Grass seeds in the hand

How to Choose and Plant the Right Grass Seed for Your Lawn

By Tara Sebolt

The House Method team researches, reviews, and recommends a number of services, including lawn care providers. Affiliate disclosure.

It’s no secret that many of us are obsessed with having a beautiful lawn. If you long for thick green grass to surround your home, you’re certainly not alone. According to the National Association of Landscape Professionals, 78% of adults in the US reported having a home with a lawn or landscaping in 2016.

Getting a beautiful lawn, however, is a matter of patience and perseverance. You’ll need to learn practical skills to properly plant and grow grass seed. On top of that, you’ll need to know what grass seed types are the best choice for your lawn based on climate and region.

We’ve put together this guide on choosing the right grass seed for your lawn. You’ll learn how to plant grass seed and grow a lawn from scratch. You’ll also find a breakdown of different types of grass seed and where they thrive.

Planting grass seed, growing a lawn, and maintaining your grass takes a lot of time and effort. If you’re thinking it’d be easier to hire a professional, we recommend TruGreen for all of your lawn service needs. Get your free quote from TruGreen by giving them a call at 888.535.3193 or providing your zip code online.

How to plant and grow grass seed

Growing the perfect lawn starts with the proper planning, planting, and monitoring grass seed growth. Starting a lawn from scratch requires you to know a bit about your lawn’s climate, soil type, shady areas, and amount of foot traffic. These varying factors will help you determine everything from what type of grass seed to use to when you should plant your new lawn.

Before we get into the gritty details of choosing a grass seed and growing a lawn, we want to give you an overview of growing grass. The basic steps to planting your new lawn are to prep the soil, plant the grass seed, maximize soil to seed contact, and water the lawn appropriately.

We’ve broken down each step below:

1. Prepare your soil

Before you plant any grass seed, you’ll want to prep your soil to create the best grass growing conditions. You’ll need to remove any large debris from the soil, such as rocks or sticks, as well as pulling any existing plants such as weeds. Large clumps of soil should be broken up into smaller pieces, but some clumps are OK. Soil that’s too fine will make it difficult for your seeds to establish roots.

You can test your soil to see if it is lacking any major nutrients or to determine its pH level. Use a soil testing kit gives to see what various nutrients you should add into the soil before you plant any grass seed. You can also add organic matter or fertilizers into the soil at this time. Lightly rake or till the area of your lawn so that it’s receptive to the grass seed.

2. Plant the grass seed

By hand or by using a spreader, evenly distribute grass seed onto the raked or tilled area of your lawn. For best results, try to plant about 16 seeds per square inch of soil. Too many seeds in one area can cause them to fight to establish roots and use resources. This can lead to bare spots or patchy, thin grass.

Once you have the seeds planted, use a garden rake to gently cover them with approximately one-fourth inch of soil. Take care not to add pressure when you’re raking. You only want to cover the seeds lightly, not move them. It’s common to still see some seeds on the soil’s surface after raking.

3. Use a lawn roller to protect newly-planted seeds

Press the soil over the newly-planted grass seed using a lawn roller. Rollers help tamp down the soil and encourage seed to soil contact. This gives the grass seed a better chance to grow roots that will bind with the soil. Rolling your lawn after planting grass seed is also a great way to prevent soil erosion and protect your newly planted grass seed from birds looking for a tasty snack.

4. Water your lawn

Once you’re done planting your grass seed, you’ll want to establish a proper watering schedule. In all parts of the country, correct watering of newly planted grass seed can make or break a gorgeous lawn. The goal of watering new grass seed is to keep the roots moist without drowning the young plants. Make sure whatever method of watering you’re using (sprinkler, hose, etc.) is distributing water evenly. You can also use a small amount of mulch or straw over the seeded area to help retain moisture.

Along with the basic steps to planting grass seed, you might be wondering about timing, types of grass seed, or how to fill in patches of an existing lawn. Below we’ve collected some of the most common questions pertaining to grass seed to get you the answers you need.

FAQ: Applying grass seed

What’s the difference between warm-season and cool-season grass seed?

The main difference between cool-season and warm-season grass seed is the temperature of their optimum growth. Cool-season grass seed will have an ideal temperature range of 60°F and 75°F. Warm-season grass varieties have a warmer temperature range, with their optimum growth happening between 80°F and 95°F.

When should I put down grass seed?

The best time to seed a lawn is in late summer to early fall. This avoids the overbearing heat of summer and usually leads into a slightly rainy season. The second-best time to plant grass seed is in early spring to take advantage of spring rain showers. Be aware, however, that early spring may not give your grass seed time to properly mature before the heat of summer or annual weed growth appear.

What is a good grass seed to use?

The right grass seed for your lawn will vary greatly depending on your climate, lawn slope, shady areas, and lawn traffic.

How long does it take for grass to germinate?

Grass germination can take anywhere from five to 30 days. Once your grass seed has germinated, you should monitor your lawn for even growth and the emergence of any crabgrass or weeds.

How long does unused grass seed last?

You should be able to store leftover grass seed in a cool, dry, airtight container for at least a year. You can use leftover grass seed to reseed patches that may not have grown as thick as you’d hoped. Make sure any grass seed you plan to store is clean and dry before storing it.

Can I put new grass seed on an existing lawn?

Yes. Known as overseeding, adding grass seed to an existing lawn is a great way to introduce new varieties of grass into an established lawn or fill in patchy or thin areas.

How long will it take for my grass seed to grow?

After germination, you’ll want to avoid foot traffic on your seeded lawn for the first two to four months. This gives your grass seed time to grow and establish roots. After this time, your grass should be rooted enough to begin maintenance, such as mowing, once it reaches the appropriate height for your type of grass seed.

Grass seed application methods

Choosing the right tools for the job can help make planting a new lawn much easier. There are two main types of lawn spreaders. Below you’ll find a quick overview of the different types of lawn spreaders and which one is best for different lawn types.

Spreader Type Description Best For Pros Cons
Broadcast spreader Distributes grass seed in a fan-like manner across a wide area. Large lawn areas
  • Cover wide areas
  • Make planting more efficient
  • Seed distribution is less uniform
  • Affected by wind
  • Difficult to get uniform coverage
Drop spreader Grass seed is dropped straight down through the spreader in rows. Small lawns or edges that require precision
  • Easy to get uniform coverage
  • Not generally impacted by normal winds
  • Great for edges near driveways or sidewalks
  • Cover less ground
  • Takes longer to use
  • Require more passes for distribution

You can also sprinkle or drop grass seed by hand for exact precision in certain areas. Hand-seeding is generally not recommended for establishing large areas of a new lawn but can be a great way to fill in specific patches or tight spots around garden fences or sidewalks.

Spreaders can also be used to distribute lawn fertilizer into your soil or onto your existing lawn. Be sure to choose the right fertilizer for your lawn’s needs.

Fertilizer Spreader

Basic types of grass seed

Grass seed is categorized into warm-season or cool-season. However, within these two types of seed, there are many different seed varieties. Different grass seed types will have varying advantages and disadvantages, including traffic and shade tolerance. Our chart below shows some of the features of popular cool-season and warm-season varieties.

Name Cool or warm Defining features Traffic tolerance Shade tolerance
Bermuda Warm-season
  • Dark green
  • Fine to medium leaf texture
  • Dense and low-growing
Excellent Poor
Centipede Warm-season
  • Dense
  • Medium to dark green
  • Low maintenance
Poor Good
Zoysia Warm-season
  • Light to medium green
  • Fine to medium leaf texture
  • Easy to maintain
Superior Good
Bahiagrass Warm-season
  • Drought-tolerant
  • Great for pastures or grazing
Excellent Good
Kentucky bluegrass Cool-season
  • Dark green and dense
  • Beautiful appearance with uniform leaves
  • One of the most common lawn grasses
Medium Poor to Moderate
Ryegrass Cool-Season
  • Medium-dark green
  • Fine, smooth leaf texture
  • Easy to maintain
Fair Moderate
Tall fescue Cool-Season
  • Medium to dark green
  • Extensive root systems
  • Grows in bunches
Good Moderate
Colonial bentgrass Cool-Season
  • Light green
  • Fine-tipped leaf texture
Poor Moderate

Choosing the best type of grass seed for your region

Although grass seeds are split into cool-season or warm-season varieties, different types within these varieties grow better in different regions. There are generally five types of climates with different grass seed recommendations for each. Below we’ve listed which type of grass grows best in each climate.

Climate Region Example States Best Grass Seed
Cool/humid
  • Washington
  • Oregon
  • Wisconsin
  • New York
Scotts Tall Fescue Grass Seed
Cool/arid
  • Idaho
  • Montana
  • Colorado
  • Inland California
Scotts Perennial Ryegrass Seed
Warm/humid
  • Florida
  • Coastal Georgia
  • Coastal Louisiana
Pennington Bermudagrass Seed
Warm/arid
  • Southern California
  • Arizona
  • Western Texas
Scotts Zoysia Grass Seed and Mulch
Transition zone
  • Missouri
  • Southern Illinois
  • Kentucky
  • West Virginia
Pennington Kentucky Bluegrass
 
Macro detail of grass seed background

Planting grass seed: DIY or hire?

While there’s something rewarding about growing your own lawn, grass seed can be incredibly picky. Not only does it require time and physical effort, but the planning and science that goes into picking the right grass seed (or a mix of grass seeds) for your climate and soil type are best left to professionals like TruGreen.

DIY

  • Planting grass seed yourself can be cheaper. You’ll likely save money on the seed and labor to plant the grass seed. However, if you don’t get everything exactly right, you may be buying more grass seed to replant and try again.
  • Your lawn may require the planting be done with large tools like lawn tractors or specialized grass seed spreaders. If you do invest in these implements, it’s unlikely that you’ll use them again.

Hire

  • You get the expert advice and experience of lawn care professionals.
  • A professional lawn service will have the tools and equipment to properly plant and maintain your lawn.
  • If something goes wrong, most companies will take responsibility to fix the problem. TruGreen, for example, offers their Healthy Lawn Guarantee®◆.

House Method’s recommendation for all things grass seed: TruGreen

Using a lawn service to plant and maintain your grass seed can greatly reduce the time you spend worrying about your lawn. Plus, once your lawn is established, professional services like TruGreen continue to maintain your grass, so you can keep enjoying a healthy, beautiful lawn.

At House Method, we recommend TruGreen as your provider for establishing and maintaining a lush, green lawn. Some of the perks of TruGreen include:

  • Professionally trained service technicians—You’ll know your lawn receives expert care.
  • Healthy Lawn Guarantee®◆—TruGreen backs their services with an unmatched 100%-satisfaction guarantee.
  • Healthy Lawn Analysis®✦—A beautiful lawn starts from the roots up. During this lawn inspection, a specialist looks at your lawn’s overall health to determine what type of grass seed, fertilizer, or other applications might be right for your lawn.
  • Personalized lawn treatments—Each lawn care service from TruGreen provides applications that are tailored for your lawn specifically.

TruGreen offers several lawn service packages. They also provide pest control services to keep annoying bugs like mosquitoes at bay. Their lawn service packages include:

TruHealthSM Lawn Plan TruCompleteSM Lawn Plan TruSignatureSM Lawn Plan
  • Lime
  • Pre-emergent & targeted weed control
  • Fertilization
  • Healthy Lawn Guarantee
  • Healthy Lawn Analysis
  • Lime
  • Pre-emergent & targeted weed control
  • Fertilization
  • Healthy Lawn Guarantee
  • Healthy Lawn Analysis
  • Aeration
  • Lime
  • Pre-emergent & targeted weed control
  • Fertilization
  • Healthy Lawn Guarantee
  • Healthy Lawn Analysis
  • Aeration
  • Tree & Shrub plan

If you’re not ready to take on the labor-intensive task of planning, planting, and monitoring grass seed for your new lawn, consider TruGreen a perfect solution. Get a free quote today by calling them at 888.535.3193 or filling out their online form.

A child and a young golden retriever are running on the green grass outdoors.

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*America’s #1 lawn care company based on U.S. market share of professional lawn care companies. 2017 NorthStar Partners U.S. Share Tracker.✦Purchase of full lawn plan required for Healthy Lawn Analysis, which is performed at the first visit. ◆Guarantee applies to full plan customers only.

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