General tips on sowing seeds

Every seed will have particular requirements so do check the packet for specific details.  However, here are a few general guidelines to help your seeds get off to the best start.

Water the compost before you sow the seeds. 

If you’re sowing in pots or seed trays, sit them in a tray of water to allow them drink up all they need, then let them drain before sowing.  If you’re direct sowing into the ground, give it a good drenching.  Damp soil is ‘stickier’ so more likely to hold on to the seeds than dry soil, and there is less chance of washing seeds away. 


The bigger the seed, the deeper you plant it. 

As a rule of thumb, plant about twice the depth as the seed is wide.  If in doubt, it’s better to be too shallow than too deep; you can always top up with compost once the seed has germinated if you need more depth.  Some seeds, particularly very fine ones, are better scattered on the top of your compost then lightly covered with a dusting of more.

Tamp down to ensure good soil contact. 

Once you have planted, apply gentle pressure to the soil to ensure your seeds make good contact with it.  They need the moisture and nutrients it will provide to get going, not to mention to anchor roots into so their top growth can shoot upwards.


Most seeds need heat to germinate.

There are a few plants – usually wildflowers or domesticated plants bred from wildflowers – which need a good cold spell then warmth before they will germinate.  This is a natural mechanism to prevent them growing in a mild December and then being annihilated by a chilly March!  However, if you are buying seeds in packets, it is likely that any such preparation will have been done for you.  Unless the seed packet says otherwise, heat and light will make your seeds think it’s spring and, therefore, time to get growing.

Provide good drainage and good airflow. 

Water-logged soil or overly humid conditions are the enemy of seeds and seedlings; they are likely to cause them to rot.  If your seeds need water, water but let it drain away so the soil isn’t saturated.  If you have covered them to build up some heat, check regularly to ensure condensation isn’t building up.

Find our seed sowing calendars for flowers, vegetables and herbs here.

And we’ve written about growing broad beans here – will we convince you to try some?




N. Haggard 20 September 2022

I just wanted to drop you a quick note to say how delighted I am with my new garden.

Jon, my designer, listened to my ideas and delivered on everything I asked for. I wanted something different to any garden I’d had before, no lawn, no landscaping but packed with plants. He designed such a lovely secret garden, around a statement tree. And I have to commend him for his unwavering patience! I changed my mind a hundred times but never did he give me the impression that he was losing patience with my endless indecision. And my confidence in him led me to place an order for over £10k.

My landscaping team, Blade and Tony, were exceptional, from their work ethic, skill and knowledge, to the way they dealt with me, the customer. My standards are very high and I couldn’t fault them.

All in all, a very professional team of people. And it showed that they all care. I’m over the moon with the finished result. I will send you a before and after photo. Thank you so much.

A delighted customer.

G. Gray. May 2022

My front garden has been transformed by Andy and Bradley who both worked incredibly hard and I am delighted with the result. Andy had the vision and skill to turn my idea into reality and I can't thank him enough.

C. Haig Sept 2021

We recently had our garden landscaped by Hambrooks and I just wanted to pass on my thanks, not just for the outcome - which is superb - but for the professionalism of all the staff involved on the job who are all a credit to you company. Mike, Dave, Les and Adam.

H. Sharp Sept 2021

I just wanted to let you know how delighted I am with my new garden. Melanie was a delight to work with and the ideas she had have worked perfectly. Also Sheldon laid the patio beautifully and him and Dave were a pleaseure to have at my house. Quiet workers and polite.

B. Rendell April 2021

I would like to say how delighted we are with the work carried out. Mel, Paul and Tony all worked very hard, they totally took on board the specific need relating to safety as well as the general garden issues. Paul and Tony were excellent at consulting and discussing with me what I felt best in terms of the brief and adjusting if and as necessary, constantly pleasant and polite to deal with. Mel had picked up on particular issues from the first consultation and offered valuable advice. The outcome means a great deal less worry for me going forward.
Altogether a very positive experience and outcome which I would not hesitate to recommend to others.

Stephen March 2021

Dom and Adam's work (garden maintenance) is greatly appreciated. Dom really listened to everything we discussed very carefully and went out of his way to understand and then act upon that discussion. We are extremely pleased with the work done - both to the pond and pyracantha.


We have been coming to Hambrooks for years and it's our favourite garden centre because of its friendly helpful staff and a great selection of plants and trees and the garden design ideas.

“We wanted to write and say how pleased we are with our low maintenance garden makeover. We are very impressed with the attitude of your staff who were prepared to listen to our requirements. Your team John and Rick brushed up and left everything tidy at the end of the day. We now have a garden we can manage and it looks great. THANK YOU HAMBROOKS.”

Mr & Mrs Venables, Southampton. April 2019

“Dear Josh & Mike We just want to say you both did a brilliant job of designing our garden along with the guys who did the work who were amazing. A few weeks on its looks even better now some of the plants are blooming. Thank you!!”

Mr & Mrs Gazzard, Winchester July 2019

“To James, John & Rikki. Thank you so much, we are delighted with our new garden. We really appreciate the attention to detail, the high quality workmanship and the standard of the finished project. We are amazed at how John & Rikki resolved the difficulties of the site and by the quality of their craftmanship. It was a pleasure to work with them and thank you for making our ideas into something we will enjoy for years to come.”