View Full Version : How best to seed when top-dressing a lawn

Five Diamond Lawns
01-17-2005, 02:44 PM
have been struggling with how to best seed when I top-dress a lawn. In the past I have always seeded after and if it was in the dry months spread pete moss to hold in the moisture. Now I'm looking for a different way.

I've looked at mixing it in with the topsoil before I spread it but that's a big haste, though I'll do it if it takes the place of the pete moss.

The other thought is to spread it between the aeration step and the spreading of the topsoil (note I'm only spreading 1/4" to 1/2" of topsoil and compost mix)

Gerry Miller
01-17-2005, 03:11 PM
I have had great success using compost or dehydrated cow manure when I overseeded. I would not suggest using peat moss as it very difficult to hydrate and it's antibacterial in nature. You want something that is just the opposite. I know lots of people use peat moss, but I never use the stuff. It actually repels water when dry.

I would aerate, apply the topdressing and then overseed. Im always afraid that I'll be burying the seed to deeply if I seed before the topdressing. People do it both ways and have success. I've also read that applying compost tea after seeding will increase seed germination rate and speed up the germination process.

Garden Panzer
01-17-2005, 03:19 PM
DON'T use manure on lawns... it's got LOT'S of weed seeds.... one can buy a hydroseeder that sits in a pick up truck, and blow seed....

Five Diamond Lawns
01-17-2005, 03:33 PM
Nice replies but I can't see spreading seed after top-dressing without putting something over it to keep in moisture and keep birds away.

01-17-2005, 04:52 PM
Birds are not as mucha problem as you think -- a whole flock of birds are only going to eat small portion of the millions of seeds you put down. And, peat moss is a poor choice to cover seeds because it actually wicks the moisture away from seedlings and dries out VERY fast.

You'll find just about the only people who encourage peat mss for seeding anymore is people who sell it and people who listen to thsoe who sell it.

Gerry Miller
01-17-2005, 04:55 PM
I've never had a problem with birds, however, I can see that being a problem for some. You are suppose to better watering a few times a day anyway for the first week. It will stay moist from the watering. You can't just cover it up and forget about it. You still have to water.

01-17-2005, 04:59 PM
Thanks Gerry, I didn't realize you have to water the seed. That must be my problem.

01-17-2005, 08:15 PM
Yes hammons, you need to water the seed, at least once a week!!!

01-17-2005, 08:18 PM
That must be why the dozens of acres I seeded this Fall look so bad now -- I read the directions on the bag nad it never said to water

01-18-2005, 07:00 PM
I hope y'all are joking about watering :dizzy:

Here's the organic reseeding plan that seems to work.

Pick a seed that is adapted to the climate and conditions
Scalp the turf
Apply seed at 1.5 times the recommended amount
Top dress with sand or compost at 1 cubic yard per 1,000 square feet mixed with 10 pounds of organic fertilizer or alfalfa meal per cubic yard (don't use corn meal)
Roll down with a water filled roller
Water twice a day for the first three days
Water once a day after the first three days until the grass sprouts to 50%
Back off on watering to every other day until you first mow
When the grass is over 3 inches tall (preferably 4) mow to 3 inches
Don't fertilize again for at least 2 months

I would think this is common knowledge but here's the basic theory on reseeding. The seed has to be one that works well in the conditions it's going into. Don't put bermuda in the north or in the shade. Don't put bluegrass in Southern Arizona. Secondly the seeds needs to see the sun to sprout. That's why you scalp the grass first. Unless you are reseeding there is never a reason to scalp a lawn. The compost top dressing provides just a minimal amount of improved moisture holding capacity. Don't use manure, wet or dried; you need fully composted, sweet smelling compost. The alfalfa meal will provide food for the beneficial microbes. Corn meal, even ordinary corn meal, has been shown in a few trials to prevent substantial amounts of seed from sprouting and growing to any size, so don't use it when reseeding. Then roll the seed so that you ensure your seed is in contact with the soil. Roots will not grow into the air. Watering is, of course, necessary for seed germination. At first the seeds need to be continually wet. After they break the seed coating you can scale back on the water. Then let the grass grow to some sort of 'maturity' before mowing. It is by no means mature at 3 inches but at least the roots should be deep enough to keep the grass from pulling out if you have a dull or slow mower.

01-18-2005, 08:50 PM
Yes David a joke --

A joke that someone would come on a commercail lawn care boards and tell me that I have to water grass to get ti to germinate

Now I realize that many of these people are homeowners who come from [homeowner oriented gardening sites] -- this needs to be more clearly stated somehow. What works great on your one lawn cannot neccessarily be transferred over to be done on hundreds of lawns you simultaneously care for.

---------- Moderator's note: Sorry Jeff but I took the liberty of editing the text between the brackets. You had named another website with a forum. I'm not sure how seriously Sean takes this stuff but he does have that rule asking us not to mention outsite forums. I agree with the general idea of somehow identifying the pros and the amateurs. For the most part I think it has been pretty obvious. Using your business name in your signature helps. -David (amateur)

01-18-2005, 08:52 PM
Moisture is the key ingredient for seed germination, the amount of sunlite seems to have little bearing. I can keep the lid closed on my hydroseeder and in a week see long strands of white grass growing inside it. (it will also smell like a dead skunk). This is with absolutely no sunlite at all. All seeds contain certain preemergent chemicals that prevents eairly germination. The moisture is needed to flush these chemicals out of the seeds. Certain bacteria will also help or speed up germination because they help break down the cellose fiber that surrounds the seed. This permits faster flushing of the preemergent chemicals contained inside the seed. Improper watering has probably caused more seeding failures than any other single factor. People either dont water or water to much. Once the seed germinates water is needed to help supply nutrients to the young seedling. To much water will actually smother or drown the seed. The new seeding cant produce its own food and uses oxygen to help do so. Watering just enough to keep the soil damp during the day and letting the surface dryout at nite will promote good oxygen exchange between the seed and the air. Letting the seed dry out completey will have the same effect it would have on a human. A slow death or in the case of new seeding, a fast death. Covering the seed with straw, compost, peatmoss ect. is meant to conserve moisture and control erosion but, if proper watering techniques are observed, the soil shouldnt erode nor should the seeds dry out. In this case the covering of the seed wouldnt be needed. But as often is the case, people will water to the point that the soil erodes or they wont water at all, or stop watering once they see a little green.

trying 2b organic
01-20-2005, 02:50 PM
Ive had great results with a thin skimming of peat moss. At first I did it to protect the seed from birds. Then upon closer inspection I noticed that the seedlings that had been covered with peat moss had a better germination rate and were growing faster. This is due to the fact that the peat moss helps retain moisture. Given the fact that my customers do not spend nearly as much time thinking about the ideal way and amount to water new grass as we do I have found it very worthwhile using a bit of peat moss.

Try putting peat moss in only one section. Check the area as compared to the rest at 3 days, 7 days, and 2 weeks. (for P. Rye)