How to Prepare Soil for Lawn Seeding


Although you can grow a new lawn from laying sod or inserting plugs of grass sprigs, seeding remains a more economical method of growing grass. A successfully seeded lawn starts with the appropriate preparation of the seed bed. Provide the seeds with the growing environment they need for fast, vigorous growth to form a lush, green yard.

Step 1

Spray the seeding area with a systemic glyphosate-based herbicide. This ensures complete removal of any vegetation that may compete with the lawn seed. After the existing vegetation has died, dig it out.

Step 2

Break up the soil to a depth of 6 to 8 inches with a spade or rototiller. Work the soil until it has a fine particle consistency. Large clumps of dirt will impede lawn seed germination.

Step 3

Test the soil pH with a testing kit available from some garden stores. For optimal lawn seed establishment, the pH should be slightly acidic and between 6.0 and 7.0. Contact your regional cooperative extension office to find what pH-adjusting amendments--such as lime, sulfates and phosphates--are used in your area to raise or lower the pH.

Step 4

Mix 4 inches of compost, peat moss or aged manure into the top 6 inches of the soil. This ensures proper moisture retention and aeration, and helps improve the drainage of poor soils such as clay dirt.

Step 5

Fertilize the seed bed with a seed-starter fertilizer. Use approximately 7 pounds of a 16-22-8 lawn fertilizer for every 50 square feet of lawn. Mix this fertilizer into the top 4 inches of dirt.

Things You'll Need

  • Herbicide
  • Spade or rototiller
  • Soil pH testing kit
  • Soil pH amendments
  • Compost
  • Fertilizer


  • "The Lawn Bible"; David Mellor; 2003
  • University of Illinois: Lawn Site Preparation
  • University of Arizona: Preparation for Planting Turf
  • Purdue University: Seedbed Preparation

Who Can Help

  • USDA: Find a Cooperative Extension Office
Keywords: lawn seeding preparation, preparing lawn bedding, lawn seed site

About this Author

Josh Duvauchelle is an editor and journalist with more than 10 years' experience. His work has appeared in various magazines, including "Honolulu Magazine," which has more paid subscribers than any other magazine in Hawaii. He graduated with honors from Trinity Western University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in professional communications, and earned a certificate in applied leadership and public affairs from the Laurentian Leadership Centre.