If you are wondering when is the best time to plant grass seed and don’t know where to start in this article I’m going to be looking at the six most common mistakes beginners make when trying to sow a lawn from seed
You can avoid these mistakes to get the best results, save time and money from wasting the products that you buy by using the following guide
When is the best time to plant grass seed?
My first tip for seeding a lawn with grass seed is going to be around picking the right time to seed
Timing is crucial to getting the right outcome and most people think you can just throw seed down any time of the year and that it will grow and produce good quality high levels of germination.
As a rule of thumb the best time to plant grass seed is in the spring and the autumn.
This is because you’ve got a more consistent higher temperature range above 10 degrees soil temperature and there’s more likelihood to receive constant moisture.
So, tip number 1 is to time your lawn overseeding or new lawn project carefully in the spring or the autumn.
Look out for when soil temperatures are above 10 degrees or as recommended by your seed supplier.
Depending where you are in the UK this is typically going to be from mid march onward and finishing up in the autumn towards the end of September and into October.
There are some special seeds that can grow over the winter time, for example these Cold Start grass seed can get kicking from as low as five degrees.
If you are going to sow throughout the winter months then you need to make sure that you pick the right grass type in order and clear from frost.
What depth should I plant Grass Seed
Tip number two is around the planting depth of the grass seed.
Some people will bury the seed under lots of topsoil and assume that the seed will germinate from that point.
Whilst this may be okay for planting bulbs and other plants in the garden it is not OK for grass seed.
For grass seed you want to be targeting the seed within the top quarter inch of the soil bed.
If you’re establishing a completely new lawn from scratch this will probably involve tilling over the soil or adding new soil material in.
When this is done, you can bury the seed just less than quarter of an inch in the top layer of the surface.
Don’t bury the seed too deep into the soil bed because it will struggle to germinate and most it could rot or not germinate and you’re going to end up wasting your time and money.
If you are overseeding, you can cut the grass on the lowest setting, remove debris and thatch then apply the seed.
Covering with topdressing will improve the germination rates, help with leveling your lawn, can reduced bird take and lock in moisture during the germination period.
How to Water New Grass Seed
Tip number three is all about watering, most people forget this crucial step with regards to sowing grass seed during its germination period especially during the first week or two needs to be kept moist.
This doesn’t mean sitting in pools of water because that’s going to cause the seed to rot.
Conversely it doesn’t mean keeping it bone dry because that’s going to slow down or even prevent the germination from happening.
Keeping the soil moist throughout the first couple of weeks is a really key step this could involve short bursts of water in for maybe five minutes a couple of times a day throughout the germination period.
You can also improve the moisture retention during this period by adding a layer of soil or topdressing over the top which will help retain and lock in that moisture in between the seed and the soil.
One other thing to think about which is a little bit more advanced is the type of soil you have.
For a clay soil this is generally going to be colder and hold more moisture and if you’ve got a sandy soil this is typically going to be more free draining.
Keep it simple, water your new seed for a couple of times a day for the first two weeks and you’ll get great results.
Best Selling Grass Seed
Choose the Right Seed
The fourth tip is around choice of seed, you really want to choose a seed that’s suitable for your application so let’s take a look at the different types of grass.
If you need a hard wearing lawn you want to go for a premium hardwearing grass seed mix and suitable for high foot traffic.
Maybe it’s in an area you’ve got to walk across to get from one part of the garden to another and maybe you’ve got kids and pets but if you’ve got high foot traffic probably don’t expect to have a ornamental type of lawn that needs lower foot traffic and maybe different types of maintenance.
There are also grass seeds designed for clay soils such as the Clay King and mixes of grass for shaded areas
Pick the seed type that’s suitable for your application!
Another thing you might want to consider is around shade, now by shady this is going to be things like tall trees making a canopy, buildings or fences whereby parts of the soil or the grass doesn’t get much light throughout the day.
How Much Grass Seed should I apply
Tip number five is around the seed sowing rate, what I mean by this is how much seed do you need to put down onto your lawn in order to germinate effectively.
Sowing a new Lawn from Seed
If you’re sowing a lawn completely from scratch with nothing but soil you want to target a higher application rate, and by that i mean around 70 grams per square meter.
Over Seed an Existing Lawn
When overseeding an existing lawn to thicken up some patches or repair some areas then you can choose a lower seeding rate, any where between 35 -70 grams per square meter.
If you are new to lawn care I would suggest using the upper range as this can help with any errors during aftercare and application but anywhere between in this range is going to give you results.
In order to really thicken up the lawn you can also lean towards the higher application rates but generally sticking within those two boundaries is going to give you the best results.
Anywhere above that is likely going to waste your money and potentially cause other issues with over crowding.
How to Prepare the Ground for Seeding
The last tip i wanted to talk to you about is ground preparation especially if you want to know how to plant grass seed on hard dirt or compact soil where preparing the lawn for seeding is critical.
Preparing the soil for a new lawn
Before applying the seed is the best time to kill off the weeds.
Don’t put the seed down and try to kill off the weeds later because especially in the uk it can be difficult to target some of those types of weeds because there aren’t any selective weed killers for certain weed grasses like POA Aunnua and other grasses you don’t want in your lawn.
Make sure you leave enough time after applying weed killer before planting new seeds and follow the manufacturer recommendations
Till over the soil so you’ve got a nice seed bed for the soil to sit in and refer back to a previous tip which is sit them in the top quarter inch of the soil
Preparing the ground for Over Seeding a Lawn
If you’re looking to overseed your lawn preparation is just as key.
Some things to pay attention to is the amount of thatch in the lawn, you can take a sample of the lawn by cutting a little section out or get into the seed bed and take a look.
If you have a lot of thatch in your lawn, think about the grass blade standing up and layer of thatch in between the soil.
With that thatch layer ‘barrier’ sitting on top whenever you drop seeds into your lawn for over seeding if they’re going to sit on that thatch layer they’re going to struggle to germinate as well as they would if they’re sitting into the soil bed.
So, preparation by scarification of the lawn to remove debris and thatch is a great process to use before overseeding. I’ve actually made a full video step by step on all the steps you can take to do a lawn renovation and i’ll link that below if you’re interested.
The other thing scarification is really interesting to do before overseeding is it creates little furrows especially if you do two passes one in each direction.
These little channels can help the seed sit in and promote a better seed to soil contact and giving the seed somewhere safe to grow.
The last step which is often overlooked is around rolling or treading in the seed, if you think of the seed it wants to be in contact with soil so after you’ve dropped the seed down rolling the lawn or treading in the lawn is going to help compress that seed into the soil bed and give it a better seed to soil.