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Starting a New Lawn From Seed

The least expensive way to start a lawn is by seed.

Starting a lawn from seed is a snap, especially on an area that is relatively flat. The biggest task is preparing the site and making sure the soil is of good quality. Choosing the right seed is a matter of looking at your yard and your climate. In general there are two broad types of grass: cool season and warm season, each named for the climate and temperature in which it grows best. If you are in a definite warm or cool climate, you can zero in on the grass that will work best for you.

SEE ALL THE STEPS

  •  There are 12 steps to completing this project:
    Step 1  MEASURE THE YARD AND BUY SEED
    Step 2  PREPARE THE LAWN
    Step 3  LAY OUT AN AREA OF THE LAWN
    Step 4  MEASURE THE SEED
    Step 5  SPREAD THE SEED
    Step 6  MAKE A SECOND PASS
    Step 7  RAKE IN THE SEED
    Step 8  ROLL LIGHTLY
    Step 9  APPLY MULCH
    Step 10  WATER TWO TO FOUR TIMES DAILY
    Step 11  BEGIN MOWING TO THICKEN THE LAWN
    Step 12  FERTILIZE
MATERIALS YOU WILL NEED

  • Grass Seed
    Fertilizer
    Mulch
    Chalk or Landscapers Paint
TOOLS YOU WILL NEED

  • Tape Measure
    Rake
    Measuring Cup
    Garden Hose
    Sprinkler
    Spreader
    Lawn Roller

1  MEASURE THE YARD AND BUY SEED


Measure the size of the yard then buy the seed you need—the exact amount will depend on the variety of grass, as well as the size of your yard. A few days before planting, water the lawn to a depth of 6 to 8 inches. Plant when the surface of the soil is dry.


2  PREPARE THE LAWN


Kill the existing grass, rake out debris, grade the yard, and enrich the soil before planting. Give the soil its final grading right before planting.


3  LAY OUT AN AREA OF THE LAWN


Seed is applied at a rate of so many pounds per 1,000 square feet, depending on the seed. Because drop spreaders are calibrated for fertilizer rather than seed, you'll have to lay out an area of 1,000 square feet on your own. If the area is irregular or involves several parts of the lawn, mark the boundaries with flour, chalk, or landscapers paint.


4  MEASURE THE SEED


Weigh the amount of seed in the package. Divide the total weight into the amount you need to spread per 1,000 square feet. Put one-half the amount of seed needed per 1,000 square feet in a drop spreader.


5  SPREAD THE SEED


Set the spreader on a low setting and walk back and forth in rows across the lawn. Shut off the hopper at the end of each row and begin seeding again once you've made the turn. Continue until the spreader is empty.


6  MAKE A SECOND PASS


Put half the amount needed per 1,000 square feet in the empty spreader. Make a second pass across the lawn perpendicular to the first.


7  RAKE IN THE SEED


Rake the soil lightly to cover the seeds with no more than 1/8 to 1/4 inch of soil. It's hard to not cover some of the seed with too much soil. The amount is about right when only about 10 percent of the seeds are visible. It's an art, rather than a science. Trust your eyes.


8  ROLL LIGHTLY


The seeds need good contact with the soil in order to germinate. A light rolling does the job without compressing the soil too much. Roll the lawn with a roller meant to be filled with water but don't put any water in it.


9  APPLY MULCH


Mulching the seed helps keep moisture in the soil and helps prevent erosion until the grass is established. Wheat straw is the traditional lawn mulch, but it sometimes contains weed seeds. Check with your garden centre for a suitable straw or other mulches.


10  WATER TWO TO FOUR TIMES DAILY


Set the spreader on a low setting and walk back and forth in rows across the lawn. Shut off the hopper at the end of each row and begin seeding again once you've made the turn. Continue until the spreader is empty.


11  BEGIN MOWING TO THICKEN THE LAWN


Mowing encourages grass plants to spread out and fill in the lawn. Begin mowing when the plants have reached their typical mowing height, and never take off more than one-third of the leaf blade at a time. For example, cut cool-season grasses back to 2 inches once they reach a height of 3 inches. Cut warm-season grasses back to 1 to 2 inches when they are 1-1/2 to 3 inches tall.


12  FERTILIZE


Once the grass is four to six weeks old, fertilize it, using a slow-release fertilizer at the rate of 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. After eight to ten weeks, give the grass a second application of fertilizer at the same rate.


What You Need for This Project