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What is the best way to spread grass seed?

If there’s one thing that can improve the look of anyone’s garden, it’s a healthy, green, lawn, and attaining one isn’t that hard if you know what you are doing.

Keeping your lawn looking its best is all a matter of maintenance, and I’m not just talking about giving it a going over with the lawn mower or trimming the edges with your strimmer. You see, to really have a lawn that looks like you should be rolling bowls on it, you should be using lawn feed, or even adding more grass seed when you start to see patches where the grass has started to wear thin.

Spreading grass seed is a much simpler, and cheaper alternative to getting your lawn returfed, and can be done in your own time, unlike turf which really needs to be laid within a day of it being delivered to your home.
So, what is the best way to spread grass seed? Read on, and we’ll explain.

Preparation is very important when spreading grass seed

You can’t just go throwing grass seed around your lawn and expect some magic, Jack & the Beanstalk type growth to happen. No, to get the best results the soil should be prepared properly beforehand.

One of the main reasons that people’s lawns don’t look as great as they should is that their garden soil isn’t great, so I would suggest getting some bags of nice fertile soil, that is full of nutrients, and add it to yours, being careful not to create any large mounds. and ensuring it is as flat as possible. if you have problems with a very bumpy lawn, check out our article on how to level it from scratch. It might take a bit of hard graft, but the results are more than worth it.

Make sure you scarify the intended seeding area and take out any large stones, as these can stunt the growth of your new grass seed, as can weeds, so get rid of them too. If you have dense, clay soil, you really need to use an aerator to perforate it to make you’re your seeds can get all the oxygen, water, and nutrients they need to grow. It can also be a good idea to use a soil sieve. if you don’t know what they look like, take a look here-

You can even have a go at making your own soil sieve. It’s really not that hard, and we have the instructions to guide you through the process in our article on how to make a soil sieve.

Finally, rake the area flat one last time, and you’re ready to spread your grass seed. It is important that the ground is raked as flat as you can get it before spreading any seed. Here’s a good example in this tweet, even though this has been done for the purpose of laying artificial turf.

What is the best way to spread grass seed? Using a lawn feed spreader

In my opinion, the most efficient and accurate way to spread grass seed is to use one of the best lawn feed spreaders.
These simple, but effective, tools come in a variety of sizes and variations but they all basically do the same thing- spread seeds or granules out in a more accurate way than just using your hand, and also getting the job done in a much faster time. I’m not saying that you can’t spread grass seed by hand, but if it is anything other than a small area, you might find yourself feeling like this-

The main lawn feed spreaders that are available will be either rotary or drop spreaders, and this is true whether the tool is a small hand-held version, or a larger push/pull along spreader.
Rotary spreaders have a table that spins around, and this spreads the seed or feed out in a larger area, making them a good choice if you’ve got a large area to cover. Drop spreaders do just that- drop the seed straight down so you have to keep moving while using them so you don’t end up with too much seed in one place. Most of the best drop spreaders have controls and features that reduce this risk though.

To use a lawn spreader, you prepare the soil as outlined above, then simply fill the tool’s hopper with seed, adjust the settings for the output speed and then walk along the seedbed and let the tool do its job. These tools can be used for dispersing granulated lawn feed as well as other types of seed, so they’re handy tools to have around. For handheld models, you will probably have to turn a crank handle or something similar to activate the spreading mechanism, but larger models do it automatically as you move the tool along.

If you’re interested in finding out which of these products are best for you, check out our best lawn feed spreaders page that is full of product reviews and also an informative buyers’ guide to go along with them.
For now, here’s a video of someone using a rotary spreader to distribute grass seed, and the video also includes some extra tips on growing and caring for lawns.

Spreading grass seed by hand

Although spreading grass seed by hand can be done, and has been since the birth of agriculture, it can be hard to get a very even spread of seed unless you follow the following advice.
If you look at the packaging of your lawn feed or grass seed, it will have a recommended amount to be sowed in a square metre space. Now, you can always take a guess at it, but this usually results in a less than wonderful lawn, to say the least.
What I always suggest to people who want to spread grass seed this way, is to take their tape measure and a good handful of sticks, poles, or something else that can be used as markers, and go out to your pre-prepped lawn.
next, you use the tape measure and markers to separate your lawn into sections that are a square metre in size. You can also use string to make it even clearer, just try not to trip over it.
With the garden measured and marked like this, you now just need to take some small containers and measure out the recommended weight of seed to be placed in each one. Then sow half the seed in one direction, and the other half in the direct opposite direction. Repeat this for all the one-metre sections, give the whole area a light raking, and some water, and you’re done.
Now, we raise that not everyone has the time to go through all these steps, so if you’re looking for a quicker, but also less accurate method, this video shows you how-

Obviously, this will take you a lot more time than using a lawn spreader tool, but some folks do prefer these traditional ways, and if you’ve got the time on your hands, why not?

When is the best time to spread grass seed in the UK?

Although it is said that you can plant grass seed for most of the year, in my opinion, the best time for spreading grass seed in the UK is in September. At this time, the weather is usually just right to promote the growth of healthy grass.
If you decide to do it earlier than this, you might be caught out by a sudden hot or dry spell and this is not good for new seed unless you can be on hand to water the area very regularly.
On the other hand, if you plant later than this, the dropping temperatures are likely to stunt germination, and with the type of rain we get here in the UK, you could end up with soil like this-

After sowing the seed in September, adding some lawn feed the next spring will really give you excellent results and having you standing smiling, while overlooking a lush lawn, in the near future.
No matter how you choose to spread your grass seed, whether by hand or with a spreader, it’s important that you avoid walking on the seeded area for about 6 months, and to keep it watered regularly. Failure to do both of these things will greatly, and negatively, impact the results of your labour.