Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map!

How to Get Grass Seed to Grow Beside a New Concrete Foundation

By James Young ; Updated September 21, 2017
New foundations challenge even the toughest new lawns.
old foundation image by Dennis Carrigan from Fotolia.com

Bare ground or dead sod beside a new foundation is a common problem. The grass may flourish everywhere else in the yard, but that strip along the foundation wall may always struggle. Gradually, weeds replace the sod and the end result could be a bare strip of dusty or muddy dirt. The causes of this lawn problem exist both above and below the ground. Nurtured to maturity, grasses may claim that territory again.

Select the correct variety of grass. Many grasses prefer full sun while others prosper in shady conditions. The shady north side of a house creates lighting problems and trees may add to the trouble. The south side of the house receives more sunlight and may require a different grass type better adapted to heat and drought.

Correct shade problems if possible. Thin out overhanging tree branches with a limb lopper or pole saw to get more sunlight to a densely shaded location.

Turn a sample shovelful of dirt from the problem area and take a close look. Fill dirt or subsoil may be the top layer of the disturbed ground near a new foundation. Work topsoil into the upper layer to improve soil quality.

Locate foundation footing problems--the wider concrete section upon which the foundation wall rests--by digging a test hole one foot deep beside the foundation wall. Deep footings cause few problems for grass, but, in warm climates, the soil layer above the footing could be only inches deep. Irrigate to correct dry soil or cut back irrigation to correct muddy conditions if a shallow footing causes trouble.

Scatter grass seed over the bare patch of soil and cover with straw mulch only one inch deep. Grass seed normally sprouts on the surface of the ground below a debris layer where light levels are low and moisture is constant. Mulch provides perfect conditions.

Water lightly at least twice a week. Check the ground with a fingertip to make sure moisture penetrates the soil two to three inches without making the area constantly muddy. Overhanging eaves could cause dry conditions along the wall even in wet weather. Water less often as grass matures and fills in the problem zone.


Things You Will Need

  • Garden spade
  • Grass seed
  • Straw mulch
  • Topsoil
  • Lawn sprinklers
  • Limb lopper
  • Pruning saw


  • Wide and irregularly shaped patches of bare ground near a foundation could mean the builders left more footing than intended. Shallow layers of excess concrete may have been spilled on the ground and hidden with dirt.


  • Use caution when irrigating near a new foundation. Too much water could create problems under the house as well as contributing to settling beneath the foundation. Soil only needs to be moist to encourage new grass.
  • Let grass grow taller near the foundation wall. Cutting the grass short where conditions are marginal quickly kills the plants. When sod fully matures and matches the density of the yard, gradually cut the grass back to three inches tall.

About the Author


James Young began writing in 1969 as a military journalist combat correspondent in Vietnam. Young's articles have been published in "Tai Chi Magazine," "Seattle Post-Intelligencer," Sonar 4 ezine, "Stars & Stripes" and "Fine Woodworking." He has worked as a foundryman, woodturner, electronics technician, herb farmer and woodcarver. Young graduated from North Seattle Community College with an associate degree in applied science and electronic technology.