Seeding Guide

Seeding equipment can be as simple as a bucket to put the seed in and your hand to spread it or as complex as a seed drill pulled behind a tractor. The two basic methods are broadcasting and drilling. Each has positive and negative aspects and each has cautions to go with it.


This involves scattering the seeds on top of the ground. The key to this method is ensuring seed-to-soil contact. The seeds do not need to be buried, in fact, some seeds require exposure to sunlight in order to germinate; however, the seeds do need to be in contact with the soil so they can absorb water from the soil.

For small plantings, it may be easiest to broadcast the seed by hand. Mix the seed with a carrier that is free of weed seeds (i.e. sawdust, kitty litter, play box sand, dried distiller's grain). This results in a lager quantity of material to scatter and usually results in a more even seed distribution. Visually divide the seed plus carrier mix into quarters and also divide the area to seed into quarters; this allows the person seeding to get calibrated on the first quarter so he or she doesn't run out of seed before the whole area is seeded.

Larger areas are made more practical with the help of machinery. Many broadcast seeders will not work with the fluffy grasses, so if choosing to broadcast mechanically, ensure that your option will work. Broadcast seeders need to have an agitator or some stirring device in the hopper to prevent the seed from bridging up over the exit. Fertilizer buggies usually work also when the seed is mixed with a carrier (usually pelletized lime or a fertilizer containing no nitrogen). When broadcasting seed, remember that the seed does not fly as far as the carrier; usually it is ideal to drive close enough to the last set of tire tracks that it is difficult to tell which tracks belong to each other (for example, if your equipment tires are 5' apart, make the next pass 5' from the last). Interested in renting a broadcast seeder?

With any broadcast method, seed to soil contact is key. Broadcast onto a firm seedbed; if it is recently worked, fluffy soil, wait for a rain or roll the site before planting. Then, if needed, drag with a harrow or cedar tree tied up behind a truck or tractor, or if there is little plant residue on the area, roll. The idea being not to bury the seed rather to ensure good contact with the soil


Drills ensure seed to soil contact by burying the seed in rows. If sowing the fluffy grasses with a drill, make sure it has a fluffy grass box with picker wheels to ensure that it will move the seed out of the box. The caution with drills is to watch the seeding depth. Most native plants do best when the seed is buried no more than 1/8 to . To be on the safe side, it is ideal to see 50% of the seed on top of the soil.

If your project is bigger than you want to tackle with your hand and a bucket but you don't have any good options for mechanically seeding it, we do offer a broadcast seeder for rent.


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