How to Plant Grass Seed

Planting Grass seed to start a lawn

Knowing how to plant grass seed whether for a new lawn or for overseeding an existing lawn is important for proper lawn care. It is much more than just tossing seeds on the ground, but isn’t a hard job.

 how to plant grass seed

Prepping the lawn for planting grass seed guide for homeowners

For planting a new lawn from seed:

  • Break up 2-3 inches of the lawn for perfect bare soil.
  • Clean the area of sticks, rocks and roots.
  • Separate clumps of dirt that are larger than 2 inches to properly prepare the soil.
  • Don’t make the dirt too fine, some small clumps on top of the soil are ok.
  • Keep the area level to avoid water collection spots.
  • Now is the time to start planting grass, by using a spreader or your hand to spread the grass seed.
  • Use a starter fertilizer after seeding, preferably with a liquid lawn fertilizer.
  • Don’t use any weed killers before or after planting seed to avoid damaging the grass seedlings.

For overseeding an existing lawn:

  • Mow the lawn as short as possible
  • On all bare spots, break up the top ¼ inch leaving bare soil.
  • Prepare the soil by cleaning the area of debris and remove any patches of dead grass.
  • Identify any low areas where water collects and level them by spreading a thin layer of soil over the existing grass.
  • Fertilize the bare spots after overseeding with a liquid lawn fertilizer
Check out our in-depth guide to planting grass

How to Plant Grass Seed

  • For small areas, use handfuls of grass seed and toss it around the area.
  • Use your hand or a broadcast spreader for large areas.
  • The right amount of seed to apply is approximately 16 seeds per square inch. A dense seed bed causes grass seedlings to fight for room and nutrients. Grass may be weak or thin in these areas, and more prone to lawn disease,and require more weed control measures.

Cover seeds

  • rake grassOn bare spots, drag the area so no more than a ¼ inch of soil covers the grass seed, otherwise it won’t grow.
  • You can also spread straw or peat moss over the area to help build up humidity to aid the grass growing.


Water often

  • Keep the area wet, water plenty, use the proper sprinkler when sowing the seeds as part of your lawn disease control.
  • Water lightly (don’t saturate), and frequently (at least once daily), until the seeds germinate and the new grass is two inches high.
  • Water new grass regularly to keep roots fed, this builds strong roots.

Time to plant grass seed

Grass seed is usually planted in the springtime and autumn with great results.

planting grass seedIf you plan an early spring planting of grass seed, you should not use weed killers on the lawn. Postpone the weed control application until the grass seed has had a chance to germinate and you have mowed the grass a minimum of 3 times.
For an autumn planting of grass seed, keep to the same weed killer precautions and time the seed planting to help the grass seed to completely germinate before cold temps come to visit the area.

When growing grass from seed, you need to know the grass that will grow in which climate zones. Using the wrong type of grass seed will result in more work for you and result in lawn problems that will consume your time instead of just enjoying your lawn.

Warm-Season Grasses

  • Should be seeded from March through September, depending on your specific location and weather patterns
  • Need hot summers and mild winters
  • Grow during summer
  • Go dormant in fall and winter
  • Thrive in temperatures above 80°
  • Generally, need less water, making them drought-tolerant
  • Tend to have wide, coarse blades
  • Should be mown close to the ground
  • Are often overseeded with annual grasses for year-round color.
  • Are generally creeping varieties

The major warm season varieties are Bahia, Bermuda, carpetgrass, centipede, St. Augustine and Zoysia.

Cool-Season Grasses

  • Are seeded mid-August through mid-October, depending on specific location and weather patterns
  • Thrive in regions where winter temperatures reach below freezing
  • Grow during spring and fall
  • Go dormant in summer
  • Thrive in temperatures from 60°
  • Have longer, finer blades
  • Are maintained at a higher mowing level
  • Are generally bunch varieties

The major cool season grass types are bentgrass, bluegrass, fine fescue, tall fescue and ryegrass.

Following these steps will give you the knowledge of how to plant grass seed, and avoid lawn problems that will make you spend more time tending to your lawn rather than enjoying it.

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