Whether you are touching up patchy areas on your lawn or are starting over from scratch, planting grass seeds can be a difficult task if you don’t know what you are doing. One of the most important steps when planting grass seed is properly preparing the ground, otherwise various problems may develop such as weeds developing, poor drainage, or the seeds failing to germinate.
Here are some tips for preparing the ground for grass seed:
You will need the following:
- Grass seeds
- Glyphosate weed killer
- Rotavator (optional but highly recommended)
- Turf cutter (optional but means a lot less digging!)
- Soil amendments (if needed)
Apply Weed Killer
Buy a good glyphosate weed killer and apply this to the lawn or the ground where the seeds are going. This kills off most of the growth with ease before degrading into the ground without leaving any residue, so it makes your job a lot easier – just make sure to use it during growing season otherwise it won’t work that well.
Remove Leftover Turf
After waiting a few weeks for the weed killer to work its magic, you can now start to remove any of the leftover turf with a spade. You can hire equipment for this, such as a turf cutter, which makes the process quicker and less arduous, although it will increase costs.
Just bear in mind the increased time and effort of doing this manually, although it may not be much of an issue if only treating lawn patches or working with a smaller sized lawn.
It’s worth noting that you will want to remove any stones, roots, and other debris found in the soil from this point forward. Expect to do this a few times at different stages of preparation, especially if your old lawn wasn’t the best quality.
Dig or Rotavate Soil
Much like the previous step, you can use a spade to rotavate the soil or use a machine called a rotavator. The latter is highly recommended – you can hire one for a reasonably low price – as it makes the entire process much easier and will leave the ground better prepared for seeds.
If digging, you’ll need to double dig so prepare for a lot of hard work, while a rotavator can simply be pushed across the ground with minimal effort.
Regardless of what method you use, make sure to rotavate the soil between 15-20cm across the entire area being planted in, going over a second time to ensure it is thoroughly treated. You can go a bit shallower at around 10cm, although it’s worth going deeper as it ensures better root development.
A few chunks will probably be leftover so just work these down using a fork to make everything uniform.
Add Fertiliser and Soil Amendments
Once the ground has been rotavated you can add some good compost to enrich the soil. You may also want to add some further soil amendments, although you will want to get your soil tested to see what it might need.
For instance, lime is a popular amendment that decreases the acidity of the soil, adds calcium, and magnesium to encourage healthier growth, although you may not need it depending on the pH of the soil prior to planting the seeds.
Rake and Tread the Soil
Once the soil is suitably prepared, you want to level it out using a rake. The goal is to create a smooth surface for the seeds to be planted in, so take the time to carefully level everything out using a rake.
Now it is time to tread the soil, which is basically patting it down using your feet to make it firmer for planting. It can take a bit of time to complete but will significantly improve the lawn quality as it reduces air pockets and reduces the chances of parts of the lawn sinking over time.
Put all your weight into your heels and start to tread over all the top soil on the ground. Be thorough – you want every square inch firm and level!
Finish preparing the ground with a final raking to level out any dumps and divots that may have developing when treading. You can also opt to treat for a second time in a different direction, although this is only necessary if you want an ornamental lawn.
Increase Moisture if Necessary
This is only needed if the soil appeared dry during the previous stages, which is possible if you are seeding in the spring or summer. If so, gently add moisture by watering with a garden hose spray gun and leaving for a few days.
You want it to be nice and moist before seeding because if you water too much after seeding then they may get washed away!
I am the editor of Lawn Mower Hut and produce most of the content on the site. I have over 25 years experience in the gardening industry and have worked in multiple roles throughout that time. My passions are gardening and golfing. If you have any questions please get in touch I will be happy to help.