Last Updated on May 10, 2021
Hoping to improve how your lawn looks? The grass is a great start for this. In this article, we’re sharing our best advice on how to prepare soil for grass seed.
For pre-seeding, there are some important factors to bear in mind. Here’s how to achieve a beautiful lawn that you’ll be proud of (without having to hire a professional to take care of it for you).
The first thing to do before sowing grass seed is to treat and remove any present weeds. In most cases, you won’t be able to kill all of the weeds on your lawn, but you must treat them at least at a level surface. Before you lay your seedbed, you want to clear as many weeds as possible, so your new lawn is healthy and luscious. We recommend using a herbicide for the best effect as this kills weeds at the roots. Some cheaper killers make the leaves brown, but that’s it, so you still end up with a lawn full of weeds.
When you spritz the weed killer to your lawn, ensure that you’re wearing protective gear, such as eyewear, shoes, and gloves. Try not to stand in the solution, as this could spread across your grass and potentially kill your plants and even new grass seed. In fact, avoid tackling weeds when there’s a wind present, as this could change the direction and target your plants instead.
Clear the Area and Remove Dead Leaves, Etc.
After you’ve targeted as many weeds as possible in your garden, it’s time for a clear-up. This step entails raking away any dead leaves that may have fallen onto larger areas as well as removing any debris, such as stones, sand and general waste that may have calculated on your lawn.
Furthermore, you’ll want to dig over the soil if it’s very compacted. By doing this, you’ll promote the essential soil microbes for a healthier new lawn in the long run. However, if you don’t know if your soil is compacted, push a 15 cm screwdriver into the surface to see how far in it will go. If you can only reach a shallow point, your soil is compacted, and it needs rotovating.
Test Your Soils pH Levels
Your soil must have the optimal pH levels for grass seed. Fortunately, this process isn’t too complex or time-consuming, and you can do it manually. Add 60 g vinegar to a cup of soil. Then, add 60 g baking soda to another cup of soil. Then you can watch for the reaction between both cups to determine the soil’s pH levels. If it reacts to the vinegar, your soil is alkaline. But if it responds to the baking soda, you have acidic soil. Testing the pH levels of your soil allows you to raise or lower it for the best growing conditions. Grass needs a pH range of 6.5–7 for the best growing conditions.
Raise the pH
You can raise your grass’s pH levels using wood ash (this is a natural approach to increasing the pH levels). Put wood ash over your soil, mixing it into a depth of around one inch.
Lower the pH
Alternatively, you can lower your soil’s pH levels using aluminium sulphate for a quick and effective option. This matter dissolves almost instantly to produce a more acidic soil, although you shouldn’t use this in large quantities due to potential toxicity.
What Is Rotovating and How Do You Do It?
Rotovating is a method of using a rotavator—a powerful garden tool. This tool breaks up soil to improve drainage, perfect the area for growing crops, and allow seeds to germinate.
Before using a rotavator, you should check your soil’s moisture levels—particularly if this is the first time using this gardening method. In fact, if this is your first time rotovating, water the lawn several days before you plan on cultivating to soften your lawn.
When it’s time to rotovate, pull the machine forward and work lengthways across your lawn, avoiding flowers and vegetables along the way. You may need to repeat this process several times, although, sometimes, three times is enough for then planting a lawn. You can adjust the handlebars sideways on a rotavator, which means that you don’t have to tread on the new turf and change the height to suit you.
Additionally, ensure that you take preparation seriously before you rotavate. This includes wearing protective footwear (preferably with a steel toe cap) and not wearing any loose clothing that could get trapped in the gardening machine. You should also keep your feet far from the machine and don’t apply a lot of pressure to the handlebars, which can stimulate vibrations and cause the machine to jump. Finally, never rotavate if your lawn has a 20-degree angle or higher as you can quickly lose control of operating the machine, resulting in your safety is in danger.
Get the Tools You Need for Ground Preparation
Once your soil is nearly ready for the grass seed, it’s time to reach for every tool you need. This includes sprinklers (if you’ll be installing time), PVC pipe, fertiliser (for the nutrients), grass seed, and, if applicable, gloves. You may also want to purchase a spreader easily and accurately, dispersing the seed onto a large surface area.
The soil for grass seed needs to not be too hard once it’s prepared for the seeds. Otherwise, your new lawn won’t grow well. In fact, grass seeds won’t grow if the soil isn’t soft, so you’ll need to soften the soil if it’s not soft already. Also, if the soil has lumps or bumps in it with weeds sprouting through, you’ll need to roll and flatten out the soil in preparation for the grass seed.
Will Grass Seed Grow if You Just Throw It on the Ground?
The short answer to this is no. Simply throwing grass seed onto your garden will result in poor germination and possibly an uneven grass result. Throwing grass seeds on the soil will still make them grow, but you’ll likely have a poor-quality lawn compared to placing the seed onto soil that’s had excellent preparation.
In particular, if you haven’t prepared your soil properly, the seeds’ roots won’t grow deep into the surface, which will result in an average-looking lawn, not to mention requiring more maintenance for you.
One effective way to plant the grass seeds is by scattering them evenly onto the soil and then treading on top to grow fully. Once the seeds begin to sprout, you should water less often but deeply to encourage optimal root growth.
When the grass is new, it won’t require raking as it will germinate on top of the soil, and when seeds are too deep, they won’t grow. You should also water them often before they sprout to encourage a soft surface surrounding the area for the best results. But when the grass is new, don’t overwater the area as this can drown the seeds and leave the soil too wet. Additionally, plant the grass seed at a depth of at least one inch. If you don’t notice any growth after several weeks of scattering the seeds on the lawn, you may need to dry out the soil by not watering it as much and as often. We also recommend waiting a few weeks before mowing your lawn to protect the seeds’ roots and continue to encourage growth.
What Happens if Your Grass Isn’t Growing?
In the event that your turf isn’t growing at the speed you want, there could be several reasons for this (some of which might be out of your control). For example, it’s common for wildlife to sniff out the seeds and eat them when they’re scatted on top of the soil. This is also a critical reason to place your seeds deeper into the ground to prevent losing grass seed to animals.
Prepare Your Garden
Now that you’ve heard our advice on how to prepare soil for grass seed, you know that you should treat weeds and remove any fallen debris. Checking your soil’s pH level is also an important step to take before sowing grass seed.
Now that you can create the perfect soil conditions any time of year, we’d love to discover how you create a suitable environment for your grass seed. Share your methods on creating a green, healthy, nutritious lawn in the comments.