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 grass seed mats, work well at preventing grass from 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 Grass 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 Grass 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 Grass Seed Mat or Blanket? (Do They Dissolve?)
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.
How Long Do Seed Blankets Take to Grow? (How Long Do You Leave Them Down?)
Different types of grass seed take different lengths of time to grow. For example, bluegrass is slow-growing and takes around 3 weeks to germinate, while fescue takes about a week less. Some fast-growing grass varieties will only take a week to grow.
The general rule is to leave the seed blanket down for between four and five weeks. By this time, the grass should have reached a height of around two to three inches, which is long enough to mow. By this point, you should be able to carefully remove the seed blanket from your lawn.
Want to take a minute out of your yard work? Lean on your rake or spade, and watch this lovely little timelapse that shows how grass grows.
Can You Mow Over a Grass Seed Mat?
You should be able to mow over your grass mat, provided the grass has reached a mowable height of at least two to three inches.
If you’re not sure when you can mow your new grass, try gently pulling at some of the blades. If the grass feels like it’s pulling back, then it’s safely rooted and OK to mow.
For your new grass’s first mow, don’t cut back too much. Set the blades high, and make sure they’re sharp so they don’t tear at the grass. Leave the clippings on the lawn so that their nutrients feed back into the earth.
Can You Walk on a Grass Seed Blanket?
While footsteps can help to set the seeds, it’s generally better not to walk on a grass seed blanket. If you can (and this is easier said than done if you have kids and pets), keep everyone off the grass until it’s a healthy two inches tall.
To help keep feet and paws off the blanketed area, you can stake a sheet of netting just above the seed blanket. This allows rain or water to reach the seeds and the grass to grow up, without fear of it being trampled or dug up. Just make sure that the perimeter of the netting is visible.
Can You Water Over a Grass Seed Mat?
Yes you can, and in fact you must. New grass needs a lot of water, especially if you live in a dry climate or if it hasn’t been raining much.
At first, you’ll need to water your new grass at least once a day, twice if the weather’s really dry. In order for grass to germinate and grow successfully, the top two inches of soil need to be kept nice and moist, which is something to bear in mind when you’re watering.
When the new grass is established, you can reduce your watering schedule. However, grass still likes to have a good old soaking at least twice a week, so keep that hose pipe handy until late in the fall.
Are Grass Seed Mats Safe for Dogs?
We’ve all heard horror stories about how grass seed can hurt our pets’ paws. In this way, a grass seed mat is a safer option if you have a dog, and here’s why.
Dogs love to dig, and if they dig up the grass seed, there’s a risk that the tiny seeds will become trapped between their pads, leading to injury and potential infection. With a grass blanket, the seeds are embedded into a mat, and so are less likely to end up in your pooch’s paw.
However, you still don’t want your dog to rip up your grass seed mat! Stake a net over the area, or out up a temporary fence around the seed mat until the grass has grown.
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.
Can You Purchase Biodegradable Grass Seed Mats?
If you want a biodegradable grass 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. 🙂
Homeowner and property investor Larry James founded Take a Yard in 2020 to bring you the very best outdoor living content, based on his years of experience managing outside spaces. Read more >