Helpful tips on how to sow good seeds

A man mowing his lawn. Picture: PA Photo/thinkstockphotos.

A man mowing his lawn. Picture: PA Photo/thinkstockphotos.

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If your lawn looks tired and tatty and is covered in weeds, moss and bare patches, it might be time to bite the bullet and sow a new one, writes Hannah Stephenson.

The advantage of sowing a lawn from seed is obviously the cost - it is much cheaper to sow seed than to buy turves which may not be the exact quality you want and will also deteriorate rapidly if they are not laid as soon as you have bought them.

Growing a lawn from seed requires much initial preparation of the soil.

You will need to dig the ground over thoroughly, to a spade’s depth.

If you have very heavy clay soil, lighten it with grit, which you need to dig in.

Rotted manure or compost should be added to light soil to give it some substance.

One of the most important jobs when sowing a new lawn is to consolidate the soil, firming the site as you go.

Walk in overlapping steps, treading over the whole area with your heels, before sprinkling on a general fertiliser such as blood, fish and bone or a special lawn fertiliser.

Finally, rake over the area and remove any remaining stones and debris, making sure that the surface level is firm, with no soft spots that will sink later.

Once the soil is prepared, you are ready to sow. It is, in fact, best to sow in late summer or early autumn, when the ground is still moist.

Sprinkle two handfuls of seed over the area you are covering and that should be about the right amount.

Once you have scattered the seed, rake it in with a spring-tine lawn rake - don’t try to bury the seed or germination will be patchy - and then water if it doesn’t rain within 24 hours.

You will also need to protect the new lawn from birds, which are prone to using the seed bed as a dust bath. Put up some posts with flapping strips of plastic attached to frighten them off.

Seedlings should appear two to three weeks after sowing, and when the grass is two or three inches high, roll it lightly using the back roller of a cylinder mower with the cutting head held high.

This firms down the soil lifted by the seedlings and encourages them to produce new shoots.

After another few days, the lawn can be mown very lightly with the cutting blade at its highest.

Don’t cut the grass too closely in the first year and make sure it receives plenty of water when necessary - and try not to let the kids run riot in the first 12 months.