How Do You Start a New Lawn? (Seeding from Scratch)

For most people, starting a new lawn may sound like rocket science, especially if you are a new homeowner, Starting a new lawn from scratch is not as a big deal as it may seem or sound. Let’s get down on how its done step by step.

How to Start a New lawn – Steps

With the following easy and simple steps, coupled with the willpower, starting a new lawn should be a bliss. You do not have to involve a professional, especially if you are a handy person. However we may look at it, a professional’s work does not compare anywhere with a DIY. Here is how to start a new lawn

1. Time your planting right

When starting a new lawn from scratch, planning your planting time is critical. Seasons with torrential rainfall, snow, or strong winds are not good for any kind of planting, let alone grass.

For the best results, you should schedule your planting between late spring and summer seasons. These receive some bits of rainfall, coupled with warm temperatures. These are perfect conditions for accelerated germination of the grass seeds. Besides, the mild rainfall will not damage the root system of the newly germinated seed.

Also your timing should be in line with the type of grass you want to grow. There are ideal climatic conditions for planting warm season grasses. Similarly, there are best conditions for growing cool season grasses you should know.

2. Removal of old grass

The process of starting a new lawn from scratch begins with the removal of the old, brown, patchy, and unwanted grass from your lawn. And because the lawn is a couple of square footage, I advise on using a black poly film, over a chemical kill.

This is because a chemical herbicide would only raise the pH level of your soil, something that would present you with issues when seeding.

A black poly film only blocks sunlight from reaching the grass and this kills it, without adding any unwanted chemicals in the already weak soil. Then use a rigid tine rake to remove the dead grass, moss, and weeds from your space.

3. Land leveling

A bumpy lawn is not just unsightly, but it also presents you with problems like standing water in yard because of floods during the heavy rainfall season. This being the case, it is important to make the land level at this age, before planting a new lawn.

After all, you do not want to do a shoddy work; you want something that you will be proud of after you have finished the work. On top of that, things like bumps, stumps, rocks, debris, and roots make planting and preparation too difficulty.

Land leveling is easy an easy process; you can do it with a fork and a rake to loosen the soil. And when you do this, remember to slope the lawn from the house to prevent your house from groundwater. At this stage, you might consider the services of a professional landscaper, if your lawn is too big.

4. Soil preparation

The process of soil preparation begins with soil pH testing. Scoop some samples from different corners of the lawn, if it is too large and put them in a plastic boxes for testing. Most cities and states have soil testing labs and the services are usually free of charge.

It is only after the test results are back that you can decide on the variety of the grass seed you are going to plant. Some grass seed varieties do well in different climatic conditions and soil PH.

The department of agriculture soil testing lab should advise on the most appropriate grass seed variety for your soil PH.

At this stage, you will also need to aerate your soil to allow air to reach the ground. At the same time, tilling the land allows proper harmonization of the foundation and the topsoil. This works by improving air circulation and stronger root development of the new grass. 

5. Fertilizer application

The essence of soil testing is to help you know the pH level of your lawn soil and what nutrients may be lacking. With these results, you will be able to choose your fertilizer accordingly.

Little nitrogen would not support enough growth of the grass, while too much of it would only accelerate the growth of the grass, requiring you to mow more often. The worst-case scenario is when excess nitrogen supports more growth of thatch, and this comes with frequent weeds.

The best fertilizer for any type of planting is organic fertilizer. It does not have the harmful chemicals that would otherwise poison the soil. Again, it is readily available at lowered market prices. You could even make some for your own, in a form of composite manure at your backyard.  

6. Sowing 

You have now done the bigger part and what is remaining is much less. Sowing a large lawn should be done with the use of seed spreader to avoid exhausting yourself. You may also opt for hydroseeding for quicker results.

But for you to achieve uniform distribution, ensure you overlap your passes slightly. This allows you to cover the spots that may have been left by mistake. This way, you should have a uniform lawn with thick grass.

7. Aftercare

Planting your grass is not everything; you need to make follow-ups to ensure full germination and proper growth thereafter. Proper aftercare means watering the grass often; if you live in a hot and windy climatic zone, then watering it every day is advisable.

Ensure to water early in the morning or evening to prevent water loss through evaporation on hot midday.

Once the grass starts growing, always make sure not to trim it until it reaches ¾ of an inch. Also, never mow a whole ¼ inch of your new grass at once since doing so exposes the remaining blades to the extremes of elements.

After mowing most people wonder what to do with grass clippings. You might consider leaving the clippings on the lawn because they help protect the freshly cut blades from environmental elements.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to common questions about starting a new lawn

Will grass seed grow if I just throw it down?

Yes, the grass will grow only that it will grow weak, and without a stronger root foundation. This is because, for proper root development and air circulation, the soil needs to be prepared. And because there is no land preparation and aftercare, you will end up with poorly distributed grass.

And that is not all; the grass will not be as healthy because it will not be deeply rooted in the ground. Instead of just throwing it on the ground, why don’t you follow the right procedure of planting a new lawn and end up with good looking thick grass? 

Should I put down grass seed or fertilizer first?

You should put down the fertilizer before the seed. Doing so gives you the chance to mix the topsoil with the fertilizer for enhanced root development of the newly planted grass.

Do I need to till before laying grass seed?

Tilling the land before planting new grass seeds is important for proper growth in many ways. It helps in leveling the ground even further and this complements the efforts of landscaping.

It also helps harmonize the foundation and topsoil for enhanced root development of the new grass. At the same time, it helps improve air circulation, and this brings in more nitrogen into the soil for proper growth of the newly germinated grass.

Do I need topsoil for grass seed?

Topsoil is very important for the proper growth of new grass. The topsoil is heavily rich with nutrients such as phosphorus, and nitrogen, both of which support the proper growth of plants.

Contrary to the topsoil, foundation soil lacks such nutrients and cannot alone support proper growth. The best thing is to till the land so that the foundation and the topsoil can mix.


Starting a new lawn from scratch needs patience and a strong will power. If you do everything correctly, you will soon have a new carpet of lush grass in your backyard.


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