How to Reseed a Lawn

How to Reseed a Lawn

Have you ever just been sitting around and thought, “I really wish I knew how to reseed my lawn.” Well, your good buddies here at Lawn Love don’t want to leave you hanging. This week we’re going to answer that question just for you!

Is it Time to Start Over?

Look, you and your lawn have had some good times together. That barbecue last Memorial Day was off the hook! But these days, as you stand out and survey your lawn, you can tell it’s just not what it used to be. Sometimes, you just need a fresh start; it’s not your lawn, it’s you – and that’s what reseeding can do. It’s not getting rid of your lawn, you shouldn’t think of it that way! You’re doing it a favor. Tell your kids you sent the grass to live in a farm upstate where it can grow free without all those weeds.

The First Step: Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

The first thing you need to do in order to determine if reseeding is right is to evaluate the lawn. If you’ve tried spot application of weed killers, core aeration, and dethatching without much success, then it’s probably time for a reseed.

Next, get a soil analysis. Get a plug of soil from your lawn about six inches under the surface. You shouldn’t even consider going for the reseed until you’ve had a soil analysis done to determine if you need to add soil treatments or fertilizers. Otherwise, you’ll waste time and money on seed that may not even have a chance of establishing itself.

The Second Step: Kill it All!

We’ve come to the part of the process that requires you to become a stone cold killer. It’s OK – it’s not illegal. What you’re doing is putting that lawn out of its misery. Cover the lawn with black plastic sheeting secured with rocks or stakes. Sure, you can use chemicals such to do this, but if you have kids or pets, that’s probably not the safest (or most cost effective) choice. Plus, with black plastic sheeting, you don’t have to watch the lawn die. In two to three weeks, the grass will be brown and dry. Now, the deed is done and the grass is no more. Playing “Taps” on a bugle is totally appropriate right now.

The Third Step: Rake It Away

Now it’s time to dispose of the evidence – er, I mean – rake away the dead grass. Use a rigid rake and a lot of elbow grease to remove the dead grass. On the plus side, you can skip arm day at the gym this week.

The Fourth Step: Work That Soil!

Remember having the soil tested way back before you become a herbicidal maniac? Well, thanks to that ingenious step you now know what you need to add to the soil in order to make it a place where healthy grass wants to grow. Spread the soil conditioners you need across the lawn, and then take a tiller to it. You want to go about five inches down with the tiller to really mix it in well.

After you’ve done that, smooth the soil with a broom rake to level it out. You want to create furrows with the rake for the grass seed to go in. Remember, grass seeds need a level and smooth surface in order to give it the best chance for germination.

The Fifth Step: Get Your Fertilizer Spreading

Get a spreader to spray fertilizer into the furrows you created with the rake. Don’t overdo it – there is such a thing as over fertilization. Using a starter fertilizer in this step can help provide the grass seed what it needs to grow well. But keep in mind that different types of grass seed may need different fertilizer, so discuss it with your friends at the local lawn and garden store. And always make sure to follow instructions!

The Sixth Step: Volunteer Your Tributes – Also, Pick the Seed

You need the right kind of seed for your lawn, so make sure to find one that matches the conditions of your lawn as well as a grass that is the right maintenance level for your preferences. Some people like high maintenance grass, some don’t. There’s no right answer here – the only thing you have to do is pick the seed that will make you happy. That’s always what my mom told me, anyway.

Once you pick the right seed, then you need to prepare it. Mix the seed with some fertilizer in a plastic bucket and give it a good mixing. You want to aim for a 4:1 ratio of seed and fertilizer to make sure you get it right.

The Seventh Step: Go Forth and Spread Your Seed

That broom rake that gave you nightmares for a week that you vowed never to use again? Well, you need to use it again. Once you spread the seed with your spreader, you need to turn the rake over and use it to drag across the top. The aim here is to cover most of the seed. You only want to see about 10 to 15 percent of what you spread by the time you’re down with this step.

The Eighth Step: Mulch Ado About Nothing

Now it’s time to cover the soil with compost mulch. You can also use grass seed accelerator here – either will work. It will absorb moisture and slowly release it to help the seed germinate. It’ll also degrade naturally, which means you don’t have to clean it up. Hallelujah!

The Ninth Step: Water – But Not Too Much!

You need to channel your inner Goldilocks here because it’s time to water just the right amount. Too little water and germination won’t occur. Too much water and you’ll cause the grass seed to rot. The key here is to water generously right after you apply the mulch but stop when you see puddles beginning to form. Then, keep the top four to six inches of the soil moist to promote good germination. Water regularly until you see seedling emerge and gradually reduce watering for about six weeks after. You can then switch to your regularly scheduled watering program.

So, there you have it! You now have a new lawn to make more memories with! Isn’t it beautiful?

Sara Butler

Sara Butler has written scores of articles for Lawn Love -- everything from how to revive your dead lawn to how to start to lawn care tools every homeowner should have.