Worn patches in the lawn? Thinning sward? It happens. Especially if your lawn gets used as often as it ought. It’s not a problem though. Repairing your lawn with grass seed is as easy as A-B-C
The ABC of repairing a lawn with grass seed
Repairing a Lawn with grass seed is done in 3 simple steps:
- Create the right conditions for the seed to grow.
- Choose the right grass seed
- Sow the seed and watch it grow
A: Create the right conditions for the seed to grow.
Before you start, mow the whole lawn and remove the clippings. Then you can see what you’re dealing with and the seeds you are about to plant can see the sunlight. If you have a lot of moss or thatch in your lawn, get a scarifier and remove it.
If your lawn is thin or has bare patches, ten-to-one it’s because the soil beneath it is compacted. That means there are no air-spaces between the soil particles, water can’t drain away properly and roots can’t survive. So your first job is to tackle the compaction.
Aeration is the best way to solve compaction problems. Some folks advocate using a garden fork to pierce holes into the soil. Lawn expert David Hedges-Gower disagrees. He feels that spiking the lawn just creates lots of holes with compacted sides and much prefers using an aerator. An aerator punches fairly deep into the topsoil and lifts out a series of soil cores. It leaves behind little sausages of soil and some holes. You can buy aerators fairly cheaply online.
Once the aeration is done, leave the cores (soil sausages) to dry for a few hours and then use a stiff broom to break them down into a tilth. A besom broom is perfect for this job. You might want to add some good quality topsoil at this stage, especially if your own garden soil is heavy clay.
Now is the time to boost the soil nutrient levels. May as well do the whole lawn while you’re at it. If you’re seeding in spring (which is an ideal time for lawn repairs), apply a good quality spring-summer lawn feed.
B: Choose the right grass seed
It’s important to have the right sort of grass seed when doing repairs. Ideally, the colour and texture of the new grass will match what’s already there. That’s not always easy to do. If you created the lawn in the first place you might be able to remember the grass varieties or the seedmix you used. If not, you’ll need to make an educated guess.
For a hardwearing, family lawn. Go for a grass seed mix that contains dwarf perennial ryegrasses. Those are amongst the most commonly used lawn grasses and will probably blend in beautifully.
For an ornamental lawn where the grass blades are really thin and delicate looking you need a mix of chewings fescues and browntop bents.
In the shade, Turfonline offer a seed called “Shadesman”. It won’t blend in well on a fine lawn, but on a family lawn it should be OK. It will last a long time too.
C: Sow the seed and watch it grow
The easiest mistake to make when sowing grass seed is to use too much. All you need to do is sprinkle it thinly over the prepared soil. If you sow it too thickly, as the seeds germinate the new plants will be too crowded and they won’t thrive. Don’t worry about being miserly. Believe me, you really can have too much of a good thing. Most grass seed suppliers give guidelines on how much seed to sow. Follow them.
Grass seed doesn’t need to be covered with soil but it does need to be protected from birds. It helps if you can peg a layer of fine mesh over the area. Shade netting is ideal. It lets light and water through to where they’re needed but birds (and cats) can’t disturb the seed.
Finally, water well and be sure to keep the area moist until the seedlings are well established. Remove that shade netting as soon as you can see green fuzz.