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Rolling/treading in autumn sown seeds on soil

pjwizonpjwizon Posts: 46
edited October 2019 in Tools and techniques
I'm following the advice given on the Emorsgate website (a specialist in supplying wild flower seeds) and am about to sow a wildflower and grass mix for sandy soil (the website states the seeds can be sown at this time of year).

The soil has poor grass that's been scarified to within an inch of it's life. There's not much grass left, though I'm sure some will recover. 

Do I need to roll/tread the seed so it makes contact with soil? Emorsgste suggest it's not necessary at this time of year as wet weather will wash the seed into the ground. It seems to me that treading over damp ground (the soil is very free draining) is likely to pick up a fair few seeds on the soul of my shoes and reduce the efficacy of sowing. 

Has anyone any advice in this? Should I tread over the seeds or leave them?


  • AnniDAnniD South West UKPosts: 10,831
    @glasgowdan may be able to help  :)
  • LoxleyLoxley NottinghamPosts: 4,897
    I would just rake very lightly to make sure the seeds are partially mixed in to the surface. Usually you gently consolidate the soil and do a final levelling rake *before* sowing, that might not be necessary if you're sowing onto an existing lawn.
  • You might be surprised at how strongly the grass grows back and becomes dominant, over the new flower/grass mix. If you're able to run a scarifier over the soil again to furrow up the surface before sowing it'll work better, then rather than treading in, I'd use the back of a wide soil rake or plastic Chelwood type rake to spread and roughen the soil on the surface. Treading on it is fine if you have time. 

    Regardless of what the seed supplier says, it'll be very slow to germinate and grow now and won't thicken up this side of March/April. 
  • Our wild flower/grass seed was sown last October, and didn't show above ground for at least a month or two.  In the meantime we were concerned that the seed hadn't "taken", and to top it all the birds were having a great feast of the seed - mainly pigeons and crows. However all our fretting was wasted as the seed did "take" and we had the most wonderful display of native wild flowers and grasses this summer.  However we are now wondering if the display will be repeated next summer without any extra assistance from us. We did have the crop hand scythed in September. I must add that we did have the field  scarified and rolled before seed was sown.  Good luck @pjwizon
  • pjwizonpjwizon Posts: 46
    edited October 2019
    Thanks for the replies. The ground was scarified with a petrol scarifier on which the blades were set as low as possible. It's stripped off the grass more or less completely and disturbed the soil surface as intended,  though I'm sure much of it will grow back. It was already weak and patchy grass in very poor sandy soil. I've added yellow rattle to the mix (Emorsgate's seeds for sandy soils) to control the original grasses. I did tread over the ground in the end. 

    Guernsey Donkey - that looks magnificent. If I end up with something like your meadow I'll be delighted. 

    I managed to sow quite a bit more than the recommended amount for the area to be covered (inexperience - I misjudged how much mix to hold in my hand whilst broadcasting) so the birds are welcome to feast to their hearts' content. I hope that won't have too detrimental an effect on the result. 
  • Guernsey Donkey2Guernsey Donkey2 Posts: 6,713
    edited October 2019
    Thank you @pjwizon I must add that we didn't prepare or sow this field ourselves.  Although we have also got a smaller wild flower area that we take care of in our garden. You can see how dry our field was during September 2018.  We had no rain for weeks and the wild flower seeds lay dormant for so long we were concerned they would never produce the lovely array you saw in the picture. The tractor scarified the top layer of soil before the seed was sown.
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