As someone into lawn care who enjoys mowing the grass, I don’t like it when patches of grass dry up and become discolored – but that’s where a lawn seed blanket can help.
Lawn seed blankets, also known as grass seed germination blankets and erosion control mats, work well at preventing grass growing in clumps to give a uniform lawn. They can also help with soil erosion and are an alternative to scattering grass seeds directly onto the earth.
Let’s dive down into the subject of lawn seed blankets in more detail, and discover how and why to use them in your yard…
Do Grass Seed Germination Blankets Actually Work?
Grass seed germination blankets (also known as lawn seed blankets and erosion control mats) are an alternative to scattering grass seeds directly onto the earth.
They can work really well, as they are simple to use, prevent grass from growing in clumps, and should give you a nice, uniform lawn. They are also recommended if you experience soil erosion in your yard.
If you scatter grass seeds, it’s pretty much impossible to make sure that you don’t end up with clumps and bald patches. If a too-dense patch of seeds starts to germinate, they will start to strangle each other. A pre-seeded lawn seed blanket gives you a more uniform approach, with the seeds nicely spread out.
The blanket holds the seeds safely in place, so they won’t get washed away by rain, eaten by the birds, or dug up by the dog. It will also prevent the soil from being disturbed or washed away, hence the alternative name of “soil erosion mat/blanket”. As well as preventing the rain from disturbing the seeds, the blanket also locks in the right amount of moisture for the germinating grass.
Another (big) advantage is that it makes it tricky for weeds to grow up around the new grass. Weeds love the tilled soil and regular watering that grass seeds need, and a germination blanket helps prevent them from taking advantage of these conditions.
As you can see, there are a lot of advantages to using a lawn seed blanket. The main disadvantage is increased cost (a simple pack of seeds costs very little) and the fact that you have less choice of seed types.
Not all lawn blankets come pre-seeded. You can also buy “bare” blankets that simply cover the planted seeds and help to create the right environment for successful germination and growth. This can be a good solution if you just want to patch up a few places, or if there’s a specific type of grass you want to grow.
Of course, if you go for an unseeded lawn blanket, you’ll still need to make sure that you sow the seeds carefully and evenly by hand, into soil that’s been enriched with a suitable fertilizer.
Can a Seed Blanket Be Used On An Existing Lawn? (Or Just For New Grass?)
Yes, seed blankets can be used on existing lawns. If you have some bald or sparse patches on your lawn that you want to cover, a grass seed blanket can help make sure that your new seeds grow successfully.
You’ll need to start by giving the whole lawn a good mow. Then, you can either cut up a ready-seeded germination blanket, or sow seeds into the ground and cover them with pieces of non-seeded blanket. The latter option can be better if you have a more specialist type of grass and don’t want to mix two varieties. Hold the blanket pieces in place with biodegradable stakes.
How Do I Use a Seed Germination Blanket On My Lawn?
It’s super-easy to use a seed germination blanket on your lawn, which is one of the reasons why more gardeners have started using them.
There are two approaches, depending on whether you choose a blanket that’s already impregnated with seeds, or choose to seed then cover your lawn area.
If you choose the first (which is generally what people mean when they talk about grass seed blankets), it couldn’t be simpler. Also called “seed rolls”, they come pre-seeded and with fertilizers, and are usually biodegradable. This is a quick way to grow a complete new lawn.
- Measure your lawn area to work out how much seed blanket you will need
- Seed mats are usually sold on rolls. Unroll the mat across the soil, taking care not to miss any patches or create unsightly joins
- Stake the blanket in place with biodegradable stakes (more about where to buy everything in a moment)
- Water it well
- Different manufacturers give different lengths of time between putting down the mat and the grass sprouting up. Grotrax claims you’ll have a lush, thick lawn in as little as five weeks
If you have a sloping lawn or a banked area to grass, pre-seeded lawn blankets are a great way to make sure everything stays in place until the seeds are safely rooted and sprouting lovely shoots. Grass Daddy’s video shows you how to use a germination blanket on a sloping and tricky patch of ground.
What about if you simply need to repair a few patches of lawn? Well, you can use a pre-seeded mat again; however, this may give you a patchy look if it’s not the same variety of grass. Here’s an alternative way to seed a lawn, using a non-seeded lawn grass blanket.
- Mow and rake the existing grass
- Prepare the bald or sparse patches of lawn ready for planting seeds, with tilling and adding fertilizer
- Measure the bald or sparse patches, and cut pieces of blanket to fit them
- Using seeds that are the same grass species as your existing lawn, sow them in the bare patches
- Cover these with the ready-cut pieces of blanket
- Stake them into place with biodegradable stakes
- Water it well
You don’t have to use a lawn blanket: if you have access to hay, this can make an alternative cover while the seeds grow. However, it’s not as fool-proof as a proper blanket, and doesn’t have the same protection against erosion.
When Do I Remove The Lawn Seed Blanket?
The great news is that most lawn blankets are biodegradable and you won’t have to move them at all. Most types of both pre-seeded and unseeded come with a green finish, so they don’t make your yard look too weird while the young grass grows.
Pulling them up can be a risk, as the seedlings will come up with the blanket. So, the best solution is to be patient, and let the blanket gently biodegrade into the lawn after all the grass has grown through it.
Where Can I Buy a Lawn Seed Blanket?
Lawn seed blankets are easy to buy, and you can pick them up at places like Lowe’s or your local garden center. Amazon also has a wide choice of all sorts of lawn blankets.
Brands like Amturf and Grotrax have blankets with seeds ready-embedded. These come in easy-to-use rolls, that you simply unroll across your lawn until the desired area is covered.
If you want a biodegradable seed mat that comes without seeds, try Ecoseed’s erosion control blanket, and Takefuns has an eco-friendly mat that’s made from biodegradable paper. There are other options like good old-fashioned burlap.
Be careful when you’re buying online, as it’s not always clear whether the lawn blanket comes with seeds or not.
We’ve mentioned “biodegradable stakes” a few times. What are these, and where can you buy them? Again, try your local home stores and garden centers. Amazon has stakes from brands like Smart Spring. Just bear in mind that it takes time for these strong stakes to break down (at least two years in some cases); so if you want the stake out of your lawn, use conventional ones and take them up once the grass is established.
If certain patches of your otherwise healthy lawn have died off – or you want to plant a new lawn that grows in a uniform way – then a lawn seed blanket is definitely what you need.
Not only are they simple to use and helpful in stopping soil erosion, but as they’re biodegradable you don’t have to remove them and they’ll just rot down organically.
We’ve got several areas of lawn where the grass has been killed by ants nests, so I think this is well worth a try in my own backyard. 🙂