Do Roll Out Seed Mats Really Work?

Do Roll Out Seed Mats Really Work?
Have you ever seen those roll out seed mats in the department store? They contain seeds embedded in paper or fabric. Most of them are marketed as "instant flower gardens." Don't they seem too good to be true? Do they really work? Is it difficult to use them? Some gardeners might look down on this type of thing. Well, I'm not above trying them out. When I did, here's what I discovered.

They really do work.
I was renting a small house in the '90s. There were some bare spots near the front steps. One day, while window shopping, I came across a roll out seed mat, imbedded with marigolds. I decided to give it a try, since they were quite inexpensive. I took them home, followed the instructions and within just a few weeks, I had beautiful flowers covering those bare spots. However, I do have to say, there's more to it than just rolling and watering.

Tips and tricks for using seed mats:

You still need good soil.
Seed mats are not a miracle method. All seeds need nutrients to grow. Therefore, you'll still have to till up the soil below them and amend it as needed. Seed mats make for easier planting, however, the rest of the maintenance is the same.
They have to be kept moist.
The seeds in the mat need moisture to sprout, just like any other seed. If you bought them because you don't have time to water and weed, you'll be disappointed. It will be necessary to keep the seed mats moist until flowers reach maturity.
Seed mats work better with a thin layer of soil over them.
The directions don't tell you this. However, after you roll out your seed mats, it's best to cover them with a thin layer of fertile soil. This keeps the seeds from getting too much sun during and right after germination, when they are most fragile.

Beware of GMOs
If you're using vegetable seed mats, read the label carefully. If your seed mat doesn't specify that seeds are organic and GMO free, you may get more than you bargained for. Chemical fertilizers, pesticides and GMOs may be present.

A fun twist
Since my first experience with roll out flower seed mats, I've used them in numerous ways. They're not just for rolling out. You can cut pieces from the roll to scatter in the garden. You can also use pieces for container gardening. What a simple way to grow pots of flowers to brighten up your landscape!