Straw Erosion Netting and Successful Lawn Germination

straw erosion netting

They say that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. While we understand that it’s intended as a moral lesson – a reminder to appreciate what we have because if we get caught up in comparisons, we will never be satisfied….

But our landscaping crews can confirm that sometimes the grass really is greener over there.

And we can fix that.

Most of your lawn shows promise.

  • But the area underneath those low hanging tree branches over there is more mud than grass.
  • The area where you had that stump ground out has been torn up as wide as the tree’s canopy (on account of its visible roots).
  • And anyone driving by can see that irregular shape left by the cable company when they needed to service wires on your property.

When the tree – or other problem – is gone, as a full-service tree care and landscape design firm, CVTS-L can get you to the next level.

We will, of course, do the heavy lifting, but there are some things you can do to help the process after we leave.

We understand that you might be expecting a perfectly rolled lawn when we drive away, but the reality is that good grass takes time and you will likely have to live – for at least a brief period – with a temporary straw netting that is designed to hold the grass seed in place to ensure successful lawn germination.

Straw netting was originally designed to be used on hillsides and steep banks to prevent strong rain storms from washing out and eroding new grass seed.

It is pretty much a foolproof way to cover seed and get better germination, but we often encounter situations where clients have had difficulty maintaining the netting or they have taken the netting up too soon – when, really, they didn’t need to take it up at all.

Understanding why we use the straw netting can make it more tolerable and understanding that there are steps you can take to maintain the netting can ensure a successful lawn germination

It might seem like you’re just sitting there watching the grass grow, but when it comes to lawn germination, less really is more (except maybe when it comes to watering, which we’ll talk about in a bit).

Here are seven tips you can use to help ensure successful lawn germination using straw netting.

1. Watering is key.

Watering is the single biggest determining factor as to how your new grass will ultimately look. Watering should begin pretty much immediately after the lawn has been seeded, and the area should be kept moist (but not oversaturated) for the first two months. Moistening the ground to a depth of two-to-three inches will help encourage the roots to grow. However, whether you are relying on natural rainfall, an in-ground irrigation system, a sprinkler or a hose (which we must warn you will take a long time) to hydrate your seeds, you risk washing the seeds away. Find more information about watering newly seeded and sodded lawns here.

2. Straw is great – when it stays in place.

As a rule, straw is the best thing to grow grass in, and on its own it does a pretty good job of keeping the grass seed in place. The problem is that straw, on its own, is prone to blowing away, and when it blows away, it’s worthless. The odds that your grass seeding will be successful will be drastically reduced. Plus, we often work in neighborhoods and subdivisions where the properties are in close proximity to each other, and neighbors don’t want other neighbor’s straw in their yards. The solution is a straw erosion netting that comes with the straw woven within it.

3. The straw erosion netting keeps everything in place – but only if you leave the netting in place.

The solution is to use a netting that holds the straw – and the grass seed – in place so you (and your neighbors) are happy. The netting is supposed to stay in the ground until it disintegrates, and there is no practical reason to remove the netting at any point in the process. Taking it up only increases the likelihood that everything you put in the ground will blow away – defeating the purpose. Not only that, but the act of pulling it up too soon can pull out the new grass seed and its roots.

4. The straw erosion netting is basically foolproof – but there are steps you can take.

As we said above, the netting is basically foolproof, and the hardest thing to do is wait for it to disintegrate on its own. However, there may be a few instances where the client can take specific actions to help maintain the netting. For example, it is likely that a few weeds will come up, and they will push the netting off of the ground. This raised area can get caught in a lawn mower and destroy the integrity of the netting. The trick is to take a knife and cut out that high section before you mow. Other advice about mowing your freshly germinated lawn can be found on our “Watering Guide for Newly Seeded and Sodded Lawns.”

5. If you absolutely must remove the straw erosion netting, please keep this in mind.

Again, there are no practical reasons to remove the netting before it naturally disintegrates, but if it becomes such a nuisance that you just can’t wait, there are some things to keep in mind when taking the netting up. If you take it up too soon, you risk pulling up the new, fresh, soft roots, and if you wait too long, the netting will have already broken down to the point that it shreds into millions of pieces and won’t come up in one fell swoop. Once you can mow the grass once or twice, which is probably about seven to eight weeks after seeding, that’s probably the best time to try to remove the netting – if you absolutely must.

6. The staples can also stay where they are.

The netting is held in place with a series of staples that pin it to the ground. Clients often feel the need to remove every single staple when they remove the netting, but this, too, is unnecessary. The staples are able to remain in the ground. This is good news because there can be dozens – if not hundreds – of staples depending on the size of the property, and that time would be better spent on watering. The only exception might be staples that heave out of the ground on account of Pennsylvania and Maryland’s freeze/thaw cycle during the winter months. We recommend removing those, but the rest can remain where they are.

7. Custom solutions for one-of-a-kind problems.

Your property line – and the netting – are most likely delineated as a series of right angles. Nature, however, rarely conforms so nicely. Penn Mulch is especially well-suited to small (able to be covered with a few pieces of straw), uniquely shaped problem spots on your property. The other benefit of Penn Mulch is that it is more aesthetically pleasing because it is a bluish color. While it’s not as pleasant to look at as the grass will be when it comes in, it is usually an improvement over the dead spot that it’s concealing.


If you keep all of this advice in mind, your grass will be greener on the other side of the process. Straw is still ideal for helping your grass seeds germinate and take root, but, like the grass seed, it is also prone to blowing away. The solution is a straw erosion netting that helps to keep everything in place. The netting will disintegrate on its own, and if it is properly maintained – like using a knife to cut out areas that are pushing it up – there is no reason to take it up. There is also no reason to remove the staples unless they heave out of the ground on their own. If for some reason you do decide to take it up, be sure to wait until you can mow over the grass or you’ll risk pulling out the freshly germinated grass roots and all. Penn Mulch can be used on smaller, more unique patches with the added bonus that it can help camouflage the dead spots until the grass can take over. And, of course, water, water, water.