Site preparation is the most important part of seeding for a new lawn. Once the lawn is established, you will never again have the opportunity to amend the soil, remove debris or level the ground without digging up at least part of the lawn. Finding the right kind of seed for your location and climate is important, also, as is purchasing a high-quality seed, which may save you time and money in the long run. If everything is done right in the beginning, you will have years of a beautiful lush lawn.
Apply Round-Up herbicide to any weedy areas of the soil that is to be seeded. Follow manufacturer's directions on amount to use. Let the weeds die for up to two weeks.
Test the soil for a pH level. It should be between 6.0 and 7.0. To bring the pH up add 50 lbs. of limestone per 1,000 square feet. If you need to bring the pH down, use powdered sulfur. Water the additives into the soil well.
Level the area by adding to low spots and leveling out high areas. You don't want areas that will hold the water in a puddle or have it drain off too quickly. Both of these conditions can cause problems with your grass later.
Till the entire area to a depth of about 5 inches. If your soil is heavy and doesn't drain well or is sandy and drains too fast, add 4 to 5 inches of a top soil and compost mix before tilling. This will improve the condition of the soil for a successful lawn now with germination and later with proper drainage.
Rake out the soil to remove any debris or stones and to break up any clumps. Apply a nitrogen lawn fertilizer at a rate of 2 lbs. per 1,000 square feet. Water and allow the soil to settle for a week.
Rake the area again in one direction, leaving slight ruts for the seed. Apply the seed with a broadcast spreader, following manufacturer's direction as to amount. Spread half the seed going north to south and then repeat with the other half going east to west. This will ensure a more even coverage.
Lightly rake the sown seed at a right angle to cover with a little soil. Then go over the lawn with a lawn roller to compact it into the soil. The seed will not germinate without making good contact with the soil.
Cover the area with clean straw to keep the seed from shifting and to keep birds from eating it while it is germinating.
Water well and keep moist until it is completely germinated. You will need to water twice a day for at least two weeks. Then water every other day for at least a month. You can mow the lawn when it reaches 2 1/2 to 3 inches tall, taking no more than one-third of its height.