Lawn Seeding: How & When to Plant Grass Seeds Guide

Here is a quick step-by-step summary of planting grass seeds.

  1. Get grass seeds that are adapted to your region’s climate and soil type.
  2. Prepare the soil by removing debris and breaking up soil clumps.
  3. Spread the grass seeds evenly across the lawn bed.
  4. Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil.
  5. Water the soil bed lightly to enhance germination.

Section 1: How to Plant Grass Seeds

Growing a healthy, green lawn is not as simple as dumping a bunch of grass seeds onto your garden bed. It takes a considerable amount of effort and time, especially in the initial planting phase, to grow and maintain a green lawn that will last the whole season. In this article, you will learn the step-by-step process of planting grass seeds. We will also be addressing other common questions such as when to plant grass seeds, when to water them, and what types of grass you should plant in your lawn.

Step 1: Buying Grass Seeds
The first step is to purchase the grass seeds. Did you know there are over thousands of grass species that exist in the world today? Knowing which type works best for your region’s climate and soil type is essential to growing a healthy lawn. Generally speaking, lawn grasses are classified into two groups: cool-season and warm-season. You can learn more about picking the right grass seeds by referring to section 3 of this article.

Step 2: Preparing the Soil
It’s time to prepare the soil once you have purchased your grass seeds. In order for the grass to grow, it’s important to prepare the garden bed so that there isn’t any form of obstacles that would prevent it from absorbing water and important minerals. To do so, first use a garden aerator or a tiller to break apart any clumps of soil. The idea here is to make it as easy as possible for the grass roots to penetrate the soil. The act of aerating the soil can be done both manually and via an electronic device. Soil tilling can be backbreaking work so if you are dealing with a medium to large-sized lawn bed then we would highly recommend you invest in an electronic soil tiller. Ideally, you should be loosening the top four to six inches of soil. Four inches is considered to be the minimum soil depth to grow high-quality lawns.

While you are digging away, don’t forget to also get rid of debris in the ground like rocks, logs, plastic, and other materials that will get in the way of the grass roots.

NPK Ratio for Lawn Grass Fertilizer

Another important step to soil preparation is to check the pH and nutrient level of the soil. First, make sure the pH of the soil is at a suitable range for turfgrass. According to the University of Missouri Extension, the optimal pH range for turfgrass is between 6.0 and 7.5. A pH test can be conducted by using a basic soil test kit. Depending on the type of grass you grow, it is also important to have the right balance of nutrients in the soil. For turfgrass, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are considered the primary nutrients and must be supplied regularly to the turfgrass. Other notable nutrients include iron, manganese, magnesium, and calcium. As you learn more about soil fertilizers, you will come across a term called the N-P-K ratio, which refers to the percentage of available nutrients contained in the soil fertilizer. The ideal ratio is going to differ based on the type of grass you grow and the current condition of your soil.

Step 3: Planting the Seeds

It’s time to plant the grass seeds once the soil is ready. There are number of methods to planting the grass seeds. You could broadcast the seeds using a seed spreader, or simply use your hands to spread the grass seeds as evenly as possible. An application of around 16 seeds per square inch is considered optimal for growing lawn grass. Anything more would cause the seedlings to fight one another for nutrients and water and the resulting grass would end up appearing weak and thin. If you plan on using a spreader then keep in mind that there are different types.

The most common types of spreaders are referred to as drop and broadcast spreaders. Drop spreaders are typically mounted on two-wheels and release the seeds directly underneath the bucket. Broadcast spreaders, on the other hand, work better on larger-sized lawns and operate by spreading the seeds across all directions. When you are done sowing the seeds, cover the surface with about 1/4 inch of soil. Don’t go any greater as the seeds require an adequate amount of light to germinate quickly.

Step 4: Watering the Seeds

Congrats. At this stage you are done with the laborious part of growing your lawn. From here onward, it’s important to keep the grass seedlings moist. The amount of water and the frequency of watering will depend on a number of factors such as your region’s climate, and the type of grass you are planting. For obvious reasons, if you live in an area that receives a lot of rainwater then the amount of times you would need to water the lawn would be less frequent. Regarding grass types, some grass species are more drought-tolerant than others. For example, the amount of water Zoysia grass requires is almost half the amount of what cool-season grasses typically requires.

The information below provides a quick summary on the amount of water required for common grass types like Zoysia, Bluegrass, Perennial Ryegrass, and Bermudagrass.

Zoysia grass
Amount of Water: 1/2 inch of water per week

Kentucky Bluegrass
Amount of water: 2 inches of water per week

Perennial Ryegrass
Amount of water: 1.5 inches of water per week

Bermudagrass
Amount of water: 1/2 inch of water per week

Buffalograss
Amount of water: 1/3 inch of water per week

The University of Missouri Extension provides more information on the water requirements for specific grass species. Once you have the optimal volume and frequency figured out, keep to that watering schedule, and eventually you should see a healthy green lawn appear in your yard.

Section 2: When to Plant Grass Seeds

One common question we get around grass seeds is the most optimal time to plant them. Again, this goes back to the type of grass seeds you are planting. For example, if you are growing cool-season grass species like Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and tall fescue then the optimal planting time is considered to be sometime in the early fall. If you are growing warm-season grasses like Bermudagrass, St. Augustine grass, and Bahiagrass then the optimal planting time is considered to be in late spring. If you live in the transition zone then that’s a slightly different story.

Section 3: Picking the Right Grass Seeds

As we referenced a number of times in this article, it’s important to pick grass seeds that are best-suited for your region’s climate and soil type. If you are based in the US or Canada then there are three groups to be aware of: cool-season, warm-season, and transition zone. As the name implies, cool-season grasses thrive in the northern regions, where the temperature is cooler. The main growing period for cool-season grasses is in the early fall when soil temperatures can range from around 50 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

Warm-season grasses thrive in the Southern regions. The main growing period for warm-season grasses start in late spring when soil temperature can range from 70 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Several warm-season grasses have drought-tolerant properties, which can be useful if you live in an area that doesn’t get a lot of rainwater.

The area in-between cool-season and warm-season is referred to as the transition zone. In this area, you can grow certain species of warm-season and cool-season grasses. Typically, people have greater success with cool-season grasses in the transition zone.

As you can see, there’s a lot of research involved to picking the right grass seed. Make sure you do your due diligence and pick a type of grass that will serve you well over the course of the year.