Did I kill my grass seed before it grew?

(Question)

Hi,

About 2 weeks ago I put some fertilizer on my lawn. A couple days later I put some grass seed and raked it around. A day later (maybe 2 days later) I added soil to the grass seeds on the lawn. By leaving my grass seed out on my lawn (I did water them) without the soil did I kill the grass seed? When I examine the lawn, I notice only a few small patches of seed have sprouted, while I spread it all around generously. I didn’t water it every day since it seemed to rain a bit most days, or I forgot. My goal this year is to rehabilitate my lawn. As a follow up question, I heard it is best to water your lawn/garden in the morning – is this accurate?

Thanks,
– Carmen.

 

(Answer)

Thank You for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners with your question on lawn care.

As a rule of thumb it is not recommended that you put grass seed down soon after applying lawn fertilizer as it is caustic to the seedlings.  Waiting just two days is not sufficient for the fertilizer to properly dissipate. Wating at least 2 week would be more advisable.

The proper steps in applying lawn seed to dead or bare spots in the lawn would be as follows;

– first you want to clear of the ground of dead debris and grass, so that when you do spread the seeds they come in direct contact with the ground. Also it is a good idea to scratch up the ground, and also ensure that it is not compacted.

– Remove any weeds, but avoid using any spot herbicides on areas where you are going to seed.

– Then after you apply the grass seed, it is a good idea to top dress the seed with a light covering of top soil. This will help retain moisture around the seeds, and also you will be donating fewer seeds to birds and rodents.

– Regular watering in the morning is correct on days that you do not receive rain, although you might want to back off on that a bit for shady areas or if there is poor drainage.

– Once you see seedlings germinate , then start to back off on watering to alternate days for another week, before resuming normal irrigation practices that suite your environment. Remember to water less frequently, but for longer periods. This will encourage deeper root development and also discourage disease.

Enjoy your green lawn !