There are just some parts of a lawn where it’s harder to get grass seeds started than others. I encounter this a lot with remodeling projects like decks, fences, and landscape structures where the last part of the project is re-planting the grass I dug up or disturbed. But I also see it in high-traffic areas in established lawns: near a gate or at the bottom of a deck stair, an oft-used walking path or play area, or even a pet’s path.
Seed-Mulch. One thing that makes an area what I call a “hard-start” is that the soil is regularly trampled. In landscape lingo: compacted. Even when you scratch it up with a rake, a little water sets it back up like concrete. And once it does that, any loose seed you put on there gets washed immediately away—even if you mulch it with hay.
Seed-Mulch combos like Pennington Seed’s 1 Step combine seed, a water-retaining mulch and starter fertilizer in the optimum balance. They are excellent solutions for getting grass growing in hard-start areas in large part because they “stick” (if you don’t flood them with water) on the hard soil and give the young grass roots an fighting chance to get started and hooked in.
The higher the traffic the more you want a Seed-Mulch that’ll send its roots down and grow a durable grass blade back up, which is what Pennington says it achieves. We’ve heard from a MyFixitUpLife Friend that this plays out in real life.
I’d refrain from walking on any new seed as much as reasonable until the grass is established. Water as directed.
Another option is what I call “sprigging” or “tufting.”