Sowing lawn seed in Spring
Author: Stefan Palm Date Posted: 7 October 2020
Spring is the best time to establish a new lawn from seed. It's by far the cheapest way to get yourself a new lawn and it’s a whole lot easier than you think!
Timing when you sow seed is important because the soil needs to be a minimum temperature for most seed types to germinate, especially when it comes to warm season varieties such as couch and kikuyu making Spring the best time to ensure that whatever you sow has the best chance of germinating. Spring weather has the best of both worlds – Good amounts of rain and, of course the sun comes out and warms up the soil without the extreme temperatures of Summer. With the recent La Nina weather pattern announced for Australia, we can expect a wetter than usual Spring and Summer which is good news when it comes to germinating lawn seed. It means less chance of of it drying out during germination.
What varieties are available?
There are not as many varieties of seed as there are varieties of turf however there is still plenty to choose from, the most popular types being Bermuda Couch, Kikuyu, tall fescue, rye and bent grass. You can buy these as pure varieties or as blended combinations. Kikuyu seed is often blended with fescue and couch seed is often blended with rye grass. These combinations complement each other and ensure a fast germination and even coverage.
How much will it cost?
Seed is typically be less than 10% of the cost of instant turf. Expect to pay around $20 for a kilogram of good quality, blended seed which will cover around 25 square metres. Turf to do the same area will cost $225-$300, depending on the variety.
What can you expect?
Expect to have to water - a lot! The most critical element to sowing a lawn is water – you don’t have to water for long periods but you do have to water at regular intervals through the day during the germination period. If your seed begins to germinate then dries out, it will most probably die. It’s the leading cause of seed failure. When this happens, it’s easy to think to yourself, “I must have had a bad batch of seed”. Almost all the seed that comes into Australia comes from the USA and is certified by the Australian Government to have a minimum purity and a minimum germination meaning that is very unlikely that you’re going to buy dud seed. If it doesn’t germinate, in most cases it was either too cold or it didn’t get watered frequently enough so keep that in mind when you’re planning to sow seed. If you're not home during the day, invest in a simple, automated tap timer to turn the sprinkler on when you're out.
Expect some weeds. When you fertilise the soil and then add lawn seed and water, you not only create ideal conditions for lawn seed to germinate, you're also making it perfect for weed seeds too. If weeds germinate, you can hand pull them but don't apply any herbicides for at least 8 weeks after sowing.
Expect to oversow. When sowing seed, you will most likely need to oversow at the 6 week mark. This is because some won't germinate, some will get eaten by birds an ants will carry of their share too. Resist the urge to do it before the six week mark as you'll be surprised how much it thickens up as it starts to mature.
How to sow lawn seed:
Sowing seed isn’t complicated. If you sow seed now, you can expect to have a mature lawn before Christmas. Generally speaking the warmer the weather, the more frequently you have to water. The minimum is twice per day however when you get into the mid 20’s, then an additional water in the middle of the day is essential. Once the temperature hits the 30’s then 4 times per day is required. I probably wouldn’t attempt sowing seed in the high 30’s – you’d be out there all day watering!
Germination times range from 7-10 days for a rye grass to 3 weeks for a kikuyu which means you need to keep up this watering intensity for at least 2-3 weeks.
We’ve created some handy resources to walk you through the steps involved in sowing a lawn. Click here for more info or watch the video below: