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How To Sow Grass Seed

It takes longer than turfing, but establishing a new lawn with grass seed costs less and is eminently satisfying. With seed you also have a greater choice of grass seed types available to create a lawn to suit different uses and conditions.

For the average urban garden you can’t go wrong with a good quality utility grass seed that has good disease resistance and high wear tolerance. Whichever type of grass seed you choose, sowing it and caring for it as it germinates and grows into a beautiful green carpet follows the same process for all.


It’s worth investing time and effort in the preparation of a perfect seedbed for your new lawn – perfect preparation results in a lush, even lawn.

Start out by clearing the area of ALL plant growth and debris – stones and weeds especially have to be thoroughly eradicated, even if you have to use a systemic (non-residual) weed killer.

Dig the cleared area over with a garden fork, breaking down any hard lumps of soil. If you’re seeding a large area you can save yourself some hard work by using a powered rotavator. While you’re digging over the soil (which you should do down to about 20-25cm (8-10 inches) add in some well-rotted manure or compost – especially on sandy soil – which will hold moisture. If the soil is muddy digging in some sand will help with drainage. Poor soil can be beefed up with the addition of some good top soil or a soil conditioner.

Once you’ve cleared your patch for seeding leave it for a few days (at least – preferably longer) to settle. Then before you start sowing, have another weeding session and level the surface (soil should be fine and crumbly) – treading it and raking it several times in different directions.

Finally, rake in some general purpose fertiliser, then keep off the cultivated area until you’re ready to start sowing your grass seed.


Seed germinates most quickly in early autumn and mid-spring when the soil is warm, moist and the weather not too hot or too cold. The grass sowing season in the UK however runs from mid-March through to September. Plan ahead though and check a long-range weather forecast to make sure you won’t hit a sudden temperature drop or heatwave when you plan to sow your seed. You also need to pick a day that isn’t windy, or the seed could scatter to the four corners of the earth! It it’s particularly hot when you sow your seeds make sure to water the soil well before and after sowing.


Grass seed can be spread by hand, but it can’t be just scattered randomly. You will need to calculate the correct seed quantity for the area. Your seed supplier will have provided you with a recommendation of how many grams per square metre you should sow – or ounces of seed per square yard.

A good tip is to take four bamboo canes of 1metre (or a yard) in length and tie them together at the corners to create a square frame which you can lay on the ground to demarcate a measured sowing area.

Measure out the seed quantity for each square metre or square yard, and spread it evenly. You could use a seed spreader if you are covering a large area.

Don’t be tempted to seed more thickly than advised – this will only cause the close-packed seeds to rot and die.


It is best not to cover grass seed with soil after sowing, because the seeds need light to germinate. All that is required is a light raking after sowing to ensure the seeds are mixed with the soil, and then tamp the seeded soil down with a light roller or by treading it in. This ensures good seed-to-soil contact to encourage germination.


Grass seed germinates at different rates, depending on the type of grass, and the weather and soil conditions. In ideal conditions, with sufficient sunshine, water, temperatures above 10 degrees, and good ground preparation, you ought to see grass shooting within 10 days of sowing. It will take six to eight weeks for the new lawn to be fully established with full coverage. For the first six weeks its advisable to stay off of the grass.

Water daily for the first six weeks (unless it rains) without making the ground waterlogged or washing the seeds away.

Once the grass has grown to between 5cm and 8cm tall you can give it its first mowing, with the mower on a high setting to just trim off the tips of the shoots. Regular mowing will encourage the lawn to thicken.

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