How Do You Plant Grass Seed in Hard Dirt?


Trying to grow grass seed can sometimes seem like an exercise in futility, especially when you’re trying to grow it in soil that is exceptionally hard. There are a lot of different reasons that soil can become hard. Sometimes it has everything to do with the fact that the soil itself hasn’t been taken care of for years and other times it has to do with factors such as foot traffic and even the weather. For example, soil that hasn’t received any appreciable moisture in some time is likely to be much harder than soil that receives moisture on a regular basis. Fortunately, it is possible to successfully plant grass seed in hard soil, but there are certain steps that you need to follow in order to make it work.

Analyze Your Soil

The first thing you need to do is analyze the soil in order to determine what type of soil you have. Why is this important? If you have a lot of clay in your soil, it will naturally be harder than soil that has less clay. By the same token, having your soil analyzed gives you an opportunity to see exactly what is happening with it. In other words, what types of nutrients are present and which ones are absent? This will go a long way toward helping you determine which types of grass seed will work best for you when you get to a point where you’re actually ready to start planting. How do you analyze your soil? Choose about 10 different places around your yard and dig up a small amount of soil. It doesn’t have to be a lot, just a small amount will do. Mix the soil from all 10 locations and then find a place near you that is capable of analyzing the soil. Take your sample to that location in order to have it analyzed. From there, you’ll have a better idea of how you should proceed.

Aerate or Till the Soil

Before you can plant anything, you have to do a little bit of maintenance on the lawn in order to get rid of the hard soil. That involves using an aerator or in some cases, a tiller in order to turn the soil over and provide an opportunity for both air and moisture to get into the soil. If you skip this step, you could be putting yourself in a real bind because it’s almost impossible to successfully plant grass seed in hard soil that hasn’t been aerated or tilled. In most cases, you’re simply wasting your time and money on grass seed that isn’t going to take hold because it’s not possible for it to get deep enough into the soil for it to do anything. As such, this is a crucial step and one that you simply can’t skip.

Introduce Some Moisture to the Soil

After you have aerated or tilled the soil, it’s a good idea to introduce some moisture by watering it. You don’t need to have water standing, but it’s a good idea to get the entire area slightly moist so that you can go ahead and plant your grass seed. Of course, you will also be watering after you plant the grass seed, so it’s more important than ever to mind the amount of water that you allow into the soil. It should be moist to the touch, but you shouldn’t be able to see any water standing, as previously mentioned. By the same token, you don’t want to sink into the ground when you walk on it. Water should not be squishing beneath your shoes.

Choose the Right Grass Seed

Remember when you analyzed your soil in order to find out what types of components were present? Depending on what was found at the time, recommendations should have been made regarding the type of grass seed that you would ultimately plant. This matters because if you choose the wrong grass seed, you may end up having to plant additional seed of a different type in order to get the results you’re looking for. It’s much more economical and far easier on you to do it right the first time. Therefore, you should not only be using a grass seed that is specially designed for growing in hard soil, but one that is tailored to fit the results of the soil analysis that you had done earlier. In addition, it’s always a good idea to combine fertilizer with the seed that you’re planting. This will help the grass seed take hold and it will help it grow faster. The thing that you have to be careful about is that in some cases, using too much fertilizer can cause more harm than good. If you get carried away, it’s possible for you to ‘burn’ the soil and prevent anything from growing for weeks or even months. Fertilizer needs to be used, but you should follow the directions on the fertilizer that you’re using to the letter. Don’t get creative and use more than you should. More does not always equal better.

Water With Caution

As previously discussed, you need to water the soil after you’ve planted the grass seed. The key is to water it enough but not too much. Initially, allow the water to flow slowly in the area, being careful not to inadvertently wash the grass seed away. Again, the soil should be moist but you shouldn’t be able to see water standing anywhere. As the grass starts to grow, you will need to water a bit less, but your watering intervals should be longer. Instead of watering everyday or every other day, depending on the heat and humidity in your area, you might end up watering every three or four days. However, instead of watering for 30 minutes to an hour, you may be watering for up to two hours. It varies slightly for each individual lawn, so it’s important to check the condition of the soil after watering and make adjustments accordingly. As long as the soil is moist but you’re not drowning the property, you should be okay. As you can see, there is quite a lot involved in planting grass seed in hard soil. The truth is, everything you do matters. Even the way that you mow your lawn can have an impact on whether or not the grass grows properly. Speaking of which, it’s imperative that you allow any new grass that you have planted to reach at least three inches in height before mowing. By the same token, be careful not to scour the ground with the lawn mower, as this will likely kill the grass that you have just planted. As long as you follow these instructions, you can get grass to grow in even the most challenging of areas. It just takes a little time and effort in order to do so.

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