15 Quick Steps to Plant Grass Seed on an Existing Lawn

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“A healthy lawn increases property values, controls soil erosion, filters pollution from runoff water, moderates summer ground temperatures, and adds oxygen to the air.”

Lawn maintenance requires an investment of time, efforts, and resources, and believe me, it is a labor-intensive job. But if you know how to get the job done right, it becomes much easier and result-oriented.

If you have a lawn and you are looking to renovate it, you have landed on the right page. The renovation of your lawn can be done in three different ways. The first method is called the complete renovation that includes killing the yard as a whole and growing new grass. The second one is overseeding, which means growing new seeds on an existing lawn, and the last one is repairing bare spots.

Overseeding will help you to achieve a thick turf that will enhance the beauty of your lawn as well as leave less room available for weeds. This article is going to provide you with elaborate information on how to plant grass seeds on an existing lawn, and after reading this entire article, you will be able to start your lawn renovation project all by yourself.

Steps to Follow

Soon after finishing your project, you will see the rejuvenating effects of applying all the tips and tricks given in this article. So, below is the step by step guide, keep reading.

Step #1: Test Soil

If your lawn requires renovation, your first step should be to discover what is wrong with your lawn or why it needs repair. The best way to figure that out is by running your lawn through a soil test. Contact your local professional analytical laboratory and get the soil tested.

Soil test not only reveals the problems with your soil and its condition but also provides recommendations for fertilization. Using the test results, you can better find out whether the soil needs phosphorus, potassium, iron, or its lacking nitrogen.

There is no use in making efforts and wasting money if you don’t even know where you are heading. Unplanned care provided to your lawn may cause harm to your yard. However, proper planning and homework may reduce the efforts and total expenditure of your project. So, consider having the soil tested right at the beginning so that you can move on accordingly.

Step #2: Type of Seed

Seeds types

Once the test has been taken and you have interpreted the results, you should decide on the type of grass seeds you would like to saw.

It is an essential step because you can’t risk buying a different grass seed since grasses come with different behavior, look, feel, needs, and they grow better in specific seasons and climates.

Therefore, you need to find seeds of grass identical to the grass on your lawn.

Step #3: Seasonal Timing

Some of the grasses best grow in cool-season while the others give their best performance in slightly warm weather like spring season. So, better start with knowing the season when your grass seeds should be sown to get the best results.

If you are dealing with a cool-season grass, the seeds should be sown from mid-August to mid-September when temperature lies between 50 degrees to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. It is the best time when the grass proliferates, providing a thick, green, and healthy lawn.

Step #4: Control Weeds

As you might be aware of it, weeds are notorious for consuming the available nutrients in the soil, leaving an inadequate supply of essentials behind for the grass. In other words, lawn weeds can out-compete the grass for nutrients. As a result, the grass will either not grow well or will lose its vigor.

So, we recommend hand-pulling weeds before planting new seeds. If not so, you can use herbicides to control them and spot-treat them if needed. Most of the herbicides come with instructions about how to use them and at what rate so that you can get optimal results.

Step #5: Mow the Lawn

Lawn mowing

In this step, you would like to mow your lawn and try not to mow your lawn below 1 ¼ inch and above 1 ½ inch.

If the height of your lawn grass will be taller, it will cover the soil preventing sunlight.

The sunlight plays a vital role in the germination of a seed as it provides warmth to the seed due to which it germinates.

Before you start mowing, remember to set the cutting height of your lawn mower between 1 ¼ to 1 ½ inch.

Step #6: Steel Rake

Now, it is time to use a steel rake to remove the grass clippings and scratch the soil.

Step #7: Aeration

It is highly beneficial to aerate the areas before spreading seeds.  We suggest avoiding excessive aeration as it may destroy the soil structure, which may not be favorable. The aeration will prepare the site well so that the seeds may germinate faster.

Step #8: Starter Fertilizer

When you are done aerating your lawn, you need to fertilize the spots where you want new grass seeds to grow. Starter fertilizers are useful and include all the essential elements that facilitate the growth of the grass.

You should start fertilization only when you have already prepared the soil for seeding. When you are done with all else, and the soil is ready, use starter fertilizer to make soil ideal for the growth of grass.

You will have to apply around 4 pounds of starter fertilizer per 1000 square feet depending on the instructions given by the fertilizer company. You will see a ratio given on the label of fertilizer more likely written as 16:20:10, which shows the percentage of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, respectively. You would like to choose one according to the test results you received in the beginning.

Step #9: Topsoil

If the soil on your lawn demonstrates a bad condition or if you want better results, topdress the soil with topsoil, which will provide a better environment to the seed to grow faster and healthier.

Step #9: Seeding

Use a seed spreader to spread the seed evenly. We recommend using a drop spreader, but the drop spreader should be calibrated. The calibrated drop spreaders ensure the even spreading of seeds. If you find it difficult to arrange a calibrated drop spreader, then use a simpler drop spreader and set the spreader adjustment to the lowest point.

Step #10: Tamp the seed

Tamp the grass seeds

After spreading the seeds, tamp them using the back of the steel rake or any other similar tool. The firm contact between soil and the seed is necessary or ideal for the germination. Make sure not to bury the seeds under the soil because that may hinder the process of germination.

Remember! Seeds require sunlight for germination and firm contact with the soil. So, you need to ensure they get both of them.

Step #11: Fertilization

Right after seeding, fertilization of the seeded areas can be extremely effective. Apply the fertilizer evenly and at a specified rate, following the instruction given by the fertilizer company.

Some people recommend using fertilizers with a high ratio of phosphorus. However, we recommend using a nitrogen-rich fertilizer since nitrogen is the element that speeds up the growth process rather than phosphorus.

Step #12: Mulch

You can also spread mulched clippings of grass or straws, but make sure the layer of mulch should not be thicker than ¼ inches. Otherwise, it will block the sunlight and hamper the seed germination.

If you are applying mulch right (1/8 to 1/4 inches), it will keep the moisture near the seed, which aids in germination and speeds the growth. Mulch should be applied when you are sowing grass seeds in early fall since it may not be favorable in summer.

Step #13: Irrigation

Now, you need to water your lawn so that the seeds can get the moisture, which is necessary for germination. You don’t need to soak the seeded area at once thoroughly. Instead, prefer watering the lawn 3 to 4 times a day for 5 to 15 minutes depending on the weather and size of the seeded areas.

The soil should not dry once moist, so make sure to water the lawn every day, and the purpose of watering is to keep the soil moist rather than waterlogged.

You may gradually decrease the frequency of irrigation when the grass seedlings are two inches high.

Step #14: Mowing

It is not a part of the seeding process, but it includes some ‘aftercare’ practices. When the grass seeds germinate, and they are grown enough to be mowed, start mowing. Though at a decreased frequency, don’t forget to water your lawn regularly. Also, keep pulling off the weeds if you find any.

Apart from this, we would like you to inform you that seedlings are usually very delicate and therefore, you will have to control the traffic so that they can grow and get mature. To easily mow your lawn, you should check our list of best self propelled lawn mowers.

Step #15: Enjoy

At this point, you probably need nothing to do. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy your healthy and lush green lawn.

Can you just sprinkle grass seed on the lawn?

Well, technically you can, but there is no use in doing so. If it rains, the seed may wash away with rainwater, or it can be moved from its place by the worms or insects. As a result, you will have the same bare spot with no grass. Furthermore, the seed needs a firm contact with the soil to germinate. So, don’t just sprinkle it. Finally, we would suggest you read the entire article for a profound understanding of this.

Can you put down too much grass seed?

If you put down too much grass seed, it won’t help to get a thicker lawn; rather, the seeds will have to go through more struggle to grow. Use the seeds according to the rate given by the seed company.

Should I aerate before seeding?

Yes, you should aerate your lawn before seeding. It will prepare the soil so it can provide the environment in which seed can germinate, sprout, and grow faster. Aerated soil serves to improve the respiration process of plants and allows a better intake of essential nutrients for better growth.

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