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How To Get Grass Seed To Grow Thick! The One Simple Trick To Success

What is the secret to getting grass seed to grow and take hold in my yard?

That question comes into our website quite often throughout the course of a year. And luckily, it’s one we certainly have quite a bit of experience with.

It seems for one reason or another, we always have a new project going on somewhere. And whether it is clearing off space for a shed, or running utility lines to a new area, it almost always involves digging up a portion of grass to accomplish the task.

how to get grass seed to grow
For one reason or another, we seem to always be digging up our lawn for a new project. And when that happens, that means that planting grass seed is going to be in our future once again.

That of course leads to once again having to plant grass seed when the project is complete. It is a process that has happened too many time to count. And even more now that we are building the new farm!

But one thing is for sure, whether it is filling spots or seeding a large area, getting grass seed to take hold can often be quite the challenge. Especially if Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate with enough rain – or even too much.

So that leads to the question – is there a secret to getting grass seed to take? You bet there is! And it is one we stumbled upon a few years back that has truly made growing grass seed a breeze.

How To Get Grass Seed To Grow – The Basics

Before we get to the helpful little trick, it goes without saying that to get grass seed to take, there are a few “must-haves” right from the start. Unfortunately, with or without a secret trick or tip, if you don’t have the “must-haves” – the grass isn’t going to grow well under any circumstances.

The “Must-Haves” Of Getting Grass To Grow

First and foremost, starting with a high quality seed mix is a must. As is selecting a seed mix that is suitable to grow in your area.

how to get grass to grow
It is hard to believe this entire section of lawn was torn up a little over 18 months back. But by using a good quality grass seed, and mixing in a little annual rye to help the seed get started, the lawn filled in thick and lush.

Let’s face it, if you live in the middle of Florida, you can’t sow a cool season grass that is best suited for growing in a northern state. Nor will a warm season grass grow well in a cooler climate. Not at least if you would like your grass seed to germinate and grow!

But in addition to selecting a good seed that is well-suited for your location, it is also vital to select a blend of grass seed versus a single type of seed. Case in point, Kentucky Blue Grass seed.

Why Grass Seed Blends Are The Best Choice – How To Get Grass Seed To Grow

Many lawn aficionados consider Kentucky Blue grass to be the best when it comes to creating a beautiful lawn. But entirely on its own, Kentucky Blue is hard to grow and maintain. And without constant attention, it can fail quickly.

Kentucky Blue Grass has shallow roots. When a field is planted entirely in Kentucky Blue, it has a hard time handling heat of any prolonged nature. With shallow roots everywhere, there is nothing to help protect it. In addition, it is also more susceptible to disease. Especially when it is the only variety of grass growing in your lawn.

The Companion Concept

Much like with vegetables in a garden, if you only grow one variety of one crop, it is an invitation for trouble. Why? Because pests and disease have no resistance once they take hold. And the grass type has no other plants to help them out in a companion-type relationship.

seeding a lawn
We use a blend of fescue grasses for all of our seeding projects. Blends are able to withstand pests and disease much better than single seed varieties.

Grass seed and lawns run on that exact same principal. When planted with a mix of fescue seed, Kentucky Blue grass can not only survive, but thrive.

The longer blades and roots of the fescue help provide shade and strength to the Kentucky Blue seed. And likewise, the fescue benefits from having the Kentucky Blue as well.

For years, we have used Pennington’s Tall Fescue Seed Blend for all of our seeding. And it has really made all the difference by using a higher quality seed. There are also plenty of other great seed mixes on the market, but the key is to definitely use a blend versus a single grass seed – and to make sure it is good for your area as well.

So now that we know the must-haves to getting grass seed to grow – here is a look at that little secret to making sure the seed you plant grows in thick and lush every time!

The Little Secret To Great Grass To Grow With Ease – Annual Rye!

I wish I could say that we found out this little grass growing trick by intense research and experimenting. But honestly, it was a complete accident that worked like a charm!

Whether seeding small dead spots, or your entire lawn – adding in annual (cereal) rye can help the area grow in thick and quick. It provides a great base while the regular seed takes off. And then, it simply dies back and allows the grass to thicken up.

In the early Autumn a few years back, we were re-seeding a patch of lawn that had been excavated from a concrete project. We raked out the dirt as usual, and I went to the garden shed to get the seed.

Sitting beside our fescue seed mix was a partial bag of annual (cereal) rye seed. It had been left over from planting our cover crop in the garden, and since it was already going on two years old, on a whim, I decided to throw what was left in with the grass seed.

I figured if nothing else, it might germinate and cover the soil faster while the actual grass seed came up. It was a better option than simply throwing the seed out. Or, as can often happen, mice finding it over the winter.

The Annual Rye Mistake – How To Get Grass Seed To Grow

But as it turns out, planting that annual rye along with our regular grass seed was the best thing we ever did. The rye germinates quick, especially in the warm soil of early fall. And by sprouting quickly, it helped provide instant cover for the fescue seed mix.

As the rye took hold, the fescue came up in between thick and lush. No weeds developed because the rye helped cover and bare soil quickly. And the rye’s roots helped to break up the soil below making it easier for the fescue to take hold. It also helped retain moisture and provide cooling shade as the seed grew.

how to plant a cover crop - annual rye
We love to use annual (cereal) rye as our cover crop. It germinates quick, and provides great nutrients back to the soil – all while fixing nitrogen levels for the next set of crops. And those qualities also make it perfect for sowing with grass seed.

Even better, annual rye is one of the few crops that actually can help to fix nitrogen levels in the soil. And that means more nutrients are available for the grass seed to take in as it grows. A true win-win!

The Grass Seed Takes Over – How To Get Grass Seed To Grow

As annual rye will do, it began to die off after we mowed it a few times. As it did, the fescue continued to take hold and thicken in. It is a process we now use no matter if seeding a small patch or an entire section of our lawn. And it works without fail.

Over the years, we have found a ratio of (3) parts grass seed to (1) part annual rye to provide a great blend. One thing is for sure – it has all but eliminated us from ever having to re-seed the same area again.

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So the next time you have to fill a little patch of your lawn – try the annual rye trick! Happy Gardening – Jim and Mary

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