If you want your lawn to look thick, green and beautiful, then overseeding will help to achieve that. Even when you’re planting a brand new lawn, proper seeding techniques will ensure that the lawn thrives. But a lot of people simply throw the seeds onto the ground and leave them. But does grass seed have to be buried or can you sow it on top of the soil?
It is possible to sow grass seed on top of the soil but this isn’t the best option. This could leave it open to being washed away or eaten by birds so it’s better to bury it.
Using some mulch to cover the seeded areas of your lawn will help to protect it and yield far better results. In this guide, we will explain everything you need to know.
Do you bury grass seed? Well, the truth is that you could just sprinkle the seeds on top of your lawn and you might get some growth. But this certainly won’t be the best and it could end up being patchy as many seeds would be washed away by watering and rainfall while others might simply become bird food.
For this reason, it is much better to bury your grass seeds and give them the best chance of germinating and growing into a thick healthy lawn.
Burying the seeds protects them from the elements. Although, if you are overseeding and there are other shoots of grass around, these will offer a degree of protection. But this won’t be as effective as burying the seeds.
Why Should You Bury Grass Seeds?
There are a number of reasons that we would recommend burying your grass seed. It can take anywhere between a few days and a several weeks for grass seeds to germinate and in order for this process to happen, the conditions need to be right. Things like soil temperature and moisture are particularly important.
Here are some of the top reasons that you’ll want to cover your grass seeds when sowing them.
- Root development: it is possible for some seeds to sprout if they are not covered. However, you will likely notice that they aren’t able to establish their roots as well which can make the seedlings more vulnerable. When grass only has shallow roots, it won’t be able to access nutrients and water as easily. Plus, the shoots can be more easily dislodged when you mow.
- Birds: we love having birds in the garden but they can be a pain when it comes to grass seed. If you don’t cover the grass seeds then they are left open to birds who will take them as food. Other wildlife might also come and take advantage of this smorgasbord so it’s better to protect them and leave out other food for the birds.
- Seeds washing away: keep in mind that it could take as long as four weeks for your grass seeds to germinate. During this time, there will likely be some rain and this can wash away your grass seeds. Not only will this take away from the lawn but it might also mean that the seeds germinate where you don’t want them to.
How Deep Should Grass Seeds Be Buried?
Grass seeds don’t need to be buried very deep in the ground. Generally speaking, you will be able to cover them with just ¼ to ½ inch of soil. In fact, if you put them any deeper than this, the seedlings will struggle to come through so it’s important not to go over the top.
That said, if you don’t add enough cover over the top then you’ll still have similar problems to not burying them at all.
Make sure that you evenly distribute the seeds before covering them with soil. The best way to do this is to use a spreader. There are lots of different types but which you choose will depend on things like the size of the lawn.
If you have a larger lawn then something like a rotary spreader will work well. However, you might consider a drop spreader where you need the seed application to be more precise.
Preparing The Soil
It’s no good throwing a load of grass seed down without first preparing the soil. Not doing this won’t give your lawn the best start so it’s essential to take these steps.
One of the first things you’ll need to do is to test the PH level of the soil. This will tell you whether you need to add anything to create the most suitable conditions for the seed. Ideally, the pH should be somewhere between 6.2 and 7.0. If needed, you can add lime to the soil to alter the pH.
You can buy pH test kits either online or in most good garden stores. Not only will this help to create the best conditions but it will also mean that you don’t need to fertilize as aggressively which will save you money in the long run.
Also make sure that you properly aerate your lawn. If you have a heavy clay soil then this is especially important as aeration will allow oxygen to flow more around this dense soil and will allow the seeds to make better contact with it. Yards where there is a lot of heavy traffic on the lawn should also be aerated.
Mulch Options To Cover Grass Seed
When it comes to choosing the right cover for your grass seed, the good news is that you aren’t short on options. Keep in mind that there are pros and cons to each choice so you’ll need to choose something that’s right for your garden.
Here are some of the most effective types of mulch for burying your grass seed.
- Topsoil or compost: this is perhaps one of the easiest and most simple ways to protect your seeds. You can buy topsoil and compost from garden stores and even your local supermarket. For bigger jobs, garden stores will usually offer home delivery when you need to buy in bulk. What’s great about this material is that it’s bursting with nutrients and will fertilize the seedlings. It’s also incredibly easy to use and can be applied with the same spreader you used for the seed.
- Straw mulch: if you are looking for an affordable way to cover your grass seed (and with the cost of living rising so rapidly, who isn’t?) then straw is a brilliant option. You only need a light layer and this will offer protection from water and birds. Ensure that the layer of straw is nice and loose to promote good air circulation and make sure that the straw doesn’t have any seeds in it otherwise you may end up with weeds. When the seeds are sprouted, you will need to remove the straw.
- Bagged mulch for grass seed: you can buy bagged mulch for a variety of different purposes so it is important to make sure that you choose one that’s intended for use on lawns. This type will be light enough for delicate grass seed so always avoid using something heavy like bark.
- Grass clippings: your lawn can actually help itself to thrive and by adding a layer of grass clippings over the new seeds, this will offer excellent protection as well as delivering nutrients to the lawn. In the months leading up to reseeding, save and dry out your lawn clippings and then spread them over the top of the seeds. Again, make sure to use a light layer.
How Long Does Grass Seed Germination Take?
As long as you have buried your grass seeds deeply enough, they should start to sprout in as little as two weeks. Although, keep in mind that anything up to four weeks is considered normal. If you don’t bury the seeds then there is a risk of them not germinating at all because of erosion. So again, we will press the importance of burying your grass seeds.
You will need to make sure that you appropriately water the seeds as well if you want them to germinate within this time frame. You see, if you water them too heavily, this could wash them out of place so light watering is preferred.
In order for grass seed to properly germinate, it should be buried beneath a layer of mulch. While it may sprout without being covered, there are risks that you will lose a lot of seed to things like birds and rainfall.