How to Plant Grass Seed (2022)

So you want to plant grass seed? The good news is that planting grass seed isn’t all that difficult, but the bad news is there’s a lot you need to do before you start. Before you fill up your spreader with seed, you need to prepare your lawn, figure out what type of grass seed will work best for your climate, and make sure your soil is in good condition to nurture your grass seedlings while they grow.

If that sounds like too much work for you, don’t worry. This guide will teach you how to plant grass seed quickly and easily with step-by-step instructions. If it still seems like too much work, check out the section on hiring a professional company like TruGreen to do it for you. Spending a little extra on expert lawn care service is the easiest way to seed a new lawn or patch up your current one.

6 Steps For Planting Grass Seed

Many people assume that planting grass seed is as easy as buying a bag of seed at your local gardening supply store and dumping some around their yard. Unfortunately, this approach is bound to leave you disappointed. Here are the six steps required to plant grass seed successfully.

1. Prepare Your Lawn 

The best time to plant grass seed is the fall, which might not be what you’re hoping to hear if you’re looking out the window in July at a scorched lawn. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to salvage a lawn during the summer, but at least you can start preparing your yard for seeding, so you’re ready to go when the temperatures start dropping in early fall.

Fall is a great time to plant grass seed since competition from weeds like crabgrass and dandelions is usually lower. Still, it’s a good idea to remove weeds, preferably by hand, but you can use herbicide if your lawn is overrun. Make sure to choose a herbicide that won’t kill your grass since not all herbicides work for all types of grass.

You should also make any large-scale changes to your lawn, like sloping or leveling it, before planting new seed, especially if you plan to tear up your existing lawn and reseed it from scratch. Leveling an uneven lawn is a big undertaking, so make sure it’s worth it before committing.

2. Choose the Best Seed Type 

Nothing will make seeding your lawn more difficult than choosing the wrong type of grass seed. Not all kinds of grass seed grow well in all climates, so it’s essential that you choose one well-suited to your environment. It’s especially important to select a drought-tolerant seed if you live somewhere with little annual rainfall.

Cool-season Grasses 

Cool-season grasses grow in the northern parts of the country and prefer lower temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Their growing season is early spring and early fall, with limited growth during the summer.

The most common cool-season grasses are Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and tall fescue.

Warm-season Grasses

Warm-season grasses thrive in hot weather and are common in the south. Most warm-season grasses grow the most during the summer when average temperatures range from 85 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. The most popular warm-season grasses are Bermudagrass, zoysia, and centipede grass.

3. Prepare The Soil 

Preparing the soil before planting grass seed is important if you want a lush, healthy lawn. The steps for preparing soil differ depending on whether you’re growing a new lawn or planting seed in an existing lawn.

New Lawns

    1. Test the soil. Any garden supply store will carry a soil testing kit that you can use to measure the ph of your soil. Soil pH is important, and the state of your current soil determines what kind of lawn fertilizer you need to help your new lawn reach its full potential. You want the pH to be between 6.0 and 7.5 for ideal growing conditions.
    2. Remove rocks and roots.  This step can be daunting, so resist the temptation to skip it. Remove large rocks and roots with a pointed shovel, filling in the holes left behind with topsoil. A few passes with a rotary tiller will help even out the soil when you’re done.
  • Mix sand and compost into the soil. Sand protects your soil from erosion, and compost creates a naturally nitrogen-rich environment that will help your grass seed germinate. Add about one inch of sand in a thin layer on top of your soil and use a tiller to incorporate it into the top one inch of soil. Once the sand is evenly mixed, repeat the process with compost, adding one inch and mixing it in with a tiller.
  • Correct the soil pH. Depending on the results of your pH test, you’ll need to add either lime to increase the pH or sulfur to decrease it. Follow the instructions on the bag and distribute the lime/sulfur using a broadcast spreader.
  • Apply starter fertilizer. Starter fertilizer contains all the nutrients new grass seed needs to take hold. Apply it using a spreader after you add lime or sulfur as needed. 
  • Rake the soil. Raking the soil ensures the lime/sulfur and fertilizer are well-mixed with the soil.

Existing Lawns

Preparing an existing lawn’s soil is much simpler.

  • Test the soil. Even if your lawn appears healthy, it’s important to check the soil’s pH to stay ahead of potential changes.
  • Correct the soil pH. The ideal range for soil pH is between 6.0 and 7.5. If your soil test results indicate that your soil’s pH is outside the acceptable range, you can use lime to increase it or sulfur to decrease it.
  • Fertilize your lawn. Apply fertilizer with a spreader where you intend to plant seed. Focus on bare spots, areas with heavy foot traffic, and anywhere that looks thin, but be careful not to add more than the amount recommended on your fertilizer’s packaging.

4. Plant the Seed 

Spread the seed evenly using a spreader. Walk-behind spreaders are great for large properties, but a handheld broadcast spreader gives you more control over dispersing the seeds.

If you’re seeding a new lawn, make sure to rake the seeds gently, so they work their way into the soil. Try to avoid creating piles and clumps. Some people find it easier to use the back of a plastic rake.

Planting seed in an existing lawn is called overseeding and is a great way to patch up bare spots and make your lawn fuller. Overseeding can be easier than planting an entirely new lawn, although it can also be a lot of work if your lawn is in bad shape.

5. Water Lightly & Frequently 

Fresh grass seed needs to be watered frequently for it to take hold. You should water freshly planted seed immediately after sowing, but be careful not to overwater. The goal is to keep the soil moist, not create puddles. Use a sprinkler and move it as needed for the best results.

You should water the new seed two or three times per day in short bursts of five to ten minutes for the first one to two weeks. Once you notice sprouts forming, switch to watering once per day for about 30 minutes.

6. Monitor, Maintain & Mow

After four to six weeks, your new lawn will start taking shape, and you’ll need to start thinking about how to maintain it. Many people mow a new lawn too early, accidentally pulling up the seedlings before they’ve taken root. You should wait at least four weeks after planting to mow new grass. A good rule is to wait until sprouts cover the entire seeded area evenly to a height of three to four inches.

When it’s time to mow, be careful not to cut your grass too short. Most people recommend leaving two to three inches after mowing to reduce the risk of the grass getting out-competed by weeds. You should also make sure your mower is in good shape with sharp blades since dull mower blades can tear seedlings out of the turf.

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ReSeeding vs. Overseeding

Many people are confused about the difference between reseeding and overseeding. The easiest way to remember the difference is to remember that reseeding is used to reintroduce grass in bald spots, and overseeding is used over existing grass to make it thicker.

Some people might use reseeding to mean tearing up a lawn and planting new seed, although it’s usually clear what they mean from the context if that’s what they mean.

Overseeding is a popular way to create a healthier lawn when you notice the signs of thinning or want to protect your lawn from thinning in the future.

When to Plant Grass Seed

Late summer or early fall are the best times to plant cool-season grass seed. High summer temperatures can stifle seed germination, and planting in the spring doesn’t give the fledgling sprouts enough time to mature before the oppressive heat of summer rolls in.

Warm-season grasses usually do best when they’re planted in late spring or early summer. Warm-season varieties prefer higher soil temperatures and will thrive as the summer kicks into gear.

It usually takes about four to six weeks for a new lawn to look like one. Here are some milestones you can look for to assess how your growth is coming along.

  • Seeds are planted: Day 1
  • First sprouts emerge: Weeks 1 to 3
  • Grass is ready to be mowed: Weeks 4 to 6
  • Weed control can begin: Weeks 6 to 7
  • Lawn is fully grown: Months 4 to 12

It’s important to remember that your lawn’s specific timeline heavily depends on where you live and what grass variety you grow. Some lawns will be mature after just three or four months, while others may take up to a year to become fully grown.

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Hiring a Professional Seeding Service vs. DIY

If everything you just read makes you wish you lived in an apartment, hiring a professional seeding service is probably the right move for you. Growing a lawn is a lot of work, especially if you’re planning on tearing up your current lawn and reseeding it from scratch. Luckily, there are professional companies that will do the heavy lifting for you.

Best Professional Lawn Care Service: TruGreen

TruGreen is a national lawn care company available in every state except Alaska. The company offers year-round lawn care and maintenance services, including pest control, fertilization, soil amendment, and overseeding. You can choose comprehensive plans that include many services as a bundle or purchase individual services as needed.

TruGreen’s overseeding service is the best option for people who want to strengthen their lawn but don’t want to take time preparing the soil and planting the seed themselves. Prices vary depending on your location and property size, but TruGreen’s outstanding customer reviews suggest that it’s worth the money.

Read our TruGreen review to learn more.

DIY Seeding

If you opt for DIY seeding, consider using Sunday Lawn Care to source your grass seed. The Colorado-based company tests your soil—you have to send it to them by mail—and will send you a good seed for your climate and soil quality. It also sends you a complete lawn-care package, including fertilizers, organic pest treatments, herbicides, and detailed instructions for using them.

DIY seeding will always be more labor-intensive than hiring a professional service, but Sunday Lawn Care makes it as easy as possible to grow a rich, beautiful lawn on your own.

Final Thoughts

Growing a beautiful lawn sounds easy, but as many homeowners can attest, it’s harder. Behind every thick, green lawn are hours of effort spent testing and correcting soil pH, sowing grass seed, and religiously watering. Whether you choose to expend that effort yourself or have a company like TruGreen do it is up to you, but we know which one sounds better to us.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much grass seed do I need?

It depends on the type of grass you grow but about 5 pounds for a new lawn or 2.5 pounds for overseeding per 1,000 square feet.

How long does it take to reseed a lawn?

Anywhere from 3 to 12 months, depending on your local climate, soil conditions, and what kind of grass you’re growing.

What is the easiest way to plant grass seed?

A walk-behind spreader is the easiest way to plant grass seed.

Will grass grow if I just throw it down?

Maybe. Too much seed or too little seed can hamper its growth or lead to an ugly, patchy lawn. Using a spreader will prevent you from wasting quality grass seed.

What month is best to put grass seed down?

You should plant cool-season grass seed in the late summer or early fall and warm-season in the late spring or early summer.

House Method Rating & Methodology

At House Method, transparency and trust are our most important values for the reader. That’s why we took the time to create an objective rating system and score each lawn company/service according to our methodology.

Our research team dug deep into the fine print of contracts, combed through more than one hundred customer reviews, and thoroughly investigated all of each lawn care service’s services, costs, and products. We’ve done the homework for you by researching nearly all of the lawn care companies on the market so you can have the information you need to make the best choice for your home.

We developed a formula to objectively determine the best lawn care companies and give each a score out of 100 based on the following criteria:

  • Plan Options (30): Do they provide a variety of plan options? We looked at the number of plans each company offered and the flexibility of adjusting the plan.
  • Services offered (20): How many services are offered in each plan? We looked at the number of lawn care coverages, including weed control, seeding, irrigation, aeration, dethatching, and more.
  • Trust (10): What do customers say after their lawn has been serviced? Does this company offer a guarantee? We considered how satisfied customers are post-service if the company does what it says it will, BBB accreditation, and service guarantees.
  • Prices (10): How reasonable are the costs of the plan or service in comparison to the industry average? We compared the costs of each company to competitors that offer the same lawn services.
  • Unique perks (10): Does the company offer discounts or special services such as organic treatments, pest control, or a mobile app? We looked for perks each company offers that set them apart from the competition.
  • Customer Service (10): How is the customer experience when contacting the company? We considered the speed of response, weekend/holiday availability, and ease of communication through phone calls, email, and online chat functions.
  • Nationwide availability (10): How many states does the company offer its services? Companies that operate nationally and in all zip codes are favored over those with limited availability. 

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