There are several purposes for installing grass seed such as seeding your entire lawn or overseeding a warm season turfgrass with a cool season turfgrass. Sometimes seed can even be used to repair damaged or patchy areas of your lawn. Seed is cheaper than a full sod installation. The number one issue with seeding is weed pressure since your seed will take time to become established with a thick carpet. You can learn more about when it is appropriate to plant warm and cool season grass seed for general seeding or overseeding projects in When is the Best Time to Plant Grass Seed?. Our seed planting guide below will ensure that you go through all the necessary steps to provide you with an environment that promotes healthy seed growth and establishment.
- Soil Analysis Kit
- Sod Cutter, Roto-Tiller or Glyphosate
- Straw, Mulch or Topsoil
- Broadcast or Drop Spreader
- New Lawn Starter Box
STEP 1: Test The Soil
If you are seeding your entire lawn, the first step we recommend is testing your soil—before you apply chemicals to kill off your old grass and before you install seed. Your soil’s health is what determines the overall health of your grass. Working from the ground up is the best way to ensure superior grass quality.
Be sure to check out our article on Collecting and Submitting a Soil Analysis for more information on soil tests.
STEP 2: Choose The Right Grass Seed
Selecting the kind of seed you want in your lawn is probably one of the most enjoyable parts. You don’t want to just pick a grass that is aesthetically appealing to the eye though—make sure the grass you select fits the environment and climate you live in and matches the right amount of maintenance and time you want to put into it. If you go to a local hardware store, you will see seed blends with ryegrass and bluegrass. If you have a shade problem, you may see an option called a shade blend. The transition zone (North Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, North Texas, and Southern California) uses tall fescue seed. When you get north of i-70 in the eastern United States, you will find that bluegrass is a common option.
Here is a list of some things to do and think about before selecting a type of grass seed:
- Research the area and climate you are located in,
- Familiarize yourself with the different grass characteristics,
- Understand the visual differences between grass colors, textures and other physical aspects.
Browse through our variety of grass seed we sell online here.
STEP 3: Measure Your Planting Area
The second step involves finding out how much seed you will need to order. Be sure to look at the label of the seed bag. It should state how many sq. ft. a pound will cover. One of the most efficient tools available for measuring outdoor spaces is the Area Calculator Tool. This tool helps you understand how much sod you will need to purchase.
- Start by entering your address,
- Draw an overlay shape for where you plan to plant grass seed.
If you wish to read more about the area calculator and some of its features, be sure to take a look at our Area Calculator article. This article breaks all of the steps listed above into more detail and instruction.
STEP 4: Prepare Your Soil
When Seeding a New Lawn
This is one of the most important steps of the process. The success of the seed and new grass will be directly dependent on the conditions in which it is planted. If the soil is bad, the seed will likely struggle to get the nutrients it needs for establishment. This is why it is important to conduct a soil analysis as mentioned in Step 1. Before installation, it is mandatory you clear the area of any currently existing grass or weeds—especially when it comes to planting seed. If the soil is bad, the seed will likely struggle to get the nutrients it needs for establishment. Weeds WILL compete with your seed until your lawn becomes fully established. We recommend following these steps:
- Begin by making an application of Roundup or some other glyphosate-based product 10–14 days before seed planting takes place,
- Wait three to four days and then make a second application if the grass isn’t dying quickly enough,
- Once your grass is dead, use a sod cutter or roto-tiller to remove the top layer of grass and debris.
We have a few product recommendations and rental locations for roto-tillers and sod cutters on our Sod Installation Tools page to get you started with sod removal equipment. If interested in using a sod cutter, be sure to read our article on sod cutters for more details.
When Filling Damaged or Patchy Areas
If you are planning on repairing bare spots with seed, you will want to first rid the area of any problems that may exist. These issues could include weeds, insects or fungus. This can be as simple as pulling the weeds out by hand in the area or as difficult as treating the area with an herbicide, insecticide or fungicide. Browse through our online control products here.
STEP 5: Plant Your Grass Seed And Cover
Now that you have created an environment to successfully grow healthy seed, you can begin with planting. A broadcast spreader or a drop spreader is definitely needed for larger lawns. When seeding, be sure to use the recommended seeding rate on the back of the bag. Time spent seeding your lawn depends on the the size of your yard. Another item you may want to buy is straw or topsoil coating. If you are going to seed on bare dirt, be sure to keep it somewhat protected from birds or weather. You can also lightly rake the seed into the soil after applying to cover it up with a light coating of topsoil. Thin soil coverage helps with germinating. You can use topsoil, straw, mulch or peat moss for this reason. Read Pine Straw vs. Mulch for more information.
STEP 6: Water And Fertilize
Select a fertilizer that provides the necessary nutrients your soil may need according to the soil analysis results you should’ve received by now. We recommend using LawnifiTM Grow as a part of the New Lawn Starter Box applied at ½ rate on your newly planted grass seed. Grow serves to promote healthy root growth of grass seed by providing nutrients like phosphorus, potassium and carbon. The soil should be moist three to four inches deep.
STEP 7: Post Planting Care
For the next 10–20 days, water your newly planted seed at about one inch deep into the soil’s surface everyday. Take rainfall into consideration. Use a sprinkler to mist over the surface of the soil so that it is moist, but not soggy. We also recommend using the remainder of your New Lawn Starter Box in accordance to the application schedule during establishment. Once the seeds start to germinate, keep the top two inches of soil moist until grass reaches a mowing height of around three inches in height. After that, decrease watering to twice per week and soak the soil about six to eight inches deep. Then transition to a regular maintenance schedule based on the grass type you have selected. Review our maintenance calendars here.