Sowing and Fertilising the Lawn

A couple and their dog on a neat lawn
A neat lawn invites people to relax and spend some time.

Lawn Seeds or Turf?

Laying turf
You can get an immediate pop of green in your garden with turf. However, laying it is very laborious. ©iStock/sandsun

If you want to create a beautiful lawn in your garden, you basically have two options: You can lay turf or sow the lawn with lawn seeds.

Both variants have their advantages and disadvantages. So, for example, laying turf is much more physically demanding than sowing a lawn. However, turf is laid immediately and covers the previously bare soil.

Sown lawns require up to three months before they have grown sufficiently to be used. But if you still decide to sow a lawn, we have the most important tips for you here.

Sowing a Lawn: the Correct Lawn Seeds

If you intend to sow a lawn, the soil should be loose and flat. Remove stones and weeds. Then buy some suitable lawn seeds or a lawn seed mixture.

It is essential to buy quality lawn seeds. High-quality lawn seeds to take longer to germinate and the blades sometimes grow more slowly - however these seed mixes lead to a thicker turf, so that the overall look at the end is better.

With high-quality seed mixes you also require fewer lawn seeds per square metre. This then relativises the higher price.

Do not store lawn seeds for too long. This can impair the germination rate. For the grass variety Red Fescue, the germination rate falls after just one year.

The variety relationships in lawn seed mixes are precisely matched. If one variety germinated more, this can have a negative impact on the appearance of the entire lawn. Moreover, the overall lawn quality will suffer.

Lawn seeds in a hand
A high-quality product is essential for lawn seeds. The slightly higher price pays for itself very quickly. ©MSG/Folkert Siemens; Prod.: W. Bohlsen, D. van Dieken, F. Siemens

When Should You Sow A Lawn?

You can generally sow lawns all year round. The seeds are winter-hardy. However, the soil temperature should not drop below a certain level. Otherwise, the germination capacity could suffer. At temperatures below 10 °C, some seeds only germinate very slowly. The young plants are then much more sensitive to dryness and suffer from drought damage more quickly.

The period from April to May is the most favourable time to sow seeds. It is often so warm in June that you will have to water a lot after sowing. But there’s nothing to stop you sowing in June if you have enough time. The grass seeds come up well in this time and grow quickly.

You will have to water less after sowing in late summer and the autumn. From the end of August to the end of September the relationship of temperature to the amount of rain is more favourable, so that a lot of work is done for you. It is therefore more favourable to sow a lawn at this time.

Sowing a Lawn: Step by Step

If you pay attention to a few things when sowing a lawn, a beautiful green area will develop quickly and reliably in your garden. With our step by step instructions you’ll do everything properly.

Prepare the Soil

Preparing the soil to sow the lawn
Remove old lawn or weeds with a spade. Then spread building sand over the area. ©MSG/Folkert Siemens

Prepare the soil for your lawn. For this, remove all weeds. Do this by thoroughly working the soil. Do this with a spade or motor hoe. 

For very hard and loamy soils, distribute building sand on the area before chopping up the soil. The sand layer should be 10 cm deep. Then thoroughly work in the sand.

Remove Stones and Roots

Then collect up stones and larger pieces of root. These would get in the way of young lawn seedlings when growing.

Level off

Then level the entire area. This can be done well with a wide wooden rake. Make sure the work here is precise. Unevenness in the area leads to water pooling later.

Roller the Soil

Lawn roller
You can level the area with a lawn roller. This means you won’t have lumps and dents in the grass later. ©MSG/Folkert Siemens

Now it’s time to use the lawn roller. Push it over the future lawn area once. Then visually inspect the area and get rid of lumps and dents. Then work the area with a wooden rake.

Afterwards, leave the soil to rest for a week before you start sowing the lawn seeds.


Distributing the Lawn Seeds

Weigh the lawn seeds and use precisely as much per square metre as indicated on the packaging. Then pour the lawn seeds into a seed tub or a bucket and spread them evenly across the area.

Chose a day without any wind for this, otherwise it will be unnecessarily difficult to spread the seeds evenly. You can distribute the seeds particularly evenly with a spreader. You can also use this later to fertilise the lawn area.

Work in the Seeds

Working in the seeds
Work the seeds into the ground with a wooden rake. This will help them germinate better. ©MSG/Folkert Siemens

Now it’s time to bring the wooden rake into play. Use it to move the sown lawn seeds into the soil once in a lengthwise direction and once in a breadthwise direction. This brings the seeds into better contact with the soil. This makes them less likely to dry out and they can germinate more easily.

Roll Sown Seeds

Then roller the entire lawn area once breadthwise and once lengthwise with a lawn roller. This gives the lawn seeds the perfect connection to the soil.

For a very loamy soil that quickly crusts over in dry spells, spread a thin, up to 0.5 cm thick layer of lawn soil over the seeds. A fine crumbling flower soil is also a suitable alternative. You can loosely spread this layer over the seeds. Do not roller it.

Water the Lawn Seeds

Watering plants in the garden
You must water the sown lawn in the same way you regularly water your plants in the garden. Always keep the lawn seeds slightly damp.

Then place a sprinkler on the future lawn area. It should water the entire area. If the weather is drier after sowing, turn the sprinkler on briefly about four times a day. Ten minutes is long enough.

Shortly after germination the lawn seeds are very sensitive in regard to dryness. Therefore, regular watering is very important.

Care for the Seeds after Sowing

Lawn seeds need about one to three weeks to germinate, depending on the variety of seed and outdoor temperature. Water regularly during this time, as described above. When the first hint of green appears on the area, extend the watering intervals. During dry periods, only water every one to two days, but give more water each time. Water 10 l to 20 l per square metre.

Water young lawns on sandy soils more frequently but not as heavily. On loamy soils, water every two to three days, but more heavily: 20 l per square metre is a good guide value. You can easily estimate the amount with a rain gauge.

The soil must be moist to about the depth of a spade when watering. This enables the grass roots to grow down deeper. This will make them less sensitive to longer dry periods in the future.

Mowing Young Lawns for the First Time

CityMower 18 lawnmower from Bosch
Mow your new lawn for the first time when it is 8 cm to 10 cm tall. Choose a cutting height of 5 cm to 6 cm on the lawnmower for this.

Only cut young lawns if they have reached a height of 8 cm to 10 cm. Set the lawnmower to a cutting height of 5 cm to 6 cm. The CityMower 18 from Bosch, for example, has three adjustable cutting heights from 3 cm to 6 cm. When mowing in the future, keep aiming closer to the ideal height of 4 cm.

Mow your lawn regularly and on time. This helps the grass to branch out better and better. This creates a particularly thick grass cover. If you don’t have enough time to mow the lawn regularly, you can also leave the job up to a robotic lawnmower. The Indego M+ 700 from Bosch, for example, can take on this task for you reliably and whisper quietly.

Fertilising the Lawn

After the first mowing, fertilise the lawn with a long-term fertiliser. You should also plan regular lawn fertilising in the future.

Why Do I Need To Fertilise The Lawn?

Lawns have a particularly high nutrient requirement. If you want the lawn to grow beautifully green, thick and healthy, you need to supply it with these nutrients. If you don’t fertilise, you’ll quickly pay the price. Because weeds will spread across the lawn area in next to no time.

The lawn is permanently growing and also quickly in the summer months. You can take of some of the length again and again with a lawnmower, a robotic lawnmower, or a lawn trimmer such as the UniversalGrassCut 18 from Bosch. This extremely exhausting for the growth. If the lawn is also used intensively, it is important to maintain it and fertilise it regularly. Otherwise you will see the stress sooner rather than later.

UniversalGrassCut 18 lawn trimmer from Bosch
Your lawn will start growing strongly soon. You can keep it in shape with the correct equipment.

How often Should You Fertilise the Lawn?

Fertilise your lawn about three to four times a year. If you use a robotic lawnmower, you will have to fertilise less frequently, as this hard-working helper returns the cuttings to the lawn. There, the cuttings decompose and return the nutrients in them back to the grass.

When Should You Fertilise the Lawn?

It’s best to fertilise at even intervals throughout the year. This regularly provides your lawn with important nutrients. After the first mowing in the spring apply a long-term fertiliser. Chose a dry, slightly overcast day for this. Otherwise the lawn could burn.

The duration of effectiveness of the fertiliser depends on the product. It is generally between two and six months. A period of effectiveness of three months is most common.

Fertilise a second time in June. This is when the lawn grows most vigorously. You can fertilise again in August. If necessary you can restrict this to heavily worn areas.

Then fertilise the lawn again between the end of September and the start of November with a potassium-rich autumn lawn fertiliser. This prepares it perfectly for the winter and it can tolerate the cold more readily.

You should stop using a fertiliser with a high proportion of nitrogen in the autumn. This stimulates the lawn to grow. It would then barely be protected from frost damage in the winter and more susceptible to diseases.

Which Lawn Fertiliser Is Suitable?

Only fertilise your lawn with a special lawn fertiliser. This is suited to the demands of the lawn and can perfectly supply it with the most important nutrients. These are primarily nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium (NPP).

Nitrogen is particularly important in lawn fertiliser: It stimulates grass growth. This results in a thick, healthy growth.

Organic lawn fertilisers are highly recommended. They work very naturally over a longer period and also enrich the soil with humus.

The Correct Way to Fertilise Lawns: Here’s How It’s Done

When fertilising your lawn always pay attention to the instructions for use on the packaging. You will find information about the correct dosage there.

If you use a mineral fertiliser, you should use even less than indicated on the packaging. Too much fertiliser can lead to over-fertilised patches. These turn brown and appear burned.

Too much fertiliser can also fall in one place if you haven’t quite perfected the spreading swing. The safest method is therefore fertilising with a spreader. This evenly distributes the fertiliser across the entire lawn area. But you should still proceed with a system: Roll the spreader strip by strip, either lengthwise or breadthwise. There shouldn’t be any gaps between the strips. But they should also not overlap.

If you want to fertilise by hand, spread the granulate with even swings from a half open hand.

After fertilising, you should thoroughly water the lawn area. Position a lawn sprinkler and allow it to run for 20 to 30 minutes.

Sowing the lawn by hand
The correct swing is decisive when sowing the lawn. Do a couple of practice swings before sowing. ©iStock/Imagesines
Sowing and Fertilising the Lawn
A beautiful, neat lawn decorates any garden. With our tips on sowing and fertilising lawns, you too can have a wonderful green space in your home, want a bet?