Why You Should NOT Put Grass Seed on Top of Straw

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When you’re planting new grass seed on your lawn, it’s a good idea to put straw on top of the seed. The straw will hold in the moisture and allow the seeds to remain in the ground and not fly or wash away when it gets too windy or it rains too hard.

When you’re planting new grass seed, there are numerous rules to follow if you want the best results, but what happens if you decide to do the opposite and place the grass seed on top of your straw? Will it do any good, or are you just wasting your time? Let’s take a further look to answer this question.

Putting grass seed on top of straw is likely to prevent the seed from making contact with the soil below. If the layer of straw is thick, much of the seed will not make it through the straw and the germination process will be inhibited.

Why is Straw Placed on Top of Grass Seed?

When you first lay down your grass seed, it has to stay in place until it germinates and takes root. It also has to maintain a certain temperature to germinate, and both of those requirements will be met if you place a thin layer of straw over the grass seed.

Yet another benefit of placing straw on top of grass seed is to protect the seed from too much sun. Yes, sunlight is essential for the seeds to grow, but the seeds can actually die if there is an excessive amount of sunlight on top of the seeds.

The thing is, putting grass seed on top of the straw does your grass seed no good whatsoever. It doesn’t harm either the grass seed or the straw, but it doesn’t do either of them any good, either. The fact is, the straw is there to protect the grass seed—not the other way around. When you sprinkle grass seed on top of your straw, it can still blow away in windy weather or get eaten by the birds. It also makes it more difficult for the seed to germinate and take root because it usually cannot do this if it’s on top of the straw instead of underneath it.

Why Do People Wish to Do This?

Most people do not plan to put their grass seeds on top of their straw. Many people suddenly realize they do not have enough grass seed planted, or they simply decide they want to plant more, and if the straw is already there they assume they can put seed on top of the straw and get the same results. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. When you decide to put down a layer of straw, you’re doing it for a reason—to help the seeds germinate and take root. That simply isn’t likely to happen if the seeds are on top of the straw instead of underneath it.

Of course, at this point you’ve probably already planted at least one layer of grass seed underneath the straw, so you should at least have luck growing those seeds. But as far as the seed you throw on top of your straw, most of it is unlikely to take root and grow. You might get lucky and notice a tad more grass growing on top of the straw, but as a general rule, you shouldn’t expect a thick, lush layer of grass there. Instead, most of those seeds are very likely to not take root, so most of the grass you’ll be enjoying will be the grass that was planted underneath the straw.

How to Do It the Right Way

Again, your grass seed should be planted below your layer of straw, and you should plan to use one bale of hay/straw for every 1,000 square feet of land and no more than that. You don’t want the straw too thick, so always use 1–1.5 inches of straw at the most. If you place more straw than that over your seeds, the layer will be too thick and it can overheat the seeds, which can kill them. In addition, never think you have to remove the grass first. All you have to do is plant your grass seed then place a layer of straw on top of it.

If you’re curious about how long you should leave the straw there, it should remain there for 3–5 weeks. Wait until the new grass gets to roughly 3 inches high, then carefully remove the straw so that the grass doesn’t get too warm. Just like anything else, growing new grass involves using just the right amounts of things such as water, straw, and even the seeds themselves. If you use too much or too little of any “ingredient,” it can affect the way the seeds grow, which means your lawn might not look as good as you were hoping it would.

If you’re wondering if adding straw to your new grass seed is required, the answer is “no.” You can certainly grow a nice thick lawn without using straw, but straw has its advantages. The layer of straw keeps the new seeds warm and moist and harder to blow away or get eaten by birds. This means more of your seeds will remain in the ground to germinate and take root, resulting in a nicer-looking yard in the end. This is why the straw is almost always recommended and why most homeowners decide this is what they want to do.

Final Thoughts

Growing grass seed to get a new lawn is not uncommon, and many homeowners place a layer of straw over the new seed to help it grow and take root a little sooner. That being said, keep in mind that placing grass seed over straw does very little good, and, in fact, if this is the only grass seed you’re spreading, you will likely be disappointed with the results. Very little grass seed will take root and grow if it’s above the straw, resulting in a naked-looking, very sparse lawn.

For the best results, pay attention to the recommendations given out by most gardening experts, which means planting your grass seed the right way, with a layer of straw on top of it, and continuing to care for it and water it properly until the seeds take root and start to grow.

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