Over the past few days, we’ve been working to provide you a comprehensive guide on how to plant grass seed. It’s tough to find the answers below compiled to one working post, and even more frustrating when you have to sift through forum responses to get your answers. We wanted to make it as clear as day that when you come searching for answers, we’re going to provide you as much as we can to help!
In theory, planting grass seed is a simple process. That being said, there are some pitfalls and things you should be looking out for when you go to plant it. So let’s get started!
Table Of Contents For This Post
- 1 What Kind Of Grass Seed Should You Buy?
- 2 Best Time To Plant Grass Seed
- 3 How To Plant Grass Seed:
- 3.1 Step 1 – Preparing the Area for Grass Seed
- 3.2 Step 2 – Test Your Soil
- 3.3 Step 3 – Planting Grass Seed
- 3.4 Step 4 – Watering and Maintenance of Planted Grass Seed
- 4 What Not To Do When Planting Grass Seed:
What Kind Of Grass Seed Should You Buy?
Right out of the gate, we recommend buying a blend of grass seed composed of multiple grass types instead of just one individual blend? Why? Here are our reasons below:
- Grass seeds can be attacked by various weather conditions or yard pests. Having only one kind of seed can be detrimental to getting it to grow if anything disturbs it. Blended seeds have a mixture of grasses that are resistant various conditions or pests, thus allowing your grass to grow regardless of condition or if a pest is persistent.
- Germination Time. Various grass seeds germinate at different times. Kentucky Bluegrass can take up to 28 days to fully germinate, while perennial rye grasses can germinate as early as 5 or 6 days. If you picked a grass seed that took a while to germinate, your bare are could be infiltrated by quick germinating weeds that would snuff out the longer germinating grass. In short, a blended mix is your best opportunity to weed busting!
What about grass seed price?
Buying grass seed is something you don’t want to shortchange. While buying cheap is a good strategy at times, buying cheap grass seed can have your yard looking like a pasture full of thick bladed grass. There is also a limit of how expensive grass seed can be. After all, it’s just grass! We recommend to stay in the middle of the road when it comes to price and make sure you speak to someone at a garden center or with a landscaping company to help make your decision. You’ll want to buy a blend that’s suitable for your yard and area, and will provide a solid germination pattern to help make your new grass look as healthy and vibrant as possible!
Best Time To Plant Grass Seed
Depending on your regional location. Choosing the right time of the year to plant grass has a direct impact on how successful it is at germination. Choosing the proper time when planting grass seed will help your grass seed grow quickly, germinate properly, and remain healthy while the new seedlings establish themselves.
Northern US Region / Planting Grass Seed in the Fall
Aligning your location and seeding time is important for success. Typically people research “when is the best time to plant grass seed?” The answer is really based on where you live regionally. Northern climates require grass that flourishes during the summer and early fall, where the temperatures are cooler. This is essential, because the northern regions have to deal with winter, so they need a grass that can sustain cooler temperatures and be survive the elements that come with it.
Grass Seed Types for the Northern Region
Before consulting with a landscape specialist at your nearest garden center, we can give you an idea of what types of grass do well in the northern region. Those grasses most commonly are Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescues, and perennial ryegrass.
What if I missed fall seeding? Is the Spring still OK for the Northern Region?
It’s your second best option, really it’s the only other option if you can’t do it in the fall. We recommend planting your grass seed early in the spring season if you’re in the northern region. Ideally, you’re aiming for the daytime temperature to be in the 60-75 degree Fahrenheit range. The reason for this is that it’s the optimal soil temperature for cool-season grass to germinate. However, the issue with the spring in the north how inconsistent the weather can be. Late summer or early fall is ideal because you’re less inclined to see an early frost or even snow as opposed to early spring.
Southern US Region / Planting Grass Seed in the Spring
For the warmer climates in the US, we recommend planting your grass seed in the spring and early summer. Wait to plant your grass seed until the daytime temperature is a near-consistent 80 degrees Fahrenheit and the danger of a late spring frost is no more. Frost can stunt or severely limit the growth of grass. Likely one frost is survivable but it hinders the growth of the grass seed. If you plant too early and face multiple touches of frost, you may have to end up reseeding and starting over.
Grass Seed Types for the Southern Region
Grasses that perform well in the southern US are Centipede grass, Bahiagrass, Bermudagrass and Zoysia grass. Make sure you speak with a landscaper or garden center specialist if you have any further questions about what grass to plant or when to plant it. Remember, you want to do this once!
How To Plant Grass Seed:
In this section, we’ll actually dive in on how to plant grass seed. From completely bare areas to overseeding an existing lawn, we’ll give you the ins and outs on planting grass!
Step 1 – Preparing the Area for Grass Seed
The foundation of a healthy lawn starts with the proper preparation of the area you plan to spread your grass seed. If you plan on grading your area, we recommend making sure that your grading slopes away from any structures (avoid water issues) at a rate of 1% to 2%. Unless you can’t avoid it, we recommend to not going any steeper as it can cause your lawn to dry out quicker, or create wet spots that are hard to cut and prone to disease.
Preparing for New Lawns or Bare Areas
- Use a shovel or tiller to loosen the top two to three inches of soil.
- Clear the area of debris(stones, sticks, roots, weeds, etc).
- Make sure to break up soil clumps that are larger than a half-dollar.
- Avoid too fine soil as well, you’re looking for smaller clumps/thicker dirt.
- Don’t spray weed killer on the ground prior to planting grass.
Preparing to Overseed Your Existing Lawn
- Mow/Trim the area you want to overseed as short as possible.
- Remove any debris existing in the bare spots.
- Loosen the soil up to an inch in the bare spots.
- Make sure to level the area if excess water collects.
- Either use the existing soil you loosened up, or mix that soil with fertilized soil you buy from a store.
- If you’re just using existing soil, feel free to use a grass seed growth accelerator mixture that works with your blended grass seed.
Preparing to Replace the Entire Lawn
If you’re planning to replace your entire lawn. We recommend spending extra time and doing a thorough job of removing the old turf. There are a few ways to complete this. You can use a sod cutter to remove the old grass at its roots.
Another way of removing the entire lawn is spraying it with a non-selective herbicide. A non-selective herbicide will kill both grass and broadleaf plants. We recommend that if you choose to spray, to follow the label instructions completely and avoid contact with grass or plants you wish to save. Only after the products designated waiting period should, and if you don’t need to reapply, should you prepare to plant the new grass seed.
Then follow the steps above for preparing new lawns or bare areas.
Preparing to Plant Grass After Tree Removal
If you’ve just had a tree removed, there are a few additional steps that you need to take care of prior to planting your grass seed. Typically when a tree or stump is removed, the tree removal company will leave the wood chippings or even the stump (if you didn’t pay to have it removed). In order to avoid any potential nutrient loss, you should do the following prior to planting grass seed.
- Dig out the stump and remove all exposed roots where possible.
- Remove as much of the mulch/tree wood chipping that you can. We recommend a manure/bedding pitchfork like this one from Lowe’s to help with that.
- As a word of advice, raking and gathering is incredibly tedious without a pitchfork – while this may be a tool you only use once, it can help speed up the time considerably.
- If there is a hole from where the tree stump was, add topsoil to be an inch or two higher than its natural or new grade. This allows for settling.
Step 2 – Test Your Soil
While many will say this is optional, we say forgo testing if you’re just planting grass to fill a certain spot, but we recommend this if you’re planting a larger area. We bucket this under it’s better to do this first than having to do it after the first failed attempt. It’s just better to know right off the bat what nutrients you may need (if any at all) to help grow grass in your designated area. There are different ways to do a soil sample. Any good landscaping company or garden center will be able to provide assistance, and of course, there is the do it yourself route.
If you do a soil test and your lawn requires specific nutrients, any home and garden center will have the available supplies to correct the issue.
Step 3 – Planting Grass Seed
Now that your area is cleared and prepped. We get to the easy part! Actually planting the grass seed! Read below for the step by step guide to planting your grass seed. The steps are identical for planting any kind of grass, for any region. If you have further questions on instructions, feel free to refer to the bag instructions for the blended mix that you have purchased.
- Spread the grass seed evenly across the area.
- This can be done by hand, by a spreader, or a drop seeder – depending on the size of the area any option will suit.
- Apply approximately 16 grass seeds per square inch. Grass seeds that end up too close together can cause the seedlings to fight each other for nutrients. This can end up making the area you plant grass in appearing weak or thin.
- After you have a nice layer of grass seeds on your area, use a rake to agitate the seed into the soil, or cover the seeds up with a layer of turf builder and gently rake if you want to apply a fertilizer.
- If you’re planting on a hill, you can apply a thin layer of hay/straw to avoid washout of the seed during rain/watering. Make sure you can see the seedbed after you lay the straw, as this ensures proper sunlight to the seed.
Step 4 – Watering and Maintenance of Planted Grass Seed
Now that the seed has been planted, all you can do is water and wait for germination. We recommend that you lightly water the planted grass seed 2-3 times a day. You want to do this consistently until your seedlings are established in the soil.
Once your new seedlings have reached mowing height, you should reduce your watering down to once or twice a week, but more thorough. After your grass reaches above two inches, you want to avoid cutting it too short, to help reduce potential weeds from creeping into your fresh new grass!
Step 4A – What Happens If Weeds Grow In My New Grass?
The chances of this happening to anyone is high if you’re not an experienced landscaper. The great thing about this is that it’s not really an issue that needs immediate treatment. Weeds have a tendency to pop up in new grass purely because dormant weeds are always in the ground waiting to sprout. This can be accelerated because of the consistent watering of the ground.
We recommend waiting to treat your new grass with weed-control products until you’ve cut your grass at least 4-5 times. Ensuring that your new grass is firmly in the ground prior to treatment is the major issue here, so cutting it a few times and allowing it to grow back is ideal prior to weed treatment.
What Not To Do When Planting Grass Seed:
- Don’t just buy any type of grass seed. Buy the best-blended grass seed mix for your region/area.
- Don’t guess at how much grass seed you need. Measure the area, remember 16 seeds per square inch is your coverage goal.
- Plan how you’re going to water your grass seed prior to actually laying it down. You don’t want to plant and wait a few days while you figure out how to irrigate your new area!
- Don’t water too heavily after planting. Remember to lightly water 2-3 times a day until the grass is 2 inches high, then 1-2 times a week heavy water until you’ve cut it at least twice.
- Finally the obvious, do not allow kids or pets to walk on the planted area until the grass grows. You want to avoid as much disturbance as possible with the newly seeded area!
So there you have it. The exhaustive guide on learning how to plant grass seed! Have questions or comments? Feel free to reply below!