Planting grass from seed is very popular with homeowners who want a lush, green lawn without the hassle and expense of installing sod. Growing a new lawn from seed comes with some of its own worries, however. Birds and other animals can eat grass seed, the seed can fail to germinate if the growing temperature is too hot or cold, and the seed can wash or erode away with spring rains. Covering your newly-laid grass seed can prevent or greatly reduce these ills.
Hay or Straw Mulch
One of the least expensive things to cover your seed beds with is a layer of hay or straw mulch. You can find this material at any local home center. To use, sow your grass seed according to the directions on the bag. Rake the seed into the soil, apply an even 1/2-inch layer over the entire seedbed, then water lightly.
While hay is inexpensive and easy to apply, it is also difficult to remove once the grass seedlings have germinated, and may contain weed seeds that sprout along with the grass.
Find plastic sheeting in rolls at your local home center. Lawn sheeting is generally made of slightly thicker plastic, about 1/16 inch. To use, plant your grass seed according to the bag's directions, then lightly rake the seed into the soil and water. Stretch your plastic sheeting over the lawn, making sure that sheets overlap 1/2 inch. Weight down with rocks, and remove when the seed has germinated.
Plastic sheeting should not be used in the summertime, when temperatures under the sheeting will get too hot to allow the grass to germinate properly.
Bed sheets are light, breathable, and require no trips to the home center. To use bed sheets as a ground cover, plant and water your grass seed as above. Then stretch the bedsheets over the lawn, overlapping them 1/2 inch, and weight down with rocks.
Bed sheets, while they can be an eyesore for your neighbors, are one of the better choices for summer grass sowing, as they will not allow excessive heat to build up underneath them, and contain no weed seeds.
Erosion matting is an expensive option for covering grass seed, but it will prevent the grass seed washing away when planting on a sloped lawn. To use erosion matting, plant grass seed according to directions, rake into the soil, then cover with erosion matting and stake down. Each type of matting will have different directions for use. Ask a lawn-care expert at your local home center if in doubt.