The advantages of planting grass from seed compared with installing sod are the lower initial cost and the feeling of accomplishment that comes from growing the lawn yourself. The disadvantage is that you have to wait longer to enjoy your lawn. With proper attention to preparing the soil, and making sure the seeds are kept moist after planting, your homegrown lawn can be just as beautiful as one that came from sod.
Prepare the soil. Dig down six inches with a shovel and thoroughly turn the soil. Use a garden fork to break up dirt clumps. Remove rocks you encounter, as well as broken tree roots or other debris that could make it difficult for the grass seed to develop a healthy root system.
Add nutrients. Boost the nutrient level of soil by adding compost. Add fertilizer with the three nutrients needed to grow healthy turf: nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous. Mix the compost and fertilizer with the existing soil well, so the result is loose, aerated soil.
Level the planting bed. Using a rake smooth out the planting bed in one direction, then rake across in the other direction until there are no uneven areas. Water collecting in these depressions can drown the grass seed.
Spread the seed. Use a push spreader rather than the hand sowing method. Spread in rows going across the bed in one direction, and then push the spreader across these rows, so the seed is spread evenly in a crisscross pattern.
Cover the seeds. Apply a thin layer of compost, 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch, over the seeds. Doing so will help the seed bed retain moisture.
Water the seeds. Moisture is essential for grass seed germination. Water for eight to 10 minutes three to four times per day. Keep an eye on the planting bed if hot, dry or windy weather persists. More frequent watering may be required. Maintain this daily watering schedule for three weeks.