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Grass Seed Planting in the Fall

By Emma Watkins
Soil preparation is crucial for a thriving lawn.
Jeff Randall/Lifesize/Getty Images

Early fall when the temperature has cooled, but is still warm outside, is an ideal time to seed a lawn. The plethora of summer weeds are on their way out, posing little to no competition to your grass seedlings. Besides, early autumn’s mild weather requires less water to keep the seeds hydrated for germination and the seedlings thriving. Prepare the soil for your new lawn and broadcast the seeds by the beginning of October.

Remove all vegetation and debris from the seedbed. Collect a soil sample and submit it to your cooperative extension office for a nutrient and pH analysis. Contact the staff to find out the procedure they want you to follow to gather the sample. The lab report identifies what nutrients and amendments your soil needs to support your new lawn. Not only do you get a list of what’s necessary, but also of how much to apply of each item.

Till the area to a depth of 6 inches and incorporate the fertilizer and amendments recommended in your soil test report. Spread a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost, manure or other organic matter over the bed and work it into the ground to improve air and water circulation.

Rake the soil surface to smooth it out. Run a lawn roller over it to firm the planting bed.

Fill a seed spreader with half the seeds you need to broadcast. Sow it back and forth in one direction. Broadcast the second half of the grass seeds by walking perpendicularly to the first route you took. If you first moved in a west-east direction, walk from southwest to northeast the second time.

Rake the seeds gently to cover some of them lightly with soil. Run a lawn roller over the seeded area to push the seeds into the soil surface for adequate contact.

Water the seedbed to a depth of 4 to 6 inches at planting. Allow the area to dry slightly before watering it again. Turn the water off when puddles appear. Let the soil surface dry somewhat before irrigating the seeds again. Stop the water as soon as you seed puddles. Keep repeating this step until germination.


Things You Will Need

  • Hoe
  • Shovel
  • Pickax
  • Rototiller
  • Compost
  • Rake
  • Lawn roller
  • Seed spreader

About the Author


Emma Watkins writes on finance, fitness and gardening. Her articles and essays have appeared in "Writer's Digest," "The Writer," "From House to Home," "Big Apple Parent" and other online and print venues. Watkins holds a Master of Arts in psychology.