Questions on Hay or Straw Cover on New Grass Seed

kevin2e(7)October 2, 2007

Hi, I'm new to using hay or straw to growing grass from the start and could use some help...

I had a new patio put in my back yard and it is surrounded by about 4' to 10' of new soil. It's a fairly large area including the part where the machinery tore up the lawn. The landscaper put down some grass seed and covered it with hay or straw. He said to just leave it and it will disappear when it gets mowed. It's about two weeks old now and is actually coming in very nicely all things considered.

I have a couple of questions. I don't usually bag my grass clippings as our town does not accept them. Assuming they stay on the lawn, how long will they stick around? They don't look very nice on the lawn and with winter approaching I don't really want to see them all year, especially right next to the house like they are.

I tried to move some of the hay as it was put on a bit too "thick" in some spots and I noticed that if I pulled the ones on the bottom it pulled some young grass roots up with it. Will that happen if I try to mow it also? The grass is becoming entwined with some of the hay way down by the soil but not the pieces up on top.

I'm starting to get some fallen leaves mixing in with the hay due to the time of year that it is. I'm not sure if this will hurt or help the new grass seed. If I try to remove them by hand or by rake it may do more harm than good by walking on it and pulling the new seedlings out. On the other hand, if I use a leaf blower it will blow a lot of the hay away with it. So do I leave the leaves or try to remove them?

How long is the hay supposed to stay on anyway?

Thanks in advance for your assistance!

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I've never covered my grass seed with hay or straw, but if I did, I'd leave it where it is and let it decompose and add organic matter to the soil. As the grass continues to thicken, the hay will be less noticeable even before it decomposes.

As for the leaves, whether I'm seeding or not, I mulch mow them into the lawn to add more organic matter to the soil.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2007 at 12:45PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

He used straw. Hay has seed in it.

If your grass is only 2 weeks from seeding and you've already mowed, I think your mower is set about 2 inches too low. Your mower should be at the highest setting. Once you do that, all your problems will go away. The grass clippings will filter down into the tall grass and the straw will be below the mower blade.

If you don't want to mulch mow your leaves on the lawn, you can blow them onto a paved area and mulch mow them there. Then blow the leaf dust back to the lawn.

If you want to speed up the decomposition of the straw (or leaves), you could spray milk on the lawn. Set the milk in the sprayer at full strength and set adjuster to flow at 3 tablespoons per gallon. The milk will set up the biology to decompose the straw.

When I say all your problems will go away by mowing high, I do mean all your current problem plus any future weed problems. If you were to overseed in the spring, you would likely get weeds because you would scalp the grass down low first, thus exposing the weed seed to the sunlight and constant water. As long as you don't water for a few minutes every day or two, and you leave your grass tall, you will have a "no hassle" lawn.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2007 at 1:00PM
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Thanks for the information. At least I know the difference between straw and hay now...

In response to the above posting from dschall, I have not cut the new grass yet. Also I keep my lawn mower at the second to the highest setting. I find the highest just looks a bit long.

I can use my small trim mower to cut the new grass which has a mulching option. My larger one is a commercial walk behind mower and only has a side discharge. It's too heavy for the new grass and soil anyway...

My plan was to wait another couple of weeks before cutting the new grass.


    Bookmark   October 2, 2007 at 1:43PM
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My new grass seems to be comming up " Stringy " and falling over to one side or the other.This is causing a problem , because it gets trapped between the straw , and then becomes harder to mowe for I can't get it to stand up sraight enough to cut (Exept on the lowest setting,which I really don't want to do ) I don't write very well and hope someone can understand what it is I'm trying to say.Please offer any suggestions. Thank you very much !!

    Bookmark   April 8, 2011 at 7:12AM
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