Sowing grass seed to establish a lawn gives you the greatest control over what grass you have in your lawn. Spring is the second best time to seed the lawn, says Sandra Mason, unit educator with the University of Illinois Extension. Seeding during the spring means the grass seed will have to compete with annual weeds for rooting and resources. With the correct practice and preparation, seeding in the spring will likely succeed with a little patience.
Till the top layer of the lawn to break up soil clumps and destroy plant roots that may exist in the lawn. The Garden Counselor recommends adding a thin layer of compost to the lawn at this time, around 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch to aid moisture retention for seed germination. Smooth out the dirt with a rake so that the planting surface is level.
Choose high quality seed for the lawn. The University of Illinois Extension recommends a seed purity of 90 to 95 percent with a high germination rate. Inspect the label of the seed for the success rate of the seed.
Spread the seed at 4 lbs. of seed per 1,000 square feet of lawn and gently rake over the seed to cover it in soil, recommends the Garden Helper. Cover the lawn with 1/4 of an inch of straw to protect the seeds from birds and intense heat.
Water the seed so that the soil gets 1 inch of water per week, recommends the Michigan State University Extension. Sprinkle the seed with a small amount of water several times daily to keep it cool.
Remove half the straw once the grass is at about 2 inches in height, says the Michigan State University Extension, and begin mowing once the grass is at 2 1/2 to 3 inches.