Starting a New Lawn from Seed

When to Plant Seeds for Your New Lawn

The best time to plant a new lawn from seed in our region of Northern California is late summer to early fall. At that The ground is still warm and makes a great incubator for quick germination. You’ll also be giving your new grass a long cool season to become established before the ground warms up again. The second-best time to start a lawn from seed is in the early spring. Since new grass has less time to become established before the onset of hot weather, you’ll want to start seeding your lawn as early as possible for best results.

New Lawns: Prepare Soil for Seeding

  1. Loosen the top soil about 2-3 inches by using a rototiller for a large area or a spade on a small lawn area. While you’re loosening the soil, move any debris such as rocks, roots and sticks. Break up any large clumps.
  2. Level the soil by grading the dirt with a rake.

Existing Lawns: Prepare Soil for Seeding

  1. Mow your existing lawn as short as possible
  2. Loosen the bare soil spots about 1/4 inches. While you’re loosening the soil, move any debris such as rocks and dead grass.
  3. Level any areas where water collects by adding excess top soil. Use new soil if you want to avoid using soil that may have weed seeds.

Spreading Lawn Seed

Evenly spread lawn seed evenly by using a hand or lawn spreader or a mechanical seeder in large areas. Apply approximately 16 seeds per square inch. Avoid too many seeds in close proximity as they will fight for room and nutrients weakening grass in those areas.


Whether you are seeding a new lawn or an existing lawn, you should fertilize. For existing lawns, you just need to fertilize the bare spots with a seed accelerator where you laid seeds. New lawns need the entire area fertilized with seed starter. Learn more about fertilizing a new lawn.

Cover Lawn Seeds

Lightly cover the grass seed to keep your seeds safe from rain and hungry birds. You have several options to cover your with. You may cover your lawn bed with no more than ¼-inch of soil to hide grass seeds from birds. You may also cover your grass seeds with some type of sheeting such as plastic, erosion matting, or even a bed sheet.

Watering Grass Seeds and New Grass

To enhance grass seed germination, water often and keep the seed bed moist. Try not to saturate by watering lightly and frequently until new grass is two inches high. We recommend watering every day between 5am and 11am.