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How best to seed when top-dressing a lawn

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by Five Diamond Lawns, Jan 17, 2005.

  1. Five Diamond Lawns

    Five Diamond Lawns LawnSite Member
    Messages: 197

    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)
  2. Gerry Miller

    Gerry Miller LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 504

    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.
  3. Garden Panzer

    Garden Panzer Banned
    from Seattle
    Messages: 313

    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....
  4. Five Diamond Lawns

    Five Diamond Lawns LawnSite Member
    Messages: 197

    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.
  5. Hamons

    Hamons LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 706

    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.
  6. Gerry Miller

    Gerry Miller LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 504

    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.
  7. Hamons

    Hamons LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 706

    Thanks Gerry, I didn't realize you have to water the seed. That must be my problem.
  8. Yes hammons, you need to water the seed, at least once a week!!!
  9. Hamons

    Hamons LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 706

    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
  10. Dchall_San_Antonio

    Dchall_San_Antonio LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 327

    I hope y'all are joking about watering :dizzy:

    Here's the organic reseeding plan that seems to work.
    1. Pick a seed that is adapted to the climate and conditions
    2. Scalp the turf
    3. Apply seed at 1.5 times the recommended amount
    4. 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)
    5. Roll down with a water filled roller
    6. Water twice a day for the first three days
    7. Water once a day after the first three days until the grass sprouts to 50%
    8. Back off on watering to every other day until you first mow
    9. When the grass is over 3 inches tall (preferably 4) mow to 3 inches
    10. 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.

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