How to Plant & Grow a Lawn

Overview

Newly built houses and areas that haven't previously had lawns require some preparation before the lawn can be seeded. The type of grass seed you will use will depend on where you live and the type of lawn you want to grow. Common grasses include Bermuda grass, fescues, rye grasses, bluegrass and bent grass. If you use a commercial seed product, it may contain several different types of grass.

Step 1

Remove any hard objects, like stones, rocks and paving stones from the area you would like to plant the lawn. You may need to dig out larger stones with a shovel.

Step 2

Dig any weeds out of the soil. You may need to use a weed fork, a long-handled tool designed to dig a foot or two down to remove deep weed taproots.

Step 3

Remove any bushes and trees that you do not want to be in your lawn. Dig down and remove the roots to reduce the probability of the tree or bush regrowing in the same place.

Step 4

Rent a sod removal machine to strip off a uniform layer of topsoil and vegetation if an old lawn or natural grasses are growing where you want to seed your new lawn. A sod removal machine digs down a uniform distance and cuts the sides of patches of sod to remove grass and roots at the same time. If you can't find one to rent, you will have to dig out the existing grass by hand.

Step 5

Use a roto-tiler to till and prepare the top 6 to 8 inches of soil. If you don't have a roto-tiller, you may be able to rent one. If you can't find one to rent, dig down 6 to 8 inches with a shovel and turn the soil. Break up clumps in the soil with a hoe until the largest clump in your soil is about the size of a pea. In some soils, you may need to break up larger clumps by crumbling them with your hands.

Step 6

Pick any newly exposed rock and roots out of the soil.

Step 7

Add any soil augmentation your soil needs. In some cases, you may not need augmentation. However, you may need to add sand to encourage drainage or compost to add organic material. If possible, have your soil tested by your county agricultural extension after tilling. Tell the representative what type of seed you are planning to plant for specific advice. Although you can likely seed on most soils or use a garden center test kit, the advice of the agricultural extensions on specific requirements for your area can be valuable. Garden center test kits are not as complete as a county agricultural extension lab test, but can give you a good idea of what your soil may need.

Step 8

Till the soil again to mix the soil augmentation with the base soil and allow the soil to sit for a couple of months.

Step 9

Seed when air temperatures will not fall below 55 degrees F or be warmer than 80 degrees F. Seed your lawn at the recommended density using a grass seeder; grass seed needs to be between 1/8- and 1/4-inch deep, depending on the type.

Step 10

Mulch your newly planted lawn with one bale of straw per 1,000 square feet of lawn to help the soil retain moisture.

Step 11

Water your lawn with several inches of water. Make sure the soil does not dry out until the grass seed has germinated.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Hoe
  • Weed fork
  • Sod removal machine (optional)
  • Roto-tiller
  • Soil augmentation (optional)
  • Grass seed
  • Grass seeder
  • Hay

References

  • Lawn & Mower: Preparing the Soil for a New Lawn
  • Grassing: Methods for Planting Seed
  • University of Illinois: Planting a New Lawn
  • Plant Care: Planting Grass Seeds
Keywords: lawn seeding, new lawns, lawn cultivation

About this Author

Although he grew up in Latin America, Mr. Ma is a writer based in Denver. He has been writing since 1987 and has written for NPR, AP, Boeing, Ford New Holland, Microsoft, RAHCO International, Umax Data Systems and other manufacturers in Taiwan. He studied creative writing at Mankato State University in Minnesota. He speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, English and reads Spanish.