How to Propagate Grass

Grasses generally propagate readily from seed, however some types of seed may be difficult to obtain. Grasses that produce seed readily in their country of origin might simply not produce seed in another country or climate. Seed propagation is the least costly method of propagation, but also the least certain.  And as discussed earlier - seedlings are not always identical to the parent plant they came from, and that can be a disadvantage if you want the plant for a particular ornamental affect.

Lawn grass of course propagates readily from seed and this is the cheapest method. It takes a season to establish and may be prone to weed introduction requiring vigilance and maintenance to prevent infestation.

Sowing Seed
Most cool season grasses (e.g. rye, bent, fescue, Kentucky) are established primarily by seeding.  Some warm season grasses (e.g. Bermuda couch) are also commonly established by seeding. This will be discussed in more detail later.

The success of germination will be affected by: the time of planting - month of the year density at which seed is sown - how much seed is sown per square metre the way the seed is placed - drilled into the soil or covered in some other way by soil - if seed is uncovered it is more susceptible to drying out/attack by birds and other pests.

Sodding
Sodding (Sometimes called Instant Turf) involves covering the area to be turfed with sods of established turf.  Sods can be readily purchased from instant turf companies, or nurseries.  A degree of expertise is required to lay sods properly. Great care needs to be taken to avoid unevenness in the turf surface. The most important things when laying out sod are:

  • That the base of the sod should have good contact with the soil beneath, hence the need for good preparation and levelling.
  • That the sides of each of the sod sections (usually in rolls) are carefully butted up against each other.
  • The ends of each section (roll) of sod are offset, so that they don’t line up next to each other, rather the start and end of each piece of sod are offset to minimise movement

Stolonizing
This involves planting stolons of creeping type grasses by broadcasting sections of stolon over a prepared area, covering them lightly with topsoil and lightly rolling. This is most commonly used in areas with warmer climates.

Sprigging
This involves planting short sections (3 to 4 nodes) of rhizomes or stolons in either furrowed rows or small holes.  Only a short section of the sprig (if any) is allowed to protrude above the surface of the soil.

Plugging
This involves taking small sections of sod (plugs) and swapping them with damaged or poorly grassed areas of a turf.  This procedure is used for repair of damaged areas of established turf as well as (with creeping grasses) to establish selected varieties of turf into a lawn.  Plugging tools (a circular cutting blade similar to an auger) are best for this operation.  Plugging is also a very useful technique for establishing kikuyu or buffalo grass into an area.

Cuttings
Some creeping grasses (e.g. Kikuyu, Couch etc) will grow readily from cuttings (also known as sprigs). These creeping type grasses can also be put through a chaffing machine. The chaffed grass (in effect mini-cuttings) is then spread evenly over an area to be turfed and lightly covered. This is common for establishing Couch (Cynodon dactylon). As long as each section of chaff has one node it will likely send out roots and shoot if conditions are suitable.