How to Plant Grass Seed

Learning how to plant grass seed is not as complicated or labor intensive as you might imagine.

Actually, I find that it’s easier to plant grass seeds than any other type of seeds I’ve worked with. And I’m not even a “start plants from seeds” type of gal, so if I can learn how to plant grass seed, I’m sure you can too!

First off, let me just say that this article is NOT going to get into the ins and outs of different types of grass seed – fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, ryegrass.

Let’s get real…if you’re like me, you could probably give a rip about the difference between each of these grasses, and have no interest in learning anything about them…you just want to learn how to plant grass seed and be done with it!

So that’s what I’m going to focus on…giving you some concrete, easy to follow steps on how to plant grass seed.

Step 1 – How much seed?

How much seed

When considering how to plant grass seed, the very first step is to determine exactly how much seed you will need!

How large is your yard and how much of it is in a sunny location and how much is in a shady location?

If you have a one acre lot, for example, how much of that lot receives a good amount of sun, and how much is located in the shade? If it’s about 1/2 and 1/2 you know that you’ll need 1/2 acres worth of seed for a sunny spot, and 1/2 acres worth of seed for a shady spot.

You’ll need to purchase different types of seeds for each area. Grass seed designed for a sunny spot, will not grow well, if at all, in heavy shade. 

You’ll also need to know at what rate you intend to apply the seed. I always go for a heavier amount of seed, regardless of whether or not I’m planting a new lawn.

While it is possible to overseed a lawn, I’ve always found that the opposite happens…not enough coverage!

Step 2 – How much traffic?

Do you have kids and pets that will be running around all over your lawn? If so, you’ll have to purchase a seed that is designed specifically for heavy traffic. You’ll regret it if you don’t.

Some grass is simply not able to tolerate a lot of wear and tear, and you’ll watch all your hard work go down the drain when Fido destroys it in one afternoon.

purchase a seed that is designed specifically for heavy traffic

Don’t give Fido that chance!

Step 3 – Prepare the spot!

If you’re working with bare soil and establishing a new lawn, the area should already be prepared with a fresh layer of top soil that has been loosened to a depth of about 3 inches, and then raked smooth.

If you’re starting with an established lawn that you are trying to improve on, you’ll want to cut the grass extra short so that when you spread the seed, the seed actually reaches the soil.

You’ll also need to rake the area heavily with a garden rake (a thick pronged steel rake) to level out any uneven areas, loosen the top soil, and remove any thatch (dead grass caught between the healthy grass blades.) This will help the seed to burrow down and take root.

Also, if you’re going to aerate your lawn, now is the time to do it. This step can be skipped if you like, but aerating your lawn can help improve the condition of your lawn over time.

Step 4 – Spread the seed!

You’ll need some type of spreader for this step if you don’t already have one. Do yourself a favor and purchase a rolling “spreader” – don’t be suckered into one of those hand spreaders unless you have a tiny, postage-stamp size yard. They’re not easy to work with, and it’ll be difficult to spread the seed evenly.

Spread the seed

For smaller yards, a drop spreader usually works nice (the seed is literally dropped evenly from the spreader as you push it around the yard) however for a larger lawn, a broadcast spreader will probably be more efficient.

The seed is dropped into a round tray that spins and “broadcasts” the seed in a large circle around the spreader as you walk around the lawn.

Step 5 – Water, water, water!

Ok, before you water your lawn, make sure you protect your seed from blowing away, or getting washed away.

If you’re laying seed on an established lawn to improve the thickness, this may not be necessary because the current lawn will protect the seedlings underneath.


For a newly established lawn, you can lay the seed down, and then press it into the soil a bit with the use of a roller. This isn’t absolutely necessary, but some people like to do this to smooth out the area as much as possible and press the seeds into the soil.

You do not necessarily need to place hay or straw over the new grass seed, unless the grass seed was planted on a sloped area. Using hay or straw can actually be problematic as there can be seeds left in both substances, causing weeds in your new lawn.

Lightly spreading a bit of soil over the newly planted seeds can be just as effective.

And then water!

You don’t want to douse the area so that there are puddles of water left on the ground…this will drown the young seedlings and could wash them away. 

Simply keep the area moist, or damp, diligently for the first week. This will cause the seeds to sprout and the new lawn to take hold. Gradually over the next couple of weeks you will water more heavily and less frequently.

Watering in this fashion will encourage roots to develop at deeper layers in the soil as the grass searches for moisture. You’re essentially teaching the plant to dig deep for water instead of staying closer to the surface. Plants that receive water too frequently, and in too light of doses, will keep their roots close to the top of the soil…no need to dig deep for water when it’s readily available on top!

One tip for how to plant grass seed…

It bears mentioning that you should NOT spread fertilizer right before or right after spreading your grass seed. The seedlings are too young to handle the nutrients in the fertilizer.

The bag of grass seed should specify just how long you need to wait to spread any fertilizer.

One more tip…

I would recommend that you purchase grass seed locally as you will be able to purchase the grass seed that is most appropriate and reliable for your particular area.

If you purchase online, then you have to do further research about the different types of grass seed available. Local dealers, however, will always carry the seed that’s best suited for the area.

Some of my personal favorites are places like Farm and Fleet, Sam’s Club, Costco, Menards or any other shop where you can purchase a large amount of seed at a reasonable price.

Hardware stores can be too pricey and I try and avoid them.

I hope this information on how to plant grass seed has been helpful to you, and I hope you are all enjoying beautiful, sprawling, green lawns in no time!

By Colleen

I'm your average, everyday kind of gardener; I learned from trial and error and reading magazines; gardening for many years. ....Since I was about 23 and a first-time homeowner. I’m also a working mom with a wonderful husband. We keep busy with our yard and garden, and also the visits from our 6 grown children and other family and friends that we entertain on the weekends.

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