Are you looking to establish a new lawn or fill in some brown patches? Don’t just throw some grass seed on the ground and hope for the best. If you want to end up with lush, green grass try mixing grass seed with compost
While compost can boost grass seed growth, there is a right way to add this amendment. We’ll cover how to apply compost to get the best results.
How Does Mixing Grass Seed with Compost Help?
Planting a lawn from grass seed has a number of advantages over using sod. You can choose a grass species of your choice, it doesn’t cost much money, and you can cover oddly shaped areas.
However, getting grass seed to germinate and grow into a healthy lawn can be tricky. Adding compost can help make this process a little easier.
Compost boosts the organic matter in the native soil. As the organic matter increases, both the physical, biological, and chemical properties of your soil will improve.
These changes lead to the following benefits:
- Increased aeration and drainage
- Improved water infiltration, leading to less runoff and erosion
- Better nutrient-holding capacity
- Improved soil biology which leads to increased nutrient availability
As you can see, it makes sense to add some compost with your grass seed!
What Type of Compost Should I Use With Grass Seed?
One type of compost isn’t necessarily better than another. The right compost for you depends on what’s available in your area, how much you have to spend, your native soil, and other factors.
To help determine the right compost to add with your grass seed, there are a few factors to consider.
First, make sure you check the pH of your compost and soil. Most types of grass perform best at a pH of 6.5-7.0.
If your soil is outside this range after you add compost, you’ll need to make some adjustments. You can apply lime to raise the pH and sulfur to lower the pH.
Another thing to check for is the presence of weeds. If your compost contains weed seeds or rhizomes, you’ll introduce these intruders. Once they’re in your future lawn, they’ll likely outcompete the grass.
Adding Compost to Your Lawn
When it comes time to add compost to your lawn, you have three main options. You can incorporate compost into your soil, broadcast it on top, or mix it with grass seed.
Incorporating Compost into the Soil
If you have soil with heavy clay or low organic matter, it’s a good idea to incorporate compost into the top few inches of the soil.
To do this, spread 1/2 inch to 1 inch of compost on the surface. You can do this by hand or use a compost spreader. Next, use a rototiller or digging fork to mix the material into the top 6-8 inches of soil.
Once your soil is amended, it’s time to spread your seed. Don’t forget to cover the seed and keep the surface moist.
After the seed germinates, the compost will help provide an environment that encourages a full and healthy lawn.
Spreading Compost on Top of Seed
Another option is to spread grass seed and then broadcast compost on top. By covering the seed with compost, you’ll increase the chances seeds will stay moist until they germinate.
If you’re using this method, spread about a 1/4 inch of compost. This is enough to adequately cover the seed without inhibiting germination.
Over time, this compost will infiltrate down into the soil, leading to the previously mentioned benefits.
Mixing Compost with Grass Seed
A final option is to mix your grass seed with compost before you spread the seed. If you do this, you won’t need to use a lot of compost. The goal is to provide material for the seed to germinate in, rather than provide a large boost of organic matter.
If you’re using this method, you’ll want to aim for a ratio of about 1 part seed to 5 parts compost. This method is particularly useful if you’re only trying to grow new grass in a small patch.
After you thoroughly mix the seed and compost, evenly broadcast the mixture across the area you wish to plant.
What Month is Best to Put Grass Seed Down?
Where you live determines the type of grass that thrives in your area, and this impacts when you should plant your grass seed.
If you live in a cooler area like the Northeast, Northern Plains, or Northwest, cool-season grasses are the best choice. Some popular varieties include Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and tall fescue.
Since these are cool-season grasses, they do best when planted in cooler weather. By planting seeds in September or early October, you give the grass time to germinate and establish in cooler weather.
If you plant earlier, the young plants will suffer in the heat. If you wait too long to plant, the small grass might be killed by frost.
If you live in the South or Southwest, you’ll want to choose a warm-season grass. Some popular choices include bermudagrass, bahiagrass, and centipede grass.
These grasses perform best in warm weather. When you plant them in May, they’ll have the whole summer to get established.
Planting a new lawn from seed can seem like a tricky process. You have to choose the right seed, provide proper irrigation, and make sure the soil will support the new grass.
Adding compost when you plant grass seed will improve the chances the seed with germinate and thrive.