How To Prepare Your Soil For Seeding
Our guide on how to prepare your soil for seeding to give you the best possible results
The secret to your success when growing anything lies largely in the quality of your soil. Before even thinking about planting, it is important to get the ground prepared to optimum health for the best results. This is done in 3 simple steps;
Clear the area
Improve the soil
Create a level seed bed.
Step 1. Clear the area
Your first step should be to treat the weeds. You will never be able to get rid of all of the weeds permanently but once you have thick, even grass then regular mowing should manage the problem. The ones you really don't want are the perennials such as nettles, docks, dandelions and daisies. Clear as many large weeds as you can from the area, and use systemic herbicide to kill the leaves and roots. The keyword here is systemic. These are weed killers like glyphosate (trade name Roundup) that circulate through the plant’s whole system and ensure that nothing is left alive. Beware the cheap alternatives that just turn the leaves brown but don’t affect the roots. To make life easier when you come to clear the area later, mow it nice and close before applying the weed killer but be sure to leave enough vegetation to absorb the herbicide.
When applying sprays, always wear the right protective gear and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your safety. Be sure not to spray on windy days, a little bit of spray drift can decimate your prize plants.
Glyphosate will take 3-4 weeks to work properly, so be patient.
If you’re not a fan of chemical treatments, you can use a turf cutter to take away most of the vegetation and then dig (not rotovate!) the area to remove rogue roots. Rotovating is great once the soil is weed-free. However, if you’re not careful you can chop up and spread the roots of weeds and end up with a great big mess.
Next job is to clear the debris. If you've used a weed killer you will have a brown fuzz over the surface of your lawn which needs to removed. If the soil is very compacted you will need to dig over the area and you can incorporate the dead material, which will open up the soil structure and help to support those all-important soil microbes. How do you know if your soil is compacted? Try pushing a 15cm screwdriver into the soil as far as it will go. If it doesn’t slide in like a knife into a jar of honey, the soil is compacted.
Step 2. Improve the soil
The very best way to start is to test your soil so that you can add any missing components if needed. Soil testing kits are very easy to use; they are sold online and at most garden centres. Soil samples can also be sent off to specialised soil testing laboratories for a more in-depth analysis. A basic soil test gives readings for soil pH, potassium (K), phosphorus (P), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), and sulphur (S). A soil test will also let you know the level of organic matter, lead content, etc, and you can then take steps to adjust these levels. Most often, a regular dose of all-purpose organic soil improver is all that is needed. Alternatively we sell a premium topsoil which includes soil improver, so you could add a layer over your existing lawn and use it for levelling uneven areas.
Step 3. Create a level seed bed
Humps and hollows in the lawn make mowing tricky. By taking time to level the seedbed, you’ll make your life easier in the long run.
If you've already added a layer of our premium topsoil to increase nutrients then it is likely that you have filled in divots and uneven areas. If not then you will need to dig or rotavate the whole area and add soil where needed.
Double-check the compaction and ensure that the surface is nice and loose. This is also a good time to apply a pre-seeding fertiliser.
By leaving the soil for a week, any settlement will occur before the lawn is in place, allowing it to be rectified before sowing. If weeds have been prevalent in the area, wait for the first flush of weeds to germinate (approx 2 weeks) and remove these before sowing. Lightly work the surface with a rake to create a fine tilth.
That's it! You are now ready to start sowing your seeds . . .