How to Prepare the Ground for New Grass Seed


Whether you have a new home with a bare front yard to fill or you just want a fresh start on your existing lawn, grass seed can spruce up your yard. You could dump seed on your lawn and hope for the best, but for assured results, it's better to give your grass seed a good foundation. Preparing your lawn will give your grass the best chance to become established and grow healthy while minimizing the competition with weeds.

Soil Test

Step 1

Dig 1 tsp. of dirt from the surface of your soil with a trowel. Place this sample in a plastic sandwich bag with a zipper closure.

Step 2

Dig down 3 inches in the same location with your trowel. Take 1 tsp. of dirt and add it to the bag. Close the bag.

Step 3

Mark your bag with the location of your soil sample in your lawn by writing the coordinates on the outside with a marker.

Step 4

Repeat this process for at least two more locations on your lawn.

Step 5

Take your soil samples to your local land grant college's county extension office, farmer's cooperative, agency of the USDA or private laboratory for a soil analysis. A soil analysis will indicate the soil's pH as well as the nutrient content of the soil. This will help you determine what minerals should be added to the soil as well as what amendments to balance the pH so that your grass will grow healthy.

Preparing the Soil

Step 1

Break up the soil to a depth of 8 inches using a rototiller, yard tractor with a cultivating attachment or garden spade.

Step 2

Choose soil amendments based on the indicators given during your soil analysis. Typical soil amendments that your yard might require include compost or fertilizer to add nutrients to the soil, sulfur to make your soil more acidic or limestone to make your soil more alkaline.

Step 3

Distribute soil amendments over the top of your soil with a shovel and rake. Amendments should cover the top of soil to a depth of 2 inches.

Step 4

Stir amendments into the soil to a depth of 4 inches using a cultivator, rototiller or rake and garden hoe.

Step 5

Water the soil so that the amendments soak into the soil completely.

Step 6

Wait two to four days before seeding the soil with grass.

Things You'll Need

  • Trowel
  • Sandwich bags with zipper closures
  • Marker
  • Garden spade, rototiller or lawn tractor with a cultivating attachment
  • Rake
  • Hoe
  • Shovel
  • Spade
  • Garden hose
  • Finished compost
  • Fertilizer
  • Sulfur
  • Powdered limestone


  • The Garden Helper: How to Test and Adjust your Soil pH
  • The Landscape Design Site: How To Test And Adjust Soil pH
  • The Garden Helper: How to plant, grow and care for a new lawn

Who Can Help

  • All about Lawns:Careful Calendaring: When to Plant Grass Seed
Keywords: soil testing, seeding grass, amending dirt

About this Author

After 10 years experience in writing, Tracy S. Morris has countless articles and two novels to her credit. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets" and "CatFancy," as well as the "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World," and several websites.