8 Yard Seeding Tips for Healthy Growing Grass

Paige Bennett
Written by Paige Bennett
Updated January 31, 2022
Family hanging out together in the back yard on the grass
Photo: Rob and Julia Campbell / Stocksy / Adobe Stock

The grass will always be greener on your side with these tips

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A healthy lawn can do wonders for your home’s curb appeal. It can also make family gatherings in the backyard more enjoyable. But thin grass, bare spots, or dying grass are all common issues that can keep your yard from looking its best. If you want to achieve healthy, green grass in your lawn, follow these seeding tips.

1. Understand the Types of Seeding

Your current lawn may look fine, but maybe it could look better if the grass was fuller. Or perhaps the neighborhood gophers have left a few spots bare, and you just need to liven up a few sparse areas. Here are a few different types of seeding to consider before you refresh your yard.

  • Reseeding: Reseeding involves planting new seeds on bare dirt.

  • Spot seeding: If you’re just planting seeds in specific barren areas, this is called spot seeding.

  • Overseeding: Overseeding helps make lawns look fuller by filling in sparse or thin grass. 

2. Choose the Right Seeds

Grass isn’t just grass. There are many different types of grasses out there to consider. You may want tall grasses as a decorative element behind your flower beds or perennial grasses around your maple trees. There are warm- and cool-season grasses to consider, too. The style of grass you go with may depend on your location and climate, light conditions, your landscape design preferences, and your budget. If you live in an area with an HOA, there may also be rules regarding the type of grass seed you choose.

3. Prep the Soil

Less compacted, aerated soil is the best base for seeding. Clear out any rocks, branches, or other debris that will impede the grassy growth. If you’re reseeding the lawn, you can remove existing grass with a shovel, sod cutter, or herbicides to kill the grass. Note that using an herbicide will take one or two weeks to kill off the old grass.

Level your yard by filling in gaps or holes with fresh soil, then rake through the soil to break the soil into small pea-sized pieces. If the soil is compacted, you can use a tiller to break it up. With compacted soil, air and nutrients can’t penetrate the land as deeply, so it may also need aeration to help the seeds thrive. You can hire a local lawn aeration service for healthier soil before you start seeding. 

4. Seed Your Lawn at the Right Time

man in backyard fertilizing grass
Photo: ImagESine/ Adobe stock

You may be wondering how often you should be seeding your lawn in the first place. Should you seed in spring for flowing summer grasses, or do you brave the wintry cold so it sprouts in time for April Showers? Generally, the best time of year to plant grass seeds is in late summer or early fall. The seeds will have less competition from crabgrass and other weeds, they’ll require less water than if planted during the summer, and the soil will still be warm enough for the seeds to germinate before winter.

5. Keep Seeds Moist

To germinate, you need to keep the soil and seeds moist. You should water immediately after seeding. You’ll want to keep the lawn moist but not overflowing with water for two weeks to give the seeds time to get established. That means misting the lawn about once per day, more if the weather is hot. After the first two weeks, water enough to keep the top two inches of soil moist until the grass is about three inches high. Then, you can reduce watering to two or three times per week as the grasses grow deeper roots.

6. Feed Seeds With Fertilizer

The best way to ensure your seeds have the nutrients they need is to apply lawn food the same day you seed the lawn. You can find fertilizers made specifically for seeding or new grass and simply follow the product instructions to help give your new yard seeds the boost they need. To find the fertilizer that works best for your lawn, consider a soil test. A soil test costs about $13,000 and can measure pH levels, minerals, carbon analysis, and even toxins.

7. Hold Off on Mowing

It can be tempting to mow the older grass that is growing taller than you’d like—especially if you’ve spot-seeded parts of the lawn or are overseeding your lawn, But wait until the new grasses are at least 3 inches in height to start mowing again. For the healthiest grass that looks lush, plan to keep the grass at about 2.5 to 3 inches tall.

8. Maintain Your Lawn

woman raking leaves in yard
Photo: Budimir Jevtic / Adobe Stock

With your lawn’s bare spots now covered in bright, healthy green grass, it’s time to keep it looking its best. If you planted seeds in late summer or early fall, rake away leaves to help sunlight reach the soil for the seeds and young grass. About eight weeks after seeding, you can start regular lawn fertilization. And although that new grass will look inviting quickly, wait at least one month after seeding before you take your bare feet to your refreshed lawn.

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