Topdressing and Seeding Your Lawn
A common question this time of year for us is, “how do I top-dress and seed my lawn”. Spring seeding is not easy because of the competition of weed seeds and birds.
Begin in mid-May once the soil is dry enough. This will give your lawn enough time to establish before any hot, dry heat begins. You may choose to apply your seed in the fall instead, around September to mid-October when the seed is less likely to dry out. Applying at this time of year gives your seed the advantage of establishing during two seasons (winter and spring) before the summer heat sets in.
Here are a couple tips to help you get started. Pull any weeds prior to over-seeding your lawn, and aerate the soil that remains. Rake the surface to rid any depressions that may hold water, and loosen the top 2 to 3 inches of soil. For overseeding an existing lawn, be sure the mow the lawn first, then loosen up the soil in the bare areas. Remove all debris and break up large soil clumps.
Use a black organic soil that is easy to rake out evenly. Adams Twin City Mix soil is perfect for seeding, as it is four parts peatmoss, one part compost and one part soil. It Is light enough to rake out across the lawn, but has peatmoss for water retention.
Dump the soil on the grass in small piles evenly around the yard or have your soil delivered in Adams Easy Bags that can be set out for you at time of delivery. Use a garden rake to level soil in the yard and spread evenly.
Once the topdressing is completed you can seed away. Generally we recommend that 5 pounds of grass seed will cover 1000 square feet. Distribute the grass seed as evenly as possible, and apply in a cross pattern in the soil bed that is no more than 3 inches deep – apply half the seed travelling back and forth, then cross your first pattern at 90 degrees and spread the remaining half. For effective coverage to achieve a thick full lawn, 12 to 16 seeds per square inch should be applied. Too many seeds too close together causes seedlings to fight for room and nutrients resulting in thin or weak grass patches.
You can spread grass seed with a mechanical spreader or by hand. Use a leaf rake or fan rake in an upside down position to lightly sow the seed into the soil. Please remember that we do not plant lawn seed we sow seed into position – seed will not emerge if it is any deeper than 2 mm (1/16 inches) below surface.
Lawn seed likes to be damp in moisture but does not like to be wet all the time. Watering the seed continuously will cause seed rot. All you need is the seed and soil to have small amounts of moisture to germinate. Lawn seed requires one last thing to help it germinate, which is heat! Most lawn seeds in Ontario will not germinate until we have 15 to 20 days of continuous temperatures over 20 degrees. Once the new grass is established, water the grass regularly to keep roots moist.
Lastly, do not hesitate to fertilize the grass seed once you start to see the new green shoots. We like to use a fertilizer with a 65% slow release rate. This means the seed will be fertilized over a period of time instead of one straight shot of nitrogen.
Good luck with your seeding projects and remember to always sow seed and never plant it.