We’re still excited about concentrating on our lawn for September–and we’re going to proceed as if we’ve settled the seeds vs. sodding debate. We’re going with seeding. That’s still some territory to cover in choosing the right seeds–but for now, we’re going to concentrate on planting the seeds right. [photo via lowes.com]
We’ll start with reading the label. Laws require that all seed providers have to label the specific contents. You’ll know the percentage of weight of seeds in there, and the percentage compared to what else is in the bag. We also prefer brands that specify planting so many seeds per square foot. Or sometimes by the square yard.
We tend to buy upscale when it comes to grass seed. A quality brand might still contain some weed seed, but not much. You should be able to even see which weeds are in the bag–so that’ll help you avoid toxic ones. You also want a brand that’s low on filler. That kind of inert matter is just going to take up space that could be used for seeds. You’ll also find a germination rate on the label. That’s how much of the seeds you can expect to actually grow some grass. It’s perfectly realistic to go for a germination rate of at least 75%.
Check the test date, too. We haven’t had a lot of problems with older seeds, but you’re not going to want anything that’s more than ten months past its test date. That germination rate is going to start slipping after that.
For the actual planting–start with some fertilizer on the surface. Go with a high phosphorus rate and mix it at 1-2-1. Don’t dig it into the dirt. Just let it rest there. We’re not big fans of fertilizers that claim to control weeds. They’re not going to be healthy for the grass. We’ve never had a preference between casting the seed by hand, or using a hand caster, or going with a spreader on wheels. The important thing is to follow the directions and only apply as much seed as the label recommends.
If the packaging doesn’t come with a suggestion, then try the old reliable rule of 16 to 22 seeds for every square inch. The best way is to cast the seeds out twice, while aiming for about ten seeds with each casting. Try to do this on a day with no winds. (If you’re having a windy September, try applying a very thin layering of humus over the soil.) Do some light raking into the soil–but very light. Try to work just 1/8 of an inch down.
Then it’s time to break out the lawn roller (an empty one) and roll the soil to get the seeds down into the dirt. From there, it’s just steady watering over the next three to four weeks. Very steady watering. It’ll be pretty disastrous if you let the soil go dry. Water the area steadily, too. You don’t want to wash away seeds. Keep the growth even.
Watch out for animals and resist the urge to mow your lawn until you have at least a third of the suggested height for mowing. What will you be mowing? Well, that’s to be discussed in our next posting, as we keep getting our soil ready for September.