Seeding 101

People just assume that seeding is simple. Throw the seed down, watch it grow, right???

I assure you there is more to it. A lot more. I found this great article on the basic prep of your lawn before seeding. Just keep in mind, despite doing all the right things, sometimes your seed wont grow. Why? Most of the time it can contribute to temperature(not consistent enough). Poor soil conditions(I don’t care what anyone says, if you use a lot of weed killer chemical, you’re basically hindering the health of the soil and lawn. Where do you think that chemical goes after the weeds die? Evaporation? Washes away? I assure you your lawn is an amazing living organism much like yourself. Any contaminants, toxins, poisons etc… it comes in contact with, it will absorb). Anyways… 🙂

The information written below was copy and pasted from this link http://www.centralirrigationsupply.com/landscaping/solutions/images/solutions/solutions-seed.pdf . Excellent and very informative.

Back to Basics: Seeding 101

BEFORE SEEDING

• Select the right seed for the job: This seems simple, but is often overlooked. Picking the right species is the first step in a successful seeding.

• Take a soil test: A basic soil test is relatively inexpensive tool and can provide valuable information on soil pH and fertility deficiencies that may need to be addressed. You can send soil for testing at most county extension offices, land grant universities, or through your local Central Turf & Irrigation store.

• Perform proper site prep: On bare ground soils, rough grade for proper surface drainage and remove all debris. Incorporate any soil amendments at this time such as pelletized lime.

•Finish grade: The goal is for the final grade to be firm enough to support any seeding equipment, but loose and crumby enough on top so that the seed can be properly raked in.

AT SEEDING

• Follow seeding rate guidelines: These rates are established for your success in mind. They will vary greatly among species and can also vary according to your task (new establishment vs. a renovation with existing turf cover for instance).

• Ensure maximum seed-to-soil contact: This is the single–most important key to a successful seeding. By whatever means necessary, you must make sure the seed is in contact with the soil. This can be accomplished by using specialized equipment that does most of the work for you such as a slice-seeder. Or you can go low-tech by simply broadcasting the seed, lightly raking it in, and then going over the area with a small roller. Regardless of the method used, it is also a good idea to apply the seed in two or more directions to ensure even distribution.

• Apply a starter fertilizer: Starter fertilizers are high in phosphorous and enhance seedling germination and development. For the best germination possible, apply two applications of starter fertilizer: one at seeding and another 3-4 weeks later. There are also many biologically active and bio-stimulant type products available that can help to “supercharge” the establishment process. By providing healthy doses of all kinds of complex sugars, vitamins, micro-nutrients, plant hormones, surfactants, humic acids and beneficial microbes, seedling germination and vigor can be significantly increased with these types of products, especially in challenging environments. Consider using one or more of these products as a companion to your traditional starter fertilizer. Many of these can also be added to your hydro-seed mix at the same time you are spraying seed, fertilizer, and hydro-mulch.

• Use mulch: when not using a hydro seeder, a light layer of mulch will help retain moisture, protect the young seedlings and reduce erosion.

AFTER SEEDING

• Dial in your watering: The seedbed needs to be kept moist at all times. Light, frequent irrigation is the key in the beginning. Depending on the weather, this could require 2-4 irrigation events per day. Once the seedlings are about 2 inches tall, you can reduce the frequency and begin to water more deeply.

• Don’t be afraid to mow: Mowing will encourage the seedling turf to fill in more quickly. Make sure the ground is firm and the mower blades are sharp. You may only mow 30% of the plants on the first mowing, as the stand will be in different stages of development. Feed the “new seedlings”: Young grass plants are like little babies; they grow fast and require plenty of food. Follow up with a second round of starter fertilizer a few weeks after germination, usually around the first mowing. One more additional feeding with a balanced, slow release fertilizer another 4-5 weeks after the last application should carry you into winter months and establish a nice new lawn area.

• Clean up the weeds: Disturb the soil and combine that with plenty of water and fertilizer, and chances are you will have more growing in your seeded areas than just the desired grass seed you planted. No need to worry about annual grassy weeds like crabgrass that may show up: they will die as the frosts return and can be controlled the following spring with a pre-emergence product. Instead, focus more on the broadleaf weeds that me be invading your new seeding. Once the turf has been mowed 3-4 times, it is usually mature enough to handle a broadleaf weed herbicide application. Be sure to read the herbicide label closely to ensure maximum safety and effectiveness.

Key points I like to add myself about the article above. Aeration. Not a lot of people do this but it is up there interms of importance for lawn preparation. The soil should be soft and loose not rigid and compacted. Compacted lawns have a difficult time retaining water. The soil should be soft enough to hold water but not so much that it cannot drain it as well. Another thing is seed cannot penetrate a compacted lawn. Your lawn will get compacted over the year from the weather and traffic from people constantly walking on it so this is where aeration comes into play. Aeration plays a great role in allowing a compacted lawn get water and oxygen which it needs in order to establish a strong foundation for the lawns overall health.

Lime. I think there’s a lot of confusion among people on the usage of lime. It’s not used for moss killing I assure you(though it can prevent it). So what does lime do? It raises the PH in your soil, which is ABSOLUTELY CRUCIAL in having a healthy lawn. Because we live on the coast, our soil tends to be more sandy and sandy soil in general is more acidic(these kinds of lawns bleed out calcium). On top of that, it rains quite a bit in Vancouver/Burnaby so liming should be a staple to correct this imbalance.

As you can see in this diagram, the more acidic your lawn is(lower number) the higher the chance of weeds thriving increases as well as balding spots and yellow grass. Lime raises the ph to a high ph number, nearing 7 and the lawn will increasingly become more healthier. This concept can be easily compared to your own body. Eating too much acidic food or having acidic organs can cause health issues. The same applies to your lawn.

Laslty, which seed to pick for your situation? Most seed needs a minimum of 4 to 6 hours of sunlight to germinate properly IF they are heavily shade tolerant. Most seeds that are shade tolerant are rye and fescue. Other seeds that require more sun(6 and more hours of sun) tend to be less shade tolerant and are more difficult to grow throughout the year with poor weather conditions(this is where cool season and warm season seeds come into play). Just keep in mind most of the seed available from us are cold season seeds that work perfect in our climate in BC.

A list of our CPS Evergro seed products will be added to a later post shortly as well as the best uses for these seeds! We only sell Evergro seed. I am not plugging this product, but it is great and it looks absolutely beautiful when in full form.