CO-Horts Blog

Friday, March 19, 2021

New Grass seed before a storm? Why not?

Cassey Anderson, Adams County Extension 

As many of you who live along the Front Range may know we had a very warm and enjoyable first half of March. This led to the temptation to start getting gardens re-worked and the making of new plans. In my yard that meant working on our 30' x 30' vegetable garden since we're planning to build raised beds. As often happens a side project emerged. Last year we ground out about 50 stumps in our yard (yes, we have/had a LOT of trees!). As a consequence the area in between our garden and our shed became really bumpy and impossible to maintain last year, so while we had the rented super-duty hydraulic rototiller we also went over the patch in between veggie garden and shed and smoothed it out. Alas I did not get a before picture, but believe me it was gnarly! 

The newly evened-out area

Since nature abhors a vacuum I knew that I had to get something up and growing before the inevitable weeds grew in. I purchased a dryland mixture that shouldn't spread quickly through a local grass seed company and went to work. Of course we were working against a timeline as the snowstorm of last week was supposed to be moving in.

A proper stance is vital to good seed distribution 

When spreading grass seed over a new area it's important, if possible, to loosen the soil, if you can do this with something like a rototiller 6-8" deep that's the best possible option, if you're patching a smaller area a rake or a cultivator can work as well. Spread slowly and uniformly and preferably on a day without much wind if you can manage it.

The straw like bits on the ground are all future grass - hopefully

You should see grass seed on the soil surface fairly uniformly distributed. This is the point at which you get to start making sure that grass seed has the best soil-to-seed contact you can manage! This means making sure that the soil is nicely nestled into its future home for germination. Using a rake I find is a very effective way of getting a little bit of soil on top of the seed, enough to secure it into the soil, but not so deep that light and moisture cannot easily reach.  

Raking is a great upper body workout 

Once your seed is tucked in, you'll need to ensure it stays moist. This can be through natural precipitation (one of the main arguments for seeding in the spring) or through your own efforts (sprinklers). If the days become really hot you may have to water several times a day. A newly germinated seedling that dries out will die very quickly indeed! In my case I got almost 2" of moisture mere days after planting and the snow still has not melted so I'll be OK on watering for a while. Now I'm just hoping that we'll dry out soon so I can build my new raised beds, fingers crossed.  

Enjoy my gratuitous slow-motion seed spreading video. 
I spent far too much time trying to capture a good shot. 


  1. Good timing! Your captions crack me up. I need to do the same thing but am torn on using some type of mulch to help keep the seed moist. Between the deer and the wind, mulch seems pointless. I’m in Howard, CO, on 10 acres.
    How about doing a post on what our common weeds look like right now, complete with photos? Please include cheatgrass. I know it’s out there but some of my native grasses are also greening up. I have several weed babies that I can’t ID.
    Thank you.

  2. Hi Patti,
    Consider contacting the Fremont County Extension Office. The phone number is: 719-276-7390. Your best resources would be Jeramy or Kara.