Seeding a Lawn

Fall is the right season to reinvigorate your existing lawn or plant a new one. Follow the steps below to help ensure successful results.

Rake Seed Into Soil to Just Cover It

Rake Seed Into Soil to Just Cover It

Rake the newly sown grass seed into the soil just to cover. Lightly water the soil and cover with bird proof netting.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Materials Needed

  • high-quality grass seed
  • lime or sulfur
  • compost
  • fertilizer
  • rake
  • roller
  • spreader
  • rototiller
  • shovel 
  • mulch
  • water sprinkler

Step 1: Know Your Grasses

Turfgrasses are broadly grouped as warm- or cool-season, based upon their optimum temperatures for growth. Generally it's best to use warm-season grasses such as Bermuda grass, centipede grass, St. Augustine grass and zoysia in southern areas (their best growth occurs above 80 degrees F). Use cool-season grasses such as fescues, Kentucky bluegrass and perennial rye grass, in northern areas (their best growth happens between 60 degrees and 75 degrees F). Choose grasses that require less water, such as Bermuda grass, buffalo grass and the improved tall fescues, for dry-climate lawns. Tip: For an attractive winter lawn while the permanent grasses are dormant, overseed warm-season Bermuda grass or zoysia lawns with fast-germinating perennial rye grass seed in mid-October.

Step 2: Amend Soil

Before seeding, spread a 2- to 3-inch-layer of compost, either dolomitic limestone or sulfur, to adjust pH as necessary, and organic or slow-release fertilizer. Use the results of a soil test to determine the correct amount of limestone or sulfur to apply. Mix these amendments into the soil with a rototiller.

Step 3: Rake and Roll

Rake and level the tilled soil, adjusting the soil level to eliminate high and low spots and to slope soil away from buildings. Roll with a heavy water-filled lawn roller to make a firm bed for planting the seed.

Step 4: Sow Seed

Adjust spreader to apply seeds at one-half the recommended rate on the package. Sow seed by walking back and forth across the lawn, overlapping rows by an inch or two. Then, walk at right angles to the first sowing to apply the second half of the seed. Roll the seedbed again.

Step 5: Water and Mulch

Cover lightly with mulch, such as chopped straw, to maintain soil moisture and deter birds from eating sprouted seed. Avoid hay mulch that contains weed seeds. Water with a sprinkler as needed to keep the soil uniformly moist until seeds germinate and become firmly established. Begin mowing with a sharp-bladed lawnmower when grass is about 1/3 taller than the desired lawn height. Caution: Avoid using weed-and-feed fertilizer because it may damage newly sprouting grass.

Keep Reading

Next Up

How to Fertilize Your Lawn and Garden

Learn how adding fertilizer can be beneficial, especially for fruits, veggies and container plants. Fertilizers can also help kick-start growth after planting and reinvigorate plants that have been pruned hard.

Tips for Watering Lawns and Gardens

Without adequate water, plants will suffer and eventually die. Supplies can run short as rapidly growing plants draw up moisture from the soil. It's important to know what to water and how.

How to Create a Level Lawn

Create a level lawn and prevent future problems with this step-by-step landscaping guide to remove bumps and hollows.

How to Repair Lawn Edges

If not repaired, damaged edges will continue to deteriorate, and like any bare patch, they also provide an open invitation for weeds to establish. Reseeding a damaged edge is rarely effective, so try tackling the problem using this simple technique.

How to Treat Your Lawn in the Fall

Keep your lawn healthy in the fall and learn how to repair damaged turf with these step-by-step instructions.

How to Repair Bald Spots in Your Lawn

Find out how to get bald spots in your lawn to start sprouting.

How to Prepare Your Lawn for Winter

Get your lawn in shape to cope with winter by giving it a little TLC in the fall.

Garden Plants and Flowers

Learn how to discover which plants underscore and help define a specific garden design style.

Fall Lawn Care: How to Repair After a Drought

Summer can leave lawns hard and patchy. Try these tips for improving a summer-damaged lawn. 

Garden Design: Connect Your Indoor and Outdoor Spaces

Let your indoor space inspire your landscape design plans.

1,000+ Photos

Browse beautiful photos of our favorite outdoor spaces: decks, patios, porches and more.

On TV

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.