All over North America, people are deciding to replace their traditional grass lawns with other low-growing, less demanding plants. Traditional lawn grasses form thatch, a thick, tough, almost impermeable layer of root mass. These grasses are selected for their shallow roots and for their rugged ability to stand up to foot traffic and other stresses. Manicured grass lawns require regular cutting, feeding, aerating, de-thatching, and watering. With watering restrictions in place, summer droughts can turn lawns brown and unsightly.
When it comes to planting carrot seeds in a home garden, we can be quite precise about spacing, timing, and fertilizing. Because lawn solutions are planted on a much larger scale, we can only recommend “best practices” to ensure the highest chance of success. Homeowners can still plant these products without employing professional landscapers, but it should be done carefully in order to minimize waste and keep costs down.
1. Remove existing lawn. Over-seeding existing lawn rarely results in high germination. These seeds are like any other: They must be in contact with moist soil in order to germinate. If they are broadcast over an existing lawn, germination will be reduced, possibly to zero.
Some folks have tried de-thatching and aerating lawn prior to over-seeding. While this may increase the chances of germination, it is not best practice.
2. Lay down topsoil. Add an inch or more fresh topsoil to the planting area to give the new seedlings a helping hand. Soil that had previously been home to lawn grasses may be nutrient deficient or compacted. Topsoil will help retain moisture during the critical few weeks after planting.
3. Spread the seeds. Sow densely at 50g of seed per 100 square feet. The seeds can be sprinkled by hand or spread with a lawn seeding machine. Typically, lawns are seeded north-south/north-south, and then once more east-west/east-west. This helps spread the seeds evenly. We recommend keeping back up to 20% of the seeds in order to fill in any spots that get missed on the first planting — or, to order 20% more seeds than the recommended rate.
4. If a roller is available, use it. This will help press the seeds into the prepared soil. It’s not absolutely necessary, but may increase overall germination.
5. Irrigate. Until the clover is established, it will need regular watering, particularly in hot, dry, or windy weather. Ten minutes of sprinkler time twice a day is sufficient in most cases, BUT – water according the needs of your particular yard or landscape. Many variables can impact how much water is needed to establish micro-clover. Gradient, soil compaction, sun exposure, shade, and temperature all play a role.
6. Allow the products to establish. Prevent foot and pet traffic for at least four weeks after sowing so the plants have a chance of establishing healthy root systems and putting on early growth. Micro Clover, Tall Fescue, and Bee Turf are tough plants that can handle foot traffic, but they must be allowed a grace period to establish.
7. Mow. It may be surprising how vigorously some of these plants grow at first. They will not show any miniaturization to begin with. The tight dwarf growth will come as a result of repeated mowing. The plants respond to mowing by hugging the ground more, with smaller leaves and shorter flower stems. Over time, they will take on a very compact, snug appearance. Likewise, the clovers will grow in and fill empty spots as their roots grow laterally through the soil. If the product looks a bit beat up after mowing, just wait a couple of days. It will rebound.
Our seeds are germination tested by an independent seed lab to meet or exceed the Canada Number One germination rate. These products are hardy to Zone 3 – but this is not a guarantee that they will survive unexpected weather extremes. As with any other garden plant, a very severe winter (or summer) may result in damage or loss.
Sow Micro Clover seeds between the period two weeks prior to your last frost date, and 4 weeks prior to your first average frost date. For the BC Lower Mainland, that is approximately March 15 to October 5. Sowing in hot, dry weather will reduce the chances for success.