Before you plant, it is best to prepare your seedbed. Planting your seed in an area that is free of competition from weeds, has quality soil that can hold just enough moisture to help the plants germinate, and provide adequate sunlight will increase the success of your planting efforts. Here are four steps to take before you put your seed in the ground:
1. Pick a time when you will be able to plant within the “Best Time To Plant” timeframe for your seed.
2. Pick your location. Find a spot that gets at least 8 hours full sun
3. Remove existing vegetation one of several ways:
- Spraying an herbicide to kill off all the existing plant material (this method is best if you are struggling with an aggressively spreading species)
- Solarizing for a few weeks by placing something down that will not let light go through (blankets, tarps, cardboard)
- Or, if you are over seeding, mowing the existing vegetation down to a very low height and keeping it short while the seed is establishing.
- Hand pulling is not recommended. This method is least effective because usually the roots are not removed and the plants will return in a matter of days.
4. Next loosen the soil, but just the top layer. Tilling deeper than an inch could stir up weed seed below. You can use a roto-tiller or aerator to break up your soil.
Now you are ready to plant. Spread your seed then compact the soil to get good contact between the seed and dirt.
Remember this term: seed-to-soil contact. Good seed-to-soil contact is your key to success.
Why? The seed is packed with a limited amount of moisture and nutrients to grow. In order to successfully grow it needs to be kept moist, which the soil will do if packed tightly around the seed. The second benefit is as soon as the seedling extends roots out it has immediate access to vital nutrients that will help it grow rapidly.