Worried about seeds sprouting in your precious lawn? It’s probably not as bad as you think.
During late spring to early summer it’s not uncommon for grass seed heads to pop up in your turf.
Flowering and seeding are a natural part of a plant life cycle and a smart survival mechanism of your lawn in response to sudden changes in temperature, wind and rain that can be experienced during this time of year.
When these lawn seed heads start popping up in your grass it’s understandable to think that you might have weeds. But seed heads aren’t weeds––they’re simply the head of the green stem of a lawn leaf.
Are lawn seed heads a problem?
Normally, when a turf variety goes to seed, it’s because it’s under stress from something, usually a lack of water or nutrients. Most common lawn types in Australia produce a sterile seed head, meaning they can’t be spread by seed into other areas of your garden and grow from the seeds, only through vegetative sprigs or runners.
While going to seed isn’t necessarily a bad thing for your lawn, it doesn’t look great or feel as soft underfoot and can be a sign of an underlying problem, so it’s best to get on top of it as soon as possible.
How do I identify seed heads in my lawn?
Each type of turf has a different looking seed head, this is why it’s hard sometimes to tell if it’s a weed or not. Let’s have a look at a few of the main types of turf seed heads.
Seed heads found in Zoysia turf will have either a white or purplish colour. They are attached to one stem with small flowers, this is where the seeds are held. Zoysia seed heads can also be identified by their tough feel.
Seed heads found in Kikuyu turf will grow on a white stem in clusters of 2-4. Their stringy look is often mistaken as spider’s web!
It’s very easy to mistake Couch seed heads as weeds, as they range in colour from green to purple and grow above the grass level. You’ll notice a cluster of spikes on the top of the stem that holds the seeds.
Seed heads in Buffalo turf grow from the runner, or stolon. Most Buffalo seeds are sterile, so the grass can’t be spread by its seeds. The seed head is often compared to asparagus, with its thicker shape and exposed seeds.
How do I treat seed heads in my lawn?
The best way to prevent seed heads is to maintain a consistent lawn care program throughout the year. If your lawn is healthy it should stop seeding on its own within 2-3 weeks and it will be business as usual.
If there has been dramatic weather change, it will stop seeding once conditions have returned to normal or once the plant has adjusted. If weather conditions have been fairly consistent, you’ll want to look at what may have caused the lawn to go into stress in the first place. Possible stressors could be insufficient water, nutrients or even the soil composition.
To rid your lawn of seed heads and take control of your lawn health we recommend applying one or more of the following techniques:
The simplest way to get rid of any seed heads quickly is to mow them off. While this may make your lawn look better in the short term, it won’t actually ‘fix’ the problem so don’t be surprised if they quickly grow back and you have to mow again every 5-10 days until you resolve the underlying issue.
Lack of water is one of the most common reasons for lawn to go to seed. Make sure your lawn is receiving an adequate amount of water for the warmer weather by checking the soil moisture. Give your lawn a good, deep soaking and it should return to its former glory in no time.
Lack of nutrients is another key factor that can cause grass to go to seed. Give your lawn an application with a good quality slow release fertiliser and those seed heads will soon disappear.
Top dressing brings many benefits to a lawn that’s looking a little lacklustre, including helping to increase nutrient retention, improving drainage and increasing disease and pest resistance.
Top dressing should only be done during the spring growing season and we recommend you mow low with a rotary mower equipped with a catcher and then aerate your lawn prior to application. Spread the sand evenly over the desired area, then rake, level lawn or broom it into the lawn profile. Never top dress more than 1cm in a single application, making sure the grass tips are still exposed.
If your lawn has an ongoing seeding issue and you can’t seem to get on top of it, please contact our turf specialists here and be sure to include your name, contact number, lawn variety, a brief description of your lawn issue or question and an image of the area.