Overseeding worn and bare areas on sports pitches is an essential maintenance regime to ensure the upkeep of a healthy grass sward. Successful seed germination will be determined by a number of factors, weather and ground conditions at the time of sowing, methods used to sow the seed and, finally, the choice and quality of seed used.
It is important to use viable seed that is certified and from recent fresh stocks. Use cultivars that suit your requirements e.g. cricket, football, rugby.
Sow during optimum conditions when soil and air temperatures are consistently above 8 degrees centigrade. Grass seed will usually germinate between 7-10 days.
However, seed establishment can be achieved much more quickly with the aid of germination sheets or when using pre-germinated grass seed.
This latter method is known as chitting. Soak the required amount of seed needed in a bucket of water for three to four days. The seed can be loose, but it is better to put in either a small jute sack or in in a pair of ladies tights.
Tie a knot in the top of the tights, first ensuring your wife or partner is not wearing them!
Place the bucket in a dark, warm room (such as an airing cupboard) and leave until the seed begins to germinate, showing small white tips. Then mix with some soil/sand or rootzone and brush into the area you have prepared for seeding.
Another method is to pre-mix seed with a dampened carrier of either sand or soil rootzone mix in a container until the seed germinates. Then use to repair worn and damaged areas.
Once you have repaired the bare areas you will need to ensure the seed is not allowed to dry out and die. Keep the newly sown areas moist by covering with sheets or watering until the seed has established.
A number of companies have also developed a range of hydro-seeding techniques that enable pre-germinated seed to be mixed with water, manure and a carrier that can be applied by sprayer. This system is becoming popular at racecourses where large areas of divot damage can be reseeded very quickly whilst, at the same time, increasing the speed of seed establishment.