How to Grow Grass Seed Successfully


As the cost of lawn services rise, more homeowners are deciding to grow their own lawns. In addition to giving owners bragging rights, a successful stand of turf grass may be more attractive because it is composed of seed that is right for the specific conditions of the lawn where it grows. The right seed will grow into a weed-free lawn. The way to a weed-free lawn is healthy turf and the keys to healthy turf are good preparation, plenty of moisture and frequent mowing.


Step 1

Cultivate soil deeply in the fall or in the spring after the ground has warmed to at least 60 degrees. Fall planting allows better root development.

Step 2

Destroy weeds in the topsoil by removing or treating with a general broadleaf weed killer. "Solarize" topsoil of dubious cleanliness by watering and covering the area with black plastic sheeting and leaving it covered for a week or two to "cook" any weed seed.

Step 3

Add starter fertilizer and compost mixed with well-rotted manure or peat moss as a natural source of nitrogen and to improve the "friability" of the topsoil. Remove stones and till soil into pea-sized clumps.

Step 4

Level the soil so there are no depressions. The level or "grade" of the yard should gently "fall" away from buildings toward storm sewers or swales that collect storm water runoff.

Seed Growth

Step 1

Seed with a spreader or by hand, at the rate (usually expressed as number of pounds per 1,000 square feet) noted on the package. Use fresh seed that is appropriate for your growing area. Spread half the seed in one direction and spread the second half perpendicular to (across) the first rows.

Step 2

Roll grass seed into the soil so it is just barely covered. Water the seeded lawn thoroughly.

Step 3

Water when the soil is dry early each morning and keep the seedbed moist. Make sure that new grass gets an inch of water each week, including any rainfall.

Tips and Warnings

  • Seeding too late in the spring exposes germinating seed and new grass to dehydrating heat and strong summer sun. Seed sown during winter will germinate in the spring. Seed cast during cold weather or when the ground is cold will not begin germination until the ground reaches 60 degrees.

Things You'll Need

  • Grass seed
  • Compost and manure or peat moss
  • Rotary tiller
  • Shovel and lawn rake
  • Seed and fertilizer spreader
  • Lawn roller


  • University of Illinois Cooperative Extension: Lawn Talk
  • University of California Guide to Healthy Lawns: Establishing a Lawn From Seed

Who Can Help

  • University of California Guide to Healthy Lawns: Grass Seed Germination Times
  • Seed Source: Planting Tips for Native Grasses
  • Seedland: Links to State and County Cooperative Extension Offices
Keywords: grow grass, grass seed, successful lawns, turf grass

About this Author

Chicago native Laura Reynolds has been writing for 40 years. She attended American University (D.C.), Northern Illinois University and University of Illinois Chicago and has a B.S. in communications (theater). Originally a secondary school communications and history teacher, she's written one book and edited several others. She has 30 years of experience as a local official, including service as a municipal judge.