The pristine lawn of your neighbor did not get that way without a lot of hard work and preparation. Getting you and your lawn on a regular maintenance schedule does more for a healthy green lawn than any one single step. Choosing the right seed for your climate, properly preparing the soil, fertilizing and using weed control on a regular schedule and keeping the lawn mowed all combine to eliminate weeds and allow grass to thrive.
Prepare, grade and fertilize the soil. Whether you are working on a patch or replacing a whole lawn, what you start with will greatly determine what you wind up with. Test the soil and then fertilize to adjust its pH level as necessary (6.0-7.5). Rotary till the lawn and remove all rocks and roots, and grade the area to level where possible. Avoiding bumps and gullies will help with drainage and overall lawn health.
Start weed free. Remove any existing weeds manually, chemically or organically. Applying a pre-emergence herbicide can help stimulate lawn growth and control weed growth in your lawn. Unless you are attempting a patch, you should also remove existing grasses. Your new grass will fare better if it is all of the same seed type.
Choose the appropriate native grass seeds. Consult a zoning chart to determine what breed of seed will grow best in your climate zone. It will also help you understand the growing schedule for your grass and the weeds in your area to help one thrive and the other perish. Seed types also depend on whether you are planting in sun or shade.
Plant in season. Although grass patches can be worked on throughout a growing season, by consulting a climate zoning chart and planting at the best possible time, you ensure rapid growth and cut down on evaporation or flooding worries.
Rake the soil. Loosening the soil allows proper seed-to-soil contact and aids in the seeds' germination.
Spread the seed evenly. For small areas, you can easily spread it by hand. For larger areas, use a handheld seeder, and for still larger areas, use a spreader. Use a plastic rake to work the seeds into the soil.
Water immediately and keep the seeds moist. This likely will require watering two or three times daily until the seeds have rooted. It is important to water lightly so that you do not puddle the lawn and wash away the seeds.
Schedule regular fertilization. Getting your lawn on a schedule helps prevent weeds before they grow. Give the grass on your lawn the strongest roots by fertilizing and using weed killer before the weeds can become established.