How to Seed a Lawn for a Lush, Green Yard


A full, green lawn looks like a curb and you want to enjoy an iced tea on the back patio. But when bald spots peek through and weeds overwhelm the grass, the lawn may be more of a thorn in the side than a point of pride. Over-sowing throttles weeds and fills in the grass until it is thick and lush. If you’re unsure how to plant a lawn, all you need is the right tools, smart timing, and a little knowledge of your local climate.

In the simplest case, overseeding adds more grass to a lawn without turning the topsoil. For many homeowners, overseeding is part of general lawn care. Some lawns may need to be littered once a year when drought or disease threatens the grass, and other lawns may need them every few years to lighten the grass and keep it full. Some basic tools like a lawn mower, seed spreader, fertilizer spreader, and rake form the basics of overseeding. With the right grass seeds and timing, overseeding will restore the lawn and make it difficult to withstand the day in the garden.

Tools & materialsHow to seed a lawn: aerate before overseeding


Note: If the lawn is thatched (a compact layer of grass and soil) it may need to be ventilated before overseeding. Otherwise, the grass seeds used in overseeding will not get into the soil to germinate and take root. The ventilation creates holes in the grass and soil through which water, oxygen and vital nutrients can reach the new grass seeds and the roots of the existing grass.

Step 1

Mow and rake the lawn. The goal of overseeding a lawn is to bring the grass seed into contact with the ground. To do this, you first need to mow the lawn. Mow it shorter than usual so the grass seeds have a better chance of reaching the ground. Make sure you wrap the clippings so they don’t get between the seeds and the soil.

After mowing, rake the entire lawn to remove dead grass, stones, sticks, and other debris. This process removes any final barriers between the grass seed and the soil, while also loosening the soil in preparation for sowing and germination.

How to sow a lawn: change the soil


step 2

Change the ground. Soil changes differ from fertilizers in that changes contain specific nutrients and chemical compositions for particular soil types. For example, lime, wood ash, and poultry dung raise the pH of acidic soil to make it more suitable for certain plants and grasses. Changes in sulfur, on the other hand, give the alkaline soil acidity. Adding peat moss for clay soils and compost for sandy soils can also improve the nutrients and condition of the lawn.

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If a lawn has not grown and greened as desired, the soil type and pH value can be determined by means of a soil test. The test results are used to determine what types of changes, if any, the soil will need for grass to develop. Keep in mind that if the soil is at neutral pH and fertile it is unlikely to need any changes.

How to sow a lawn: add the seeds


step 3

Add the seeds. Load the grass seed into a seed spreader and distribute approximately 16 seeds per square inch of soil. The correct seed density depends on the thickness of the lawn you have, so some areas of lawn may require less. You can also spread grass seeds by hand if you don’t have a spreader.

Choose a grass seed that is suitable for your climate or region and that compliments the existing grass. Lawns with grasses of the cool season thrive in different temperatures, such as in the northeast and the Pacific northwest. Warm season grasses grow best in a climate like that of the southern United States. Consultation of the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map can help determine the average local climate in order to select the appropriate type of grass. Look for grass seeds that have been evaluated by the National Turf Evaluation Program as these strains have been tested and found to be resistant to disease, drought, and common pests.

Step 4

Apply fertilizer. Choose the best fertilizer and load it into a fertilizer spreader. Then sprinkle around the lawn first to make sure the fertilizer reaches the edges. Then, follow a similar pattern to mowing, moving in straight rows until all of the lawn is fertilized.

There are several types of fertilizer spreader, including a circular spreader, a handheld spreader, a snap-in spreader, a fall spreader, and a liquid sprayer. Often only a small hand spreader is required for fertilizing small yards, while larger yards with a broadcast spreader require less time and effort. The size of the farm and the type of fertilizer determine which type of spreading is most suitable. For example, liquid fertilizer requires a liquid fertilizer spreader like one of these high quality knapsack sprayers, and medium sized yards can more easily be fertilized with a snap or fall spreader.

How to Seed a Lawn: Water the Lawn


Step 5

Sprinkle the lawn. After fertilizing, water the lawn briefly every day. Water in the morning to maximize water absorption. There is more evaporation in the afternoons and evenings, which means more water is needed to get the same benefits. You don’t want to walk over water as it can wash away the seeds, prevent germination, or encourage straw development and fungus and weeds to grow. If there are puddles or the soil feels spongy, reduce the watering time.

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In order to learn how to seed a lawn, one has to know when to seed, which depends on the climate and the type of grass. Cool season grasses are best sowed in late summer and early fall. The cooler temperatures slow down the growth of the existing grass, but give the seeds time to germinate and grow before the grass rests. Warm season grass is best for early spring through early summer sowing. When this happens, the seed has time to germinate and grow before the warmest summer temperatures hit.

This overseeding method should successfully fill the lawn with lush, green growth. Make sure you choose a grass seed that is designed for your climate and do a soil test to see if the lawn needs additional nutrients to germinate and thrive. Finally, water the lawn for a short time each day, and don’t mow until the new growth reaches 1 to 2 inches in height.

Need help?

Some jobs are better left to the professionals. Receive a free, non-binding estimate from lawn service professionals in your area.

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