Growing your own lawn from seed is straightforward once you know the method. In this article, we will take you through the whole process – as well as a wealth of useful hints and tips. Starting with when to grow your seed, we will also cover where is best for a lawn, which tools you will require, how to prepare the soil and take you right through to aftercare.
When To Grow Grass From Seed?
Any time from March to October is perfect for germination as long as the soil is moist and the air temperature is above 10◦C. Many people favour September to sow grass seeds. This way, any intense summer heat or drought is avoided. And by removing weeds and other invasive plants at this time will mean they’re unlikely to grow back entirely before winter. Over the course of the autumn, the grass will develop a good root system as the soil will still be warm from the summer sun. While there isn’t much top growth, come springtime, your lawn will be strong and healthy.
Where To Grow Grass?
Grass needs sunlight to be successful so try not to sow grass seed in shady areas where it will struggle. You can buy grass seed specifically for shady areas like fescue grass seeds. If you have thick canopied trees, try to sow grass seed in the autumn as more sunlight will reach the seedlings through the bare branches
Required Garden Tools For Growing Your Lawn
Before you sow your grass seed you need to prepare the soil, and ensure you have all the garden tools you need.
- Watering can and rose, or hose with a thin spray attachment
- Garden rake
- Garden fork
- Tape measure & string
- Lawn seed
Preparing The Soil
No matter what size area you are planning on sowing your grass seed, you will need to prepare the soil correctly if it is to stand a chance to grow. This is true no matter if you’re trying to cover up a bald patch in your lawn or grow a new lawn from scratch.
Before sowing grass seeds, remove any weeds and dying or dead grass. This ensures that nothing is competing with the grass seed for nutrients. If you need to apply weed killer, do so and wait four to six weeks before sowing your grass seed – this minimises the risk of killing those seeds with leftover herbicide.
Once you’ve cleared and prepared the area you wish to sow, fork over the soil before raking it. Break up any large clumps of soil and remove any medium and large stones. Once the soil is level, gently firm the soil by walking across it. Gently re-rake to remove any footprints.
Grass needs soil with a pH of around 6.0 to 7.5. If your soil type falls outside these numbers when you do a litmus test, you can buy products to amend your soil pH.
If your garden has a clay-based soil, you will need to make sure that you aerate the soil using a garden fork to improve the drainage and prevent flooding. This isn’t necessary for sand-based soils, though you may find that you need to water more often.
Finally, you may wish to add nutrients to your soil to improve the growing conditions. Grass needs lots of nitrogen to grow at its best so consider using nitrogen or phosphorus-based fertiliser before laying your seed.
How To Choose The Right Lawn Seed?
Not all lawn seed is the same. You should consider the grass type you want to grow and the varieties capable of growing in your garden.
Most gardens in the UK will require a hardwearing multi-purpose lawn seed. These are suited for gardens where children or pets commonly run over the area. A shade resistant lawn seed is best for gardens with shaded areas and in areas covered by thickly canopied trees. You can find more about the different types of grass here.
Where possible, avoid cheaper garden lawn seeds which are more likely to contain problematic weed seeds. A more premium lawn seed is recommended for a full lawn.
Sowing The Seed
- Measure out the area of your garden where you wish to sow and rake the area to open the soil so your seeds can settle.
- Break the area up into square metres and mark it with string.
- Give your box of lawn seed a good shake to loosen up the seeds. Typically use 50g of lawn seed per square metre.
- Once the area is covered evenly with seed, remove the string from the lawn, and gently raking over the seed to cover it with soil. If the seed is not touching or covered in soil, the grass roots will not establish themselves.
- Next, give the seed a light watering. Continue to lightly water the lawn seed every few days as the soil becomes dry to touch. When watering your lawn seed, ensure you always use a fine spray. Large water droplets can move seeds, causing uneven growth.
- When the grass seed has germinated, you can reduce the amount of water you provide. However, for the best results, make sure that the soil isn’t completely dry between watering.
How Long Does Grass Take To Grow?
It takes anywhere between 5-21 days for grass seeds to germinate, but a further four to ten weeks to become established and well rooted. Some grass varieties germinate faster than others, so always check the pack to see how long yours will take.
Seasonality will affect how long it takes for your grass to germinate. If you have planted the seeds too early or too late and the soil is cool, it may take longer. Geography and climate will affect your seed too – for example, if you live further south you may experience less rainfall and more sunshine, therefore more frequent watering would be required.
Once the seeds have grown to around an inch in height, you will be able to see if there are any bare patches you might have missed. Over-sow with more grass seed to ensure even coverage. You can repeat this process as needed until you have a thick lawn.
How To Speed Up Grass Growth?
There’s little you can do about where your garden is or your climate. But you can give your grass seed the best start by making sure that the soil is free of weeds, well fertilised and properly raked. Keeping your soil properly watered will ensure good growth.
If you haven’t grown your own lawn before. Typically, there are few problems that can occur.
Even coverage is vital for a healthy lawn, but if you water too much, you can move the seeds and create accidental bald patches. This can easily be resolved by over-sowing with new seed and watering gently.
To avoid a bumpy lawn, make sure that you thoroughly rake over the soil so that it is flat and even before you sow. Over time, you may find that some sections sink or bumps appear. These are easily fixed by digging up that section of turf, levelling the soil beneath and returning the turf to the newly flat surface.
If your grass isn’t growing in a shady area, it is best to reseed with a different type of grass seed that is more suited to this environment. Sometimes a mixture of grass seeds is best for consistent coverage.
Some cheaper grass seeds will contain some weed seeds. Premium grass seed typically doesn’t contain weed seeds. If you do find some sprouting, pull them out once it’s clear that they’re weeds. Avoid using weed killer on grass seeds, this may kill young grass plants.
You may want to cover your seed with some horticultural netting to prevent birds from eating it. Alternatively, you can lay 50% more seed to compensate for the seed that the birds could eat.
When the seed has grown to around 2-3 inches in height, gently firm up the soil with a roller or by gently walking across it.
Before mowing the grass check that your lawn mower is on the right cutting height and the blade is sharp. Then, use a lawn mower to gently cut 20% off the height of the new grass - any more than this will harm the grass and damage the chances of it growing. To achieve a truly neat and tidy finish, you should cut the edges of your lawn using a grass trimmer or edger.
Try and avoid walking on the new grass for about 2-3 months if possible. You could use stepping stones to create walkways to get to your borders and the rest of the garden if you wish.