What to Cover New Grass Seed With

Growing grass seems like it should be a simple lawn care task, right? Don’t just throw grass seed on the ground! It takes a little more thought and care to grow beautiful grass. Unprotected grass seed can get dried out or washed away.

Don’t waste grass seed and money! Protect your grass seed and seedlings with the right material so that it can grow healthy and strong.

Quick Answer:

When you’ve sown grass seed, it’s beneficial to cover it with a light layer of organic material to protect it and aid germination. Straw is commonly used due to its availability and effectiveness. Other options include peat moss, compost, or a specialized lawn starter mulch. These materials help retain soil moisture and deter birds from eating the seeds.

What is the best material to cover new grass seed?

The goal is to protect the seeds and young grass and keep the seeds from washing away. However, you don’t want to use a heavy material that will keep the seeds from sprouting and growing. Here are a few ideas!

Cover grass seed with grass clippings

This solution is as easy as mowing your lawn! Save the grass clippings after you mow. Allow the clippings to dry. Wet clippings could harbor mold.

Spread the clippings lightly over the grass seed. A thin layer of grass clippings will offer a layer of protection without smothering the new seedlings. The grass clippings will break down over time, adding nutrients to the soil.

Grass Clippings

Cover grass seed with peat moss

Peat moss is decomposed moss and other organic material harvested from peat bogs. It is usually used as a soil amendment, but it also works as a protective covering for new grass seed. Not only will it protect the seed, but it will add nutrients to the soil.

Peat moss comes in densely packed bunches. Loosen it up, and place it in fluffy layers over the soil and grass seed. Water the grass seed immediately.

Cover grass seed with clear plastic

Polyethylene plastic sheeting is a simple way to protect grass seed. Just place the grass seed in the soil and place the plastic sheeting over the top of it. There is no need for straw, mulch, or compost.

Use clear plastic instead of black plastic, so your grass seed doesn’t get too warm! Once you see sprouts, remove the plastic.

Cover grass seed with leaves

If you are looking for free, accessible mulch in the fall, look no further than your own backyard! Leaves can be used to cover new grass seed. Make sure to mulch or shred the leaves first! Large leaves may block the light and smother the new grass.

Cover grass seed with straw

Straw is the most commonly used cover for new grass seed. It’s easy to see why! Straw is inexpensive and easy to find. Typically, wheat, oat, or barley straw are the best options for new grass seed. Place a thin layer of straw over the grass seed.

Cover grass seed with straw

However, be careful to choose straw that is free of weeds and seeds, or you will grow more than just grass seed! Avoid pine straw, as well. Pine straw contains a chemical called terpene which inhibits the growth of nearby plants.

Cover grass seed with fabric

You may have seen yards with sheets of burlap. Burlap is a great way to protect the grass from predators, sun, and rain. It also allows moisture to penetrate the ground and will keep the moisture locked in.

This landscaping fabric may be a good option if you have young grass in the fall. Not only will the fabric protect the seedlings from birds, sun, and washout, but it also keeps out the frost. It’s ultra-light and water permeable. However, a roll of this fabric is also the most expensive option on our list.

What about a grass seed cover mat?

A grass seed cover mat has grass seed, fertilizer, and mulch rolled into one convenient product! Just roll it out, and add water. The mat will keep the seeds from washing away. This is a great option for planting grass on a slope. However, the price tag is a bit steep!

Frequently Asked Questions

Green Grass

What can I put on my grass seed instead of straw?

Though straw is the most commonly used cover for new grass seed, it is not the only option! Grass clippings, shredded leaves, a layer of compost, plastic sheeting, mulch, burlap, or peat moss can all be used to keep grass seed in place and protected.

Can you put topsoil over grass seed?

While topsoil may seem like a logical choice to cover grass seed, it is too heavy. Tender young grass shoots will have a difficult time pushing through a layer of soil. Eventually, the heavy soil will suffocate the young grass.

How much mulch should I put over grass seed?

When covering grass seed, think light and airy! Don’t put too much straw, peat moss, or whatever material you use on top of the seeds, or you run the risk of suffocating the grass. Don’t forget to add a starter fertilizer that is designed for new grass!

Final Thoughts

Pick a material that will protect the grass seeds and fragile young grass shoots but is still light enough to allow for unhindered growth. If you treat your new grass with care, it should thrive and grow!