Seeding Small Meadows

For small areas, spreading the seed by hand (hand-broadcasting) is an effective and efficient method. Follow the steps below to ensure a successful meadow planting.

Step 1: Mixing the Seed

Seed Mixing

When you are ready to plant, start by thoroughly mixing the seed into a lightweight, inert material such as sawdust, peat moss, or vermiculite that has been dampened only slightly so the seed will stick to it. The seed will literally disappear into the inert material. This will serve as a carrier for your seeding and it will help you to see where you've sown the seed. For every 500 square feet (92.9 sq. meters) to be planted, you will need 8 gallons or 1.25 cubic feet (about 30L) of inert material.

Using a container large enough to hold your mixture (a Rubbermaid bin works well), pour in the seed and inert material, mixing it thoroughly.

Step 2: Broadcasting the Seed

Hand Broadcasting

When your seed is thoroughly mixed, divide the mixture into two equal sized portions. Then, starting at one end of your prepared area walk straight across, broadcasting one half the mixture evenly. It is important to use only half the material in case you run out before you cover the entire area. After having made one pass across the area, move so that you will broadcast the mixture perpendicular to your first pass (for example, broadcast the seed in a north/south direction for the first pass and then walk in an east/west direction for the second pass).

Step 3: Raking


Gently rake the area so that the seed is lightly covered with soil (about 1/8 to 1/4 inches deep).

Step 4: Rolling


Roll the site with a lawn roller to firm the seed into the soil and ensure good seed to soil contact. If your site is wet, wait until it is dry to avoid soil compaction. If you do not have access to a lawn roller, it is just as effective to walk over the area, making sure to cover the entire space.

Step 5: Mulching


Next, mulch the site with approximately one inch (2.5 cm) of clean, weed-free straw. This will help to hold in soil moisture and increase germination. This is particularly helpful on dry, sandy soils and heavy, clay soils. The straw should just cover the soil surface, not bury it. If you are seeding a steep slope, hold the straw in place using a jute or plastic mesh.
Never use field hay as it contains innumerable weed seeds!

Step 6: Watering


If you have installed your seed in the fall, you will not need to water at all. Spring seedings will require regular watering to stimulate germination. Use sprinklers on larger areas. Watering daily for the first six to eight weeks after planting encourages greater germination and seedling survival. After eight weeks, water only if it does not rain for a full week.

Water in the morning for 15-30 minutes or just enough to keep the soil moist. Try not to water in the late afternoon or in the evenings as this can encourage fungal diseases. Also be cautious of over-watering, especially on heavy clay soils that retain moisture.

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