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For many hobby gardeners, the lawn is the greatest sanctuary that they cherish and care for. This often starts as soon as you put it on. With a lot of effort you want to create the best possible starting point for a gapless and rapid growth of the flat green. The question of whether lawn seeds should be pressed in with the roller after sowing, or whether it is better to sow without a lawn roller, is a particularly controversial issue.

Creating a lawn without a roller?

Hardly any instructions for creating a lawn can do without rolling in, which is an almost unavoidable step after sowing. Once the ground has been prepared and the lawn seed has been spread evenly, the entire lawn area should be crossed over with a suitable lawn roller. This step has the following objectives:

  • Leveling of existing unevenness
  • Uniform soil compaction, as a result no footprints and other local compactions that can be seen later when the soil settles
  • Protection of seeds pressed into the soil from birds and other seed predators
  • Protection against run-off from pouring or precipitation
  • Creation of better "soil contact", i.e. if possible all-round, full-surface soil contact of the seeds

This has the consequence:

  • less dehydration
  • Better absorption of soil moisture over the entire seed coat
  • Better soil contact of the radicles after opening of the seed coat, resulting in better root growth
seed for lawn

On the other hand, some results of a rolled soil speak against this approach when laying a lawn:

  • General soil compaction
  • thus poorer absorption of rainwater
  • Increased risk of punctual washing out by running rainwater and irrigation water that does not seep away
  • Reduced root penetration in already dense, heavy soil

danger: Soil compaction is not always a disadvantage! Very light, loose soils can be improved in their structure and load-bearing capacity by using a roller. The lawn wazle, on the other hand, additionally compacts heavy, already heavily compacted subsoil and the permeability for water, lawn roots and soil beneficials (e.g. earthworms) decreases.

Alternatives to the roller

But how can a lawn be seeded and at the same time the critically viewed rolling of the lawn seeds avoided? First and foremost, it is important to find an appropriate replacement solution for the positive effects of the rolling process:

1. Equalization

The rolling process is predestined for leveling, i.e. leveling, the lawn surface. With a little more effort and a good sense of proportion, the prepared area can also be leveled with the garden rake. Minor bumps, which catch the eye on the bare surface, disappear later anyway in the usual playing and multi-purpose lawns.

2. Compacting

The compacting of the lawn when laying it is controversial anyway. You should not compact heavy, compact soils, so not using the roller is actually an advantage. Very loose and light soils, on the other hand, can be well trampled with an improvised alternative of boards that are strapped to the shoes with garden cord or ratchet straps. Incidentally, these footboards can also be of good service when leveling.

tip: Dense soils, which should not be rolled, usually have a high clay or loam content. If you have no knowledge of soil types, you can also rely on feel and appearance. If a soil appears very solid and lumpy when it is crumbled, it is advisable not to roll it.

3. Establish ground contact

To put it simply, creating a ground connection is about no more or less than the best possible contact between lawn seed and soil. Because of the small size of the seeds in relation to the crumbs of soil, compaction is not critical. Instead, the determining factor is soil coverage of the seeds. It also provides the desired protection against dehydration and bird damage. Instead of pressing the seeds into the ground, you can also choose the opposite way. There are two ways to cover the seeds with soil:

rake in

The area sprinkled with seeds is evenly raked off with the garden rake. The tines guide the seeds a few centimeters into the soil and ensure an even coverage with soil.


The seed that is sown is sprinkled evenly with a one to two centimeter thick layer of soil or sand. Depending on the existing soil conditions, a suitable material for soil improvement can be selected. Dense, heavy soils do well with sanding, while very light soils do well with a layer of garden soil. Common pre-fertilized garden soil also provides nutrients beneficial to development.

danger: If you create the soil contact by applying garden soil, you should adjust the amount of starter fertilizer for the lawn when using pre-fertilized soil. Otherwise there is a risk of over-fertilization with adverse effects on the development of the tender plants.

4. Protection against flushing

A seed rolled firmly into the ground is quite well protected from being washed away by watering or rain. However, there is a risk that water cannot seep away quickly enough on the compacted surface of the earth and the rivulets develop a significantly higher flushing effect. In this way, seeds that have been rolled down can be washed away even when the area is laid out.

If, on the other hand, the lawn is leveled or sprinkled over, the resulting surface has a much lower density and at the same time a significantly larger surface. Even large amounts of water are held and drained well. The risk of water being washed out is significantly lower from the outset on a lawn laid out without a lawn roller.

To roll or not - the final decision

With this information about the advantages and difficulties of using lawn rollers, the question of whether a lawn can be created without a roller can be answered quite easily. In fact, all goals of the rolling process can also be achieved in other ways, albeit with additional effort in individual cases. In dense, heavy soils it is actually advantageous not to use the additional compression. This not only means that it is possible to sow the lawn without rollers. Instead, it is even advisable to leave the widespread rolling device aside under certain conditions.

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