Growing grass seed is the least expensive way to start a new lawn, although it takes more time and effort than putting down sod. The most important step is to prepare the soil before sowing the seeds. You can begin a new lawn by planting it at any time during the growing season, but you will achieve the best results if you start growing new grass seed in autumn.
Turn over the soil with a rototiller. Set the tines of the rototiller at the deepest level possible. Till the planting area by walking in straight lines, slightly overlapping each row to ensure that all of the soil is turned over. Rake the soil smooth when finished.
Add soil improvements. Spread a 1-inch layer each of peat moss, compost and sand on the surface of the soil.
Till again with the rototiller to incorporate the soil improvements, walking perpendicular to the direction you walked when tilling the first time. Rake the soil smooth.
Set the drop spreader to the rate recommended by the manufacturer. Fill with half the amount of seed recommended by the manufacturer according to the square footage of your lawn. Spread the grass seed on the lawn by pushing the spreader. Walk the length of the lawn in rows, slightly overlapping each pass to ensure that no areas are unseeded.
Make a second pass with the drop spreader to apply the second half of the seed. Walk in rows that are at right angles, or perpendicular, to the direction you walked during the first pass.
Use an empty lawn roller to firm the surface of the soil and press the grass seed into it. Push the roller in front of you as you walk the same grid you walked when applying the grass seed. Walk first in one direction and then in a perpendicular direction.
Water the newly seeded lawn thoroughly. Use a fine mist from a hose end sprayer. Water only until the surface of the soil is moist.
Keep the newly seeded lawn moist but not wet until seeds germinate in 7 to 14 days. Water only as needed with a fine mist; do not let puddles form on the soil.
Let the new grass grow to at least 2½- to 3-inches high before mowing. Use a newly sharpened lawn mower and set it to about 2-inches high. A sharp mower ensures a clean cut that will not pull the new grass out of the ground.
Feed the lawn with a water-soluble high nitrogen fertilizer after the first mowing. Use the type of fertilizer that is mixed with water and sprayed on the lawn with a hose end sprayer. Follow the directions of the manufacturer of the fertilizer for application rates. Thereafter, apply granulated fertilizer specially formulated for grass seed using your drop spreader once in spring and again in late summer.
Water the newly seeded lawn the equivalent of 1- to 2-inches of rainfall per week so it fills in and stays green and lush.