It would be a waste of time, energy, and money to plant grass seeds on your lawn, only for them to fail to germinate.
This is why you need to boost their germination rates and capacity to grow to maturity, and one way to do that is using straw to cover grass seed.
Covering grass seed with straw helps the ground retain moisture and keep it warm until the seeds germinate. In addition, it regulates the amount of sunlight that falls on the seeds and protects the seeds from harsh weather elements like rain, birds, and other seed-eating creatures.
Leaving grass seeds uncovered makes them vulnerable to various elements; that’s why covering the seeded spot is vital.
This post provides critical information on using straw to cover grass seed, so keep reading to find out what you need to know.
Why Put Straw on Grass Seed
Straw for grass seed offers multiple benefits; that’s why while covering your grass seed with straw is not always necessary, you should consider using it. These benefits are:
1. It keeps the grass in place
Grass seeds left uncovered are vulnerable to being blown away by the wind, washed away by rain, or eaten by birds, taking away the seeds from the intended place, thus preventing proper germination.
Fortunately, you can avoid these issues by covering the seeded area with straw as it will keep the seeds in place during wind and rain and hide them from birds.
2. It helps retain moisture and keep the seeds warm
Seeds require optimum conditions for proper germination, and that includes moist soil and warm ground. Straw provides these conditions stimulating faster germination of the grass seeds.
3. Prevents excess sunlight from falling on the grass seeds
While sunlight is essential for seed germination, too much sun can destroy the seeds. Straw covers the grass seeds, shielding them from excess direct sunlight by controlling how much sunlight hits the seeds.
4. Adds nutrients and organic matter to the soil
Since straw is biodegradable, it adds nutrients and organic matter to your lawn when it decomposes. This is useful for grass seeds’ growth.
In addition, straw helps you grow a healthy, lush green yard instead of a thin, patchy one and reduces erosion.
5. Weed suppression
Straw can help suppress the growth of weeds around the seedlings. It can create a physical barrier that prevents the sunlight from reaching the weed seeds, preventing their germination.
How Much Straw Should You Use?
One bale of straw is enough to cover 1000 square feet without over-covering the grass seeds. Ensure the straw isn’t over 1.4” deep to allow sunlight to penetrate it to the seeds.
Covering your grass seeds with too much straw will inhibit germination by keeping the seeds from receiving enough sunlight.
Additionally, it will cause the seeds to boil from too much heat retention.
Some of the straws will not decompose, and you will have to get rid of them, risking damaging the grass in the process. Excess straw may also cause fungal infestation.
Make sure you can see through the straw covering; if you can’t, you have used too much.
How Long Do You Leave Straw on Grass Seed
Straw should be left on grass seed until the grass seedlings have reached a height of about 3-4 inches, which typically takes 2-4 weeks after germination. At that point, the straw can be removed or left in place and allowed to decompose naturally.
Straw Alternatives For Covering Grass Seed
If you cannot access straw for grass seed or prefer to use a different mulching material, below are some excellent alternatives.
1. Sawdust Mulch
This substance offers an excellent way to cover your grass seeds, but you must use it correctly and cautiously to enjoy its benefits and avoid causing a matting effect.
Straw matting for grass seeding discourages germination and growth of seeds.
Sawdust has finer particles than straw, so it can create a barrier that will hinder evaporation.
The slow evaporation leaves too much water in the soil, damaging the roots of the grass seedlings.
When applying sawdust mulch, make sure the fine particles do not clamp on the seeds, and the covering doesn’t exceed ¼-inch in thickness.
Covering your grass seeds with mushroom compost and regular compost is a great idea as it will keep your yard moist and supply nutrients to the soil. Use ¼-inch thick of well-aged compost on your seeds.
3. Peat Moss Mulch
The primary purpose of peat moss mulch is typically to boost the quality of poor soil, but it can also be used to cover grass seeds. This material also provides nutrients to the ground upon decomposing.
However, you must apply it correctly to aid germination, which means ensuring it’s well hand-loosened.
In its fibrous, thick state, Peat moss will starve the grass seed of moisture because it will soak up any water your supply to your lawn.
4. Pine Straw
Pine straw helps retain heat and moisture while letting sunlight get to the grass seeds. However, don’t use fresh pine straw because its terpene-laden needles inhibit the growth of seedlings.
Therefore, use mature pine straw with already evaporated terpene chemicals and brown needles. The needles of well-aged pine straws don’t have their characteristic aroma.
Should You Rake Up Straw After Grass Grows?
Raking up the straw after the grass seeds germinate and grow isn’t necessary because it will decompose. Furthermore, you risk damaging the leaves and roots of the young grass by raking the straw.
Therefore, you are better off letting nature handle it, but watch out for weeds that may grow.
What Do You Do With Straw After Grass Grows?
You can either leave the straw where it is after the grass grows, use it as mulch, compost it, or use it as animal bedding.
Should You Water Straw Over Grass Seed?
You can water straw over grass seed to ensure the seeds have sufficient moisture for germination. However, don’t overwater it since straw helps retain moisture.
The post clearly shows that straw for grass seed is pretty beneficial since it helps promote optimum germination and growth.
While there are other alternatives, straw is better mulching material because it doesn’t produce seeds that could germinate and compete with your grass seedlings for nutrients.
Hey there, I’m Derek Schew, a writer for Lawnholic.com, where we cover everything and anything related to lawns. As someone who’s spent countless hours tending to my own lawn, I’m passionate about sharing my knowledge and helping others achieve the perfect yard. From lawn care tips to product reviews, I’m committed to providing our readers with the most accurate and up-to-date information available. So whether you’re a seasoned lawn enthusiast or just getting started, I invite you to join our community and discover the joys of a lush, green lawn.