grass fill-in thin areas. If you need to reseed some spots, rough up your soil a little before you seed again.