Growing pains: the grass seed you need for your lawn

We all long for a luscious, pristine lawn but sometimes everyday maintenance like watering and mowing just isn’t enough to tackle tricky problems such as brown spots and grass disease.
Grass seed in someone's hand

If your lawn is looking a little tired and patchy you have two options. A quick fix is to start from scratch and lay fresh turf which can be very expensive. Alternatively, you can re-seed your garden and bring it back to its former glory. Not only is re-seeding better value for money but it’s always satisfying to see your own hard work paying off.

Fancy giving it a go? Read on for all the tips and tricks you’ll need breathe new life into your lawn.

When is the right time to seed your lawn?

If you have made the call that you want to reseed your garden then even this comes with its own set of challenges. Not least among which is when you should get to work. The unique nature of weather means that timing is everything to really get the most out of your garden.

The best time to sow seeds is between early spring and early autumn. You need moist soil but warm conditions so if you are going to plant your seeds in the spring/summer months you need to be sure you are watering your garden regularly. When you are watering your seeds it is also advisable to have a fine spray as anything that is too powerful can disperse the seeds.

The weather plays such a crucial part in growing seeds. If the soil temperature drops below 6-8 degrees Celsius (10-12 degrees air temperature) the seeds will struggle to germinate. If the soil is too hot it can dry out very quickly and then the seedlings will die out before you could really get the most out of them. When watering to compensate you must ensure that the ground is moist to approximately 6 cm deep so the roots can grow. Occasional light watering won't help, as it will not be enough. This may, in fact, do more harm than good.

If you are able to be patient there are a lot of benefits to choosing later in the year. The ground is usually warmer at the end of the summer months but also there is added moisture in the air as the colder air starts to closes in. By late autumn your new seedlings will have a strong root system, which would then be strong and ready for next spring. It may not have the top growth straight away but be patient as you will be grateful when spring rolls around next year.

Types of grass seed

Before you decide on which type of grass seed to go for (yes there is more than one, we’ll get to that later) you need to understand the type of grass you have. Believe it or not there are thousands of different types of grass that all have their own characteristics. It is worth doing some research into the breed or breeds of grass you have in your garden, as this will determine which seed you will require. To make things doubly complicated it is possible that your garden may have a blend of multiple breeds.

A blend of breeds isn’t uncommon as a lot of seed packs offer mixtures of multiple types of seeds. This is not necessarily a bad thing as it means that you have a layered effect whereby the different breeds give more of an all round effect.

In order to spot the different types of grass you need to know what they look like.

  1. Perennial Ryegrass - You can spot easily by identifying the purple or reddish colouration at the bottom. It grows quickly so, as a result, has become very popular.
  2. Red Fescue - This is also very popular as it is very durable so can handle a family having a kickabout in the garden. It has fine blades and a very attractive emerald colour when looked after properly.
  3. Common Bent Grass - Incredibly durable and can survive in many different conditions. It can also germinate all season long.
  4. Meadow Grass – Also known as Kentucky Bluegrass. This hardwearing grass that you can identify from its dark green colour. It also is slightly broader than other breeds. It can also attract a wide variety of wildlife.

These are only a few of the most popular in the UK so be sure to do your research when it comes to looking at new seeds. (Check out our Ultimate Guide to Grass)

Overall lawn seeds come in a variety of different types each with their own different demands and outcomes so always read the label before you buy some and be aware of how much you will need to work to get your lawn in the condition you want. The amateur gardener may want to choose a low maintenance seed with modest demands however it will not be as rewarding as the type of grass that will enable you to create your own croquet or mini golf lawn – the latter being very high maintenance but high reward.

What you also need to consider is the requirements for your own specific lawn. If you are going to be enjoying playtime with the children and/or dogs then a highly durable grass seed will be needed. You also will need to consider if there is any shade in your garden due to overhanging trees or walls, as some grass types don’t do as well as others under shade.

Most seeds can take 8-10 weeks before they are fully grown but as mentioned above this is very much dependent on the conditions that they are growing in so be sure to keep an eye on the progress and put the work in. It will be worth it in the end.

Preparing your soil for planting

When you are planting your new seeds you need to make sure the ground is in the right state to allow the seeds to germinate. In the same way that you need foundations when building a house you need well prepared soil to really get the best out of your lawn so that it can last you for a long time.

The first thing you will need to do is make sure the soil doesn't have any weeds or stones that could hamper the growth of your new seeds. If you rake through the bare patches you can also remove any old grass to make way for the new seeds. Keep the soil level at this bit and then your lawn will stay level when the seedlings are sprouting.

You can also prepare the soil by raking in a granular fertiliser two to three days before planting so the nutrients are in the soil ready for the seeds when they are planted. It can also help if this is carried out after the ground has been thoroughly soaked through from a large amount of rainfall.

Sowing the grass seed

Now that you have decided on your seeds and have decided on the ideal time to get cracking you need to know how best to actually plant the seeds so you get the best finish. It isn’t a complicated affair however it also isn’t as simple as just throwing the seeds on the grass and then waiting 8 weeks and hey presto!

The best place to start will be to mark out square metres on your garden (use canes if need be). This method means you can ensure you have an even spread of seeds throughout your garden. If you have a blended seed pack be sure to shake well before you plant them so they are all mixed up then look to put around 50g of seeds in each square metre. After sowing lightly rake over the top and then water to make sure they go into the ground. Seedlings can be vulnerable to drought so you will need to make sure they stay well fed. If you push your finger into the ground you can see if it needs water.

To truly protect your new seeds you will need to keep any would-be predators away such as birds who might see your seeds as a tasty food source. Depending on the likelihood you may need to put netting over the planted areas to keep the birds at bay. Of course, you will also need to make sure you don't walk on the newly planted areas yourself.

Hover Vac 280
Hover Vac 280 Left Facing
Power 1300 W
Cutting width 30 cm
Cable length 10 m
Mighti Mo 300 Li
Mighti-Mo
Battery voltage 40 V
Cutting width 30 cm
Roller No
1200R
Robotic Robtoic Lawnmower 1200 R
Working area capacity (±20) 400 m²
Typical charging time 50 min
Alarm Yes
Contour 500E
Contour 500E Left Facing
Power 500 W
Cutting width 25 cm
Lawn edge facility Yes