How to Plant Grass in the Spring

Overview

Turf grasses need soil temperatures around 60 degrees Fahrenheit to germinate. In many climate zones, this occurs twice during the year: in spring as the ground warms and in fall when it cools. Warm-season grasses, such as hybrid Bermuda, St. Augustine, centipede and Zoysia grasses, grow most actively during the warmest months and are best planted in spring. You can also plant cool-season grasses in spring but they will be set back if the weather turns suddenly hot or dry.

Step 1

Cultivate your topsoil with a shovel and cultivator or rotary tiller in spring, when it has dried enough to crumble instead of clumping.

Step 2

Add 2 inches of well-rotted compost and manure and work it into the top 6 inches of the soil to make a bed of well-drained, friable loam.

Step 3

Level the area with a garden rake or a piece of 2-by-4 lumber dragged across the surface. Pick up rocks, weeds and root clumps as you go. Your lawn should slope gently away from buildings and toward drainage swales or storm sewers.

Step 4

Water well and let the graded soil settle for a few days.

Step 5

Choose a warm season grass seed or a cool season mixture that is appropriate for your area. Check with your local state university agricultural extension for help in choosing grass seed.

Step 6

Seed with a drop or broadcast spreader (check seed package instructions or ask your nursery professional for proper spreader settings) when the soil temperature reaches 60 degrees Fahrenheit. In general, seed warm-season grasses from 1/4 lb. to 2 lbs. per 1,000 square feet of lawn; cool-season seed mixtures spread at between 1 1/2 lbs. to 2 lbs. per 1,000 square feet. Walk one way up and down the area to drop half of the seed, then walk again across the area for maximum coverage.

Step 7

Cover the grass seed slightly by working a broom rake or your garden rake lightly around the soil surface. If nights are still very cool, mulch the seed with 1 inch of Canadian sphagnum peat moss or marsh hay.

Step 8

Water the settled seed well and keep the ground moist by watering lightly each morning until seedlings begin to develop several blades.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not fertilize newly sprouted grass. Compost and manure provide enough slow-release nitrogen to give grass a good start. Begin fertilizing warm- and cool season-grasses next spring.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Cultivator or rotary tiller
  • Compost
  • Manure
  • Garden rake
  • Thermometer
  • Grass seed applicator
  • Broom rake
  • Canadian sphagnum peat moss or marsh hay

References

  • North Carolina State Agriculture: Lawn & Garden Tips
  • Michigan Department of Natural Resources: Grass Planting
  • Texas A&M University: St. Augustine Grass

Who Can Help

  • Ampac Seed Company: Seven Steps to A Perfect New Lawn
  • Iowa State University Extension: Spring Lawn Care
Keywords: plant grass, spring grass planting, warm season grasses, cool season grasses

About this Author

Chicago native Laura Reynolds has been writing for 40 years. She attended American University (D.C.), Northern Illinois University and University of Illinois Chicago and has a B.S. in communications (theater). Originally a secondary school communications and history teacher, she's written one book and edited several others. She has 30 years of experience as a local official, including service as a municipal judge.