How to Germinate Lawn Seed


Grass seed needs the proper care in order to germinate quickly and effectively. It is not as easy as dropping grass seed on a spot and waiting for it to grow. You need to prepare the site, add nutrients and care for the seed until it germinates. It's best to plant grass seed in the spring or fall. Once summer hits, it's too hot to germinate grass seed. Many of the seeds will die off because of a lack of moisture.

Step 1

Pick up debris such as stones and branches. The surface needs to be as clean as possible for the lawn seed to germinate. If there are clumps of dirt that are larger than 1 inch in size, break them up.

Step 2

Pull weeds out by the roots. Use an herbicide if the job is too big to handle. Apply the weed killer several weeks before you want the seed to germinate. If you apply it too close to planting the grass seed, you'll kill it. Use the manufacturer's instructions for application guidelines.

Step 3

Till the top of the soil to add air pockets. This will help the seed germinate faster. Loosen at least the top 4 inches. Fill in dips with topsoil to make the planting surface level.

Step 4

Make the soil more fertile with the addition of sand and compost. Spread 1 inch of each substance. Combine them well with the ground.

Step 5

Spread a fertilizer that contains a lot of phosphorus. There are also starter blends that work well in promoting germination. Use the instructions on the bag or box to figure out the rate to set the broadcast spreader.

Step 6

Fill a hand or mechanical spreader with grass seed. Use about 8 to 10 lbs. per 1,000 square feet for a thick lawn. The amount of seed may vary depending on the grass type. Look on the seed bag for specific application amounts.

Step 7

Cover the grass seed with 1/8 inch of soil to encourage germination and keep the seed in place. Use the back of the metal rake to move the soil on top of the seed.

Step 8

Water the grass seed to get it to sprout. Water it twice daily for 5- to 10-minute intervals. Once 10 days have passed, reduce watering to once a day for 15 to 30 minutes.

Tips and Warnings

  • Avoid walking on grass until it has time to germinate and become established. Try not to water grass seed in the evening because of an increased risk of fungal disease.

Things You'll Need

  • Rototiller
  • Rake
  • Soil
  • Sand
  • Compost
  • Fertilizer
  • Broadcast spreader
  • Mechanical or hand spreader
  • Sprinkler
  • Water


  • Organic Approach: Guide for New Lawns
  • Spring Green: Lawn Seeding Tips
  • This Old House: How to Seed a Lawn
Keywords: germinate lawn seed, grow grass, plant grass seed

About this Author

Kelly Shetsky has been a broadcast journalist for more than 10 years, researching, writing, producing and reporting daily on many topics. In addition, she writes for several websites, specializing in medical, health and fitness, arts and entertainment, travel and business. Shetsky has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Marist College.