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How to Grow Grass on Hard Dirt & Rocks

cracked soil image by Ana de Sousa from

If your yard is a lumpy mess of hard dirt and rocks, you may think that having a healthy, lush lawn will be an unachievable task. While it is true that your soil is an inhospitable environment for grass in its current state, a luxurious green lawn is not out of reach. There will be a lot of work ahead of you, but with careful preparation, your lawn will look just as great as the one down the street growing on rich, loamy soil.

Pick up all the rocks from the surface of your soil. Load them in a wheelbarrow and dispose of them where appropriate.

Rototill the soil down to a depth of 4 to 6 inches. Spread 1 to 2 inches of peat moss or compost across the soil and till it in to a depth of 4 to 6 inches.

Rake the soil with your garden rake to remove any tilled-up debris and to even out the soil.

Push a lawn roller filled with water across your newly tilled planting area to firm up the ground.

Fill your broadcast spreader with your selected grass seed. Set the dial on the spreader at the bag's indicated rate (usually 6 to 10 lbs. per 1000 square feet).

Walk back and forth over your seedbed and spread the grass seed. Rake the seed into the top 1/4 inch of soil and roll with an empty lawn roller to press the seed into the soil.

Set up your sprinklers and water the lawn two or three times each day for five to 15 minutes at a time. Adjust the watering schedule as necessary to keep the soil moist, but not soggy.

Mow your grass when it reaches 3 inches in height. Mow to 2 inches. Continue mowing every four to seven days to a height of 2 to 3 inches.

Cut back on watering after the first mowing. Provide 1 inch of water per week over the lawn. Apply the water in one or two watering sessions.


Core aerate your lawn in the fall to keep it from becoming compacted. A compacted lawn will become sparse and unhealthy looking.

Plant your lawn in the late summer or early fall. During this time the sun is still warm but not hot, and the soil is at its warmest temperature of the summer. This significantly helps with germination times and rates.

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