How to Grow Grass From Scratch


Thorough preparation and high-quality seeds are the primary factors in growing a lush green lawn. You must decide the way you want to use your lawn and how much maintenance you're willing to do. As the old adage goes, anything worth doing is worth doing right.

Step 1

Perform a soil test to determine what fertilizers need to be added to the soil for nourishment.

Step 2

Till the soil to a 4- to 6-inch depth. Incorporate fertilizer and 2 to 3 inches of organic matter like peat moss or decayed leaves as you work.

Step 3

Smooth the site with a rake. A roller at this point works well to recognize high and low spots.

Step 4

Apply a commercial turf starter, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 5

Fill a drop spreader with half of your grass seed and sow them in one direction. Place the remaining seeds in the spreader and sow them in the opposite direction. Rake the seeds gently to cover with 1/4 inch of soil to keep the seeds in place.

Step 6

Mulch your site using one bale of hay or straw per 1,000 square feet to retain moisture and prevent erosion. The mulch should be spread thin, exposing half the soil beneath it. Roll the entire site.

Step 7

Water the site thoroughly so that it is moist, not wet, to a depth of at least 1/2 inch at all times, until the lawn seed germinates and your seedlings are well established.

Tips and Warnings

  • The hay or straw you apply as mulch does not need to be removed once the lawn is established. Do not mow the lawn until it is twice as tall as the mowing height you have selected. Tender grass seedlings can die in as little as two to three hours if they get too dry.

Things You'll Need

  • Soil test kit Fertilizer Organic matter Rototiller Turf starter Organic matter Rake Roller (optional) Drop spreader Weed-free hay or straw


  • Iowa State University Extension: Establishing a Lawn From Scratch
  • North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension Service: Seeding a New Lawn
  • Purdue University Extension: Purchasing Quality Grass Seed

Who Can Help

  • North Carolina Agriculture: Establishing a New Lawn
  • University of Illinois Extension: Seeding and Sodding Lawns
Keywords: lawns from scratch, establishing new lawns, grass from scratch

About this Author

Linda Marie was first published in 1969 while a feature news writer for the "Selfridge Flyer". She has held positions in broadcast copywriting, trade magazine publications, retail advertising and medical marketing. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Oakland University, Rochester, Mich.