How to Plant Grass Seed for a New Lawn – DIY Guide
Many people think it’s too much effort to plant grass seed, so they need to hire someone to lay sod in order to get that perfect new-lawn look. That’s just plain wrong (and expensive)! Several of my neighbors have spent thousands of dollars on sod installation and lawn services. Worse… some of those neighbors now have major dead patches from pets or their lawns are now overrun with weeds. What a waste of $money when they could have simply planted grass seed!
A luscious, rich, green turf can be sown when you plant grass seed in just a matter of weeks with very little time, money and effort! See our DIY step-by-step guide for planting grass seed below which is best suited for early autumn or spring.
DIY Steps – Planting Grass Seed:
Kill and Remove Existing Lawn
Kill and remove existing lawn, weeds and rocks and test soil pH using a soil kit (see our How to Kill Your Entire Lawn – Step by Step Guide)
Till the Areas using Rotary Tiller
Rent or buy a rotary tiller to till the area to be seeded. We recommend:
Mantis 4-Cycle Tiller Cultivator 7940
Spread Sand and Compost. Till Again.
Spread 1 inch of sand over the sowing area. Till the areas to mix in the sand. Then spread 1 inch of compost over the area and till again until the top layer of soil, sand and compost are mixed thoroughly and the soil particles are roughly marble-sized. Use the top edge of a rake to level the ground.
Adjust Soil Composition and Fertilize Soil
A) It may be tempting, but do not add topsoil (unless screened) as it may contain new weed seeds! However, based on your pH test, it may be an ideal time to amend your soil with peat moss, sulfur or lime.
B) Buy a lawn starter fertilizer (high in phosphorus – like 10-18-10) and a walk-behind fertilizer spreader.
Recommended Spreader: Scotts Turf Builder Edgeguard Broadcast Spreader or Scotts Turf Builder Classic Drop Spreader
Recommended Fertilizer: Scotts Turf Builder Starter Food for New Grass Plus Weed Preventer
C) Adjust spreader settings according to fertilizer instructions and spread fertilizer over entire area to be seeded.
For more information on fertilizers, check out our other posts:
When to Fertilize Lawn? – DIY Tips and Fertilizer FAQ’s
Fertilizer Guide – What the Numbers Mean and Which to Choose
Plant Grass Seed
Buy a grass seed that is suitable for your local climate and sun-exposure. Using your spreader, disperse the grass seed over the entire area. Seed should be not be overly crowded, but should instead be spread as if generously peppered some mashed potatoes. Use the back end of a rake to ensure seed has adequate soil coverage or add a thin layer of compost on top.
(Optional) Use a Lawn Roller
Use a lawn roller to compact the entire area.
Water, Water, Water
After you plant grass seed, immediately water the seeded area lightly using a mist setting or oscillating sprinkler. Do not over-water as this will cause seed to run or erode the soil.
For 1-2 weeks, water 2-3 times a day for about 10 minutes. When the new grass seeds start to sprout, water once a day for about 15-20 minutes. Follow the 1-inch rule when watering: Keep the top 1-inch of soil moist in your new lawn. To do this, simply place a cup where your sprinkler is set and stop watering when the cup is 1-inch full! For best results, water early in the morning which minimizes evaporation and potential fungal disease.
We hope you enjoy your new lawn and were able to help you save some money with some DIY planting grass seed advice!