If you have ever tried to grow grass from seed on a slope, you know it’s a fickle thing. Soil erosion, wind, and rain all seem to work against you. How can something so prevalent in nature be so difficult to recreate on your property?
If your attempts to plant grass on your slope are falling flat because of washout, crumbling property lines, or wind drying out your seeds, Lawnstarter has solutions. This article will cover how to plant grass seeds on a slope.
Why seed your slope?
Aside from being unsightly, slopes with no vegetation are prone to erosion. Planting grass and other vegetation on your slope can also help manage stormwater runoff and help the environment by soaking up the excess water into its root systems. Keeping excess water off your property also lessens the likelihood your foundation will encounter damage from the water’s freeze-thaw cycle.
Why is seeding a slope difficult?
If you have seeded a flat surface, you know it’s a straightforward process. Seeding a hill is a different beast. Rainwater and even hose water can easily wash seeds off your slope. Plus, the increased exposure to wind can dry out your seeds, rendering them useless. Lately, birds and wildlife might be eating your seed.
Luckily, Lawnstarter is here to walk you through the process of planting grass on your slope.
Choose your seed
Choosing the best grass for your slope is important. Elect for turf grasses with a complex and deep root system that is ideal for slowing erosion. Choosing grass like tall fescue, red fescue, ryegrass, or a grass native to your area is all good. Native grasses proliferate and spread easily.
Prepare the area
Before seeding, it’s a good idea to prepare the area. This preparation will help your grass seed germinate.
- Start by clearing the area of trash and debris. Seeds that cling to debris like logs, leaves, and rocks will go to waste.
- Next, till (loosen up) the top 2-3 inches of soil for seeding. Tilling not only makes seeding easier but also reduces weeds and disperses pests. Tillers are available for rent from your local home improvement warehouse.
- Then, rake away lumps in the topsoil to ensure the grass will grow evenly.
- Finally, dampen the topsoil. You can use your sprinklers, a hose, or a lawn roller filled with water to moisten your soil. Be careful not to soak your topsoil or cause runoff.
Now that you have prepared your topsoil add fertilizer. Adding fertilizer is crucial for any seeding, but even more so for sloped properties. Apply fertilizer generously to your slope. The goal is for your fertilizer to penetrate about 4 inches into the soil.
For sloped properties, try liquid fertilizers. A hose-end sprayer will allow you to fertilize your slope without risking a fall. It’s a slippery slope, after all.
Plant your seeds
Now it’s time to plant your seeds. Pay attention to the instructions on your packaging. For larger areas, consider using a broadcast spreader.
Sometimes the soil quality on slopes can be wanting, so you may want to seed from the bottom of the slope upwards to gauge how well your seeds are taking to the environment.
Homeowners with extremely steep slopes and erosion-prone properties may want to use a seed designed for erosion control.
Rake, tamp, and roll
When your seeds are in the ground, they need protection from wind and runoff. Using a rake, cover your seeds with 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch of soil. Then, use a tamping tool like a roller to pack down the earth. Tamping is your grass’s first defense against the elements. You may consider renting a gas-powered roller from your local hardware store for larger jobs.
Protect your seeded slope.
So far, this seeding experience has looked quite similar to seeding a flat surface. However, the following preventative measures will prevent wind and rain from displacing it while it germinates.
Use a biodegradable mesh erosion control mat to protect your seeded slope. Secure the mat with garden staples. Doing so will secure the mat and allow your grass to germinate through the mesh.
These mesh nettings come in various materials. From jute to coir, any biodegradable erosion control blanket will work.
You can also add a thin layer of straw beneath the netting to act as mulch. Straw provides an added layer of protection and moisture control to your germinating seeds.
Frequently asked questions
A cycle-and-soak process is a common practice for watering steep slopes. Water is applied in short cycles to prevent runoff. Drip irrigation via soaker hoses is also a useful tool.
Quality grass is maintainable on a 25% grade. If your property has severe slopes, consider adding a retaining wall to preserve your terrain.
No Mow Lawn Seed Mix with Rye is a very low-maintenance grass that only needs mowing twice a year.
Ask your local hardware or landscaping professional about prairie grasses and other terrain alternatives suitable for your climate.
When to call a professional
Growing grass on a slope can be tricky, but maintaining it can be even trickier. Connect with a local lawn care pro who can mow, trim, and edge your yard’s slope with care.
Main Image Photo Credit: Pxhere