You've probably heard lots of advice from your neighbors. They probably say that starting a new lawn is hard work best left to professionals. Or you should bite the bullet and pay for sod. The fact is, you can save money and be successful starting a new lawn from seed. You just need a little preparation, quality grass seed ideal for your growing conditions, well-prepared soil, and a little patience.
Choose a grass that is right for your lifestyle, budget and location. Start by thinking about the type of lawn you want and the growing conditions. Will the lawn get full sun or partial? Will it get a lot of foot traffic or be used by pets? Look over all the great options that Scotts offers or use the Grass Seed Selector tool on this site.
This step is optional. Sure, you can go through the trouble of getting your soil analyzed by the county. You can even do it yourself with a kit. What you'll learn from a test is what nutrients and amendments to add to your soil to improve it. Fortunately, you can get beautiful results with good preparation and maintenance.
Once you've laid out the area where you want your future lawn and taken the time to remove the old lawn, take a walk around and inspect the area. Remove large rocks and debris, fill in low spots, and if your soil is compacted, you will need to work it over with a tiller. Your goal is to break your soil down to pea- or marble-sized particles, which serve as welcome mats for grass seeds. To improve your soil quality, mix in several bags of Scotts® Turf Builder® Lawn Soil™.
You don't want peaks and valleys in your new lawn. Use a rake to even out the surface as well as you can. At this point, you might be tempted to bring in new topsoil. That's not a good idea, since it may contain seeds of weeds that are tough to control. As you rake, keep removing any rocks or debris you come across.
Which goes on first, the seed or the lawn food? It's up to you. Either way, use a drop or rotary spreader. Just follow the settings on the packages. You want to feed on the same day with Scotts® Starter® Lawn Food for New Grass to give your new grass seedlings a head start.
After the seeds and Starter® lawn food are laid down, cover the seeds with a thin layer of Scotts® Turf Builder® Lawn Soil™. You can do this by gently dragging the back of a leaf rake over your seeded area. On hills, mulch with a thin layer of straw to keep seeds from washing away. Make sure you can plainly see the seedbed beneath the straw. You can also mulch with straw on the rest of your new lawn to help cut back on water use.
After all your efforts, you don't want your grass seed to dry out. Make sure the top inch of soil in your new lawn stays moist. You may need to lightly water two or three times a day. Keep at it until your seedlings are well-established. Once your new lawn has reached a mowing height, you can reduce the frequency and start watering thoroughly once or twice a week.
Great, your new lawn is growing vigorously. Now you have to cut it. Make sure you only mow the top third of the grass blades. Adjust your mower to high setting to keep the lawn nice and thick. When you cut it too short, weeds can sneak in.