How to plant grass seed and get a greener yard

A hand holding and spreading grass seed over a patch in a lawn to demonstrate how to plant grass seed
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

If your lawn has lost its lush appeal, you need to know how to plant grass seed. Did you know  you can grow your own grass? What's more, it doesn’t take as much effort as you’d think. And with the right method, you can easily learn how to plant grass seed and make your grass thick and greener. 

If you’re new to planting grass seed, don’t worry. Here, we will take you through exactly what you need to do, answering any questions you might have along the way. We will cover when you should start planting grass seed, which seeds are best to use as well as how to cultivate your land. So, if you want to spruce up your backyard, here’s how to plant grass seed for a greener lawn. 

Once you've done that, it might also benefit from knowing how to put lime on your lawn for greener results.

How to plant grass seed 

What you'll need

Grass seeds



Lawn spreader (optional)

1. Select the best grass seeds — To find the right grass seeds for you, you need to consider what you want to get out of your lawn, as well as which seeds are best suited for your area. 

Generally speaking, you should shortlist the seeds by your territory. So the northern states of the United States should pick from cool-season grasses, while the central states should plant traditional grasses, and finally the south should use warm-season grasses. 

Once you have a shortlist of seeds, consider how hardy you want the grass to be as well as how much sun it will require for best growth. Some seeds prefer different soil pH levels as well, so this should also be checked.  

Close up of grass seeds

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

2. Prep the soil — Now you have your seeds, it’s time to prep your soil. If you’re planting a new lawn, you need to till the soil to about three inches deep. Break up and loosen this top layer, removing any stones and debris. Level out any uneven sections with a rake — this is to prevent water from accumulating in a particular area. It’s essential that you do not use weed killer at any stage of planting grass seed; this can kill the seeds or prevent germination. You can work compost and fertilizer into the soil to help encourage growth. 

If you’re planting grass seed over an existing lawn, you first need to mow the grass down as short as possible. You can use a rake to help thin out what remains as well if necessary. Use a metal rake to work and loosen the top ¼ inch of soil on the bare patches, removing any debris as you go. Remember to level out any uneven areas using the soil from your yard and mix in compost and fertilizer to help with growth. 

Someone using a shovel to prepare the soil in their yard

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

3. Plant and cover your grass seeds — The trick to planting grass seed is to do so evenly. For small patches, you can do it by hand, but for larger areas we recommend using a lawn spreader, such as Scotts Elite Spreader ($118.23, Amazon (opens in new tab)), for even distribution. Follow the packet instructions for the amount of seeds per area to sew. 

Using a rake, carefully drag the top soil over the seeds, covering them until they’re about ¼ inch deep. Once you’ve done this, you can cover the seeds with mulch or compost to help protect them from the wind. 

Make sure you don't leave any bare patches of soil behind, otherwise you could end up with crabgrass.  

A hand distributing grass seed over soil

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

4. Water regularly and maintain — You will want to water the grass seed regularly at first to help its growth, keeping the bed moist, but not saturated. As a guide, water 1-2 times per day to start, and then less regularly once it reaches 1-2 inches in height. 

Once the grass reaches about 3 inches in height, it’s time to mow it. Just be sure not to cut it back by more than 1 inch, otherwise you will leave it vulnerable to weeds. If your lawn mower is tearing the grass rather than cutting it, be sure to check out how to sharpen lawn mower blades.

Want to upgrade your lawn mower? My Dad just treated himself to a riding lawn mower — here’s what happened

A yard being watered by sprinklers

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Your yard should now have a whole new lease of life. Remember to use fertilizer once it’s well-established (1-2 months old) to keep it looking vibrant and healthy.

When should you plant grass seed? 

This largely depends on the type of grass seed you’re using. If you’re planting cool-season grass, such as Kentucky bluegrass or fine fescue, which you will typically find across northern parts of the United States, you’re best planting in early spring or fall. Whereas if you’re sewing warm-season grass seeds, such as Bermuda grass and centipede grass, you should stick to spring or early summer.

In either case, you should ensure you plant your grass seed after the final frost. Cool-season grass prefers soil temperatures below 65°F, while warm-season grass prefers temperatures of at least 65°F. Check the temperature of your soil for guidance. 

Need more lawn care tips? Here's how to dethatch a lawn. For more planting tips, tricks, and how-tos, check out our guides on how to plant sunflower seeds (opens in new tab) and when to do it, how to plant potatoes, how to grow garlic in 6 simple steps, how to grow tomatoes in pots, and how to grow strawberries. You'll also want to read how to prune hydrangeas, how to care for an orchid, and how to care for air plants.  

And take note: here’s the best time to water your lawn according to the experts and also here's how to overseed your lawn before winter hits.

Cynthia Lawrence
Homes Writer

Cynthia Lawrence specialises in Homes ecommerce, covering all things homes and garden-related. She has a wealth of editorial experience testing the latest, ‘must-have’ home appliances, writing buying guides and the handy ‘how to’ features. 

Her work has been published in various titles including, T3, Top Ten Reviews, Ideal Home, Real Homes, Livingetc. and House Beautiful, amongst many.

With a rather unhealthy obsession for all things homes and interiors, she also has an interior design blog for style inspiration and savvy storage solutions (get rid of that clutter!). When she’s not testing cool products, she’ll be searching online for more decor ideas to spruce up her family home or looking for a great bargain!