How to Plant Grass Seed: An Expert, Step-by-Step Guide

by Daniel Hunter

Sowing grass seed to create a new lawn is easy. Plus, it’s a damn site cheaper than laying turf!

And in this article, I’m going to show you how to sow grass seed, step-by-step.

To be successful though, you need to sow at the right time, with the right seed for your lawn, on well-prepared soil. And then you need to care for and nurture it so it grows into a stunner of a lawn.

When to Sow Grass Seed

Grass seed needs the right weather conditions if it’s to germinate and grow well.

The soil needs to be warm, and there should be plenty of sunlight without it being too hot. And it needs enough rain to keep the soil damp without it washing the seed away or drowning it in puddles.

Early autumn is best (for a few reasons) but if you don’t want to wait, mid-spring is another good time.

You should avoid doing it in the summer and winter.

More information: The Best Time to Sow Grass Seed

Choosing the Right Grass Seed

There’s a huge range of grass seed products on the market and choosing the right one for your lawn is important.

For example;

  • A lawn that sits in shade will need different grasses from a lawn that basks in the sun all day.
  • A family lawn needs different grasses than an ornamental lawn.
  • Lawns that grow on clay soil need different grass species than a lawn that grows on sandy soil.

So take your time to choose the right grass seed.

Read more: The Best Grass Seed: How to Choose the Correct Seed For Your Lawn.

Preparing the Soil

I’ve said this a million times…

The quality of the final result depends on the quality of the preparation. So do the job right;

  1. Kill off your old lawn with a glyphosate-based weed killer
  2. Dig or rotovate the soil to a depth of at least 15cm
  3. Add in a topsoil or soil improver if necessary
  4. Level the area
  5. Firm the soil by ‘heeling’ it
  6. Apply a pre-seeding fertiliser
  7. Rake the area to a fine tilth

More information: How to Prepare the Soil For a New Lawn, Step-by-Step.

Sowing Grass Seed, Step-By-Step

Assuming you’ve prepared the ground well, sowing grass seed is dead easy.

If you prefer to watch the process in action, have a watch of this video from Rolawn.

Pro Tip:

The UK’s weather forecast changes as often as my wife changes her mind about what to have for tea. So it’s a good idea to have a plan in place, in case the weather takes a turn.

Get enough polythene sheeting to cover your lawn. I use this stuff from Amazon.

Then, 24 hours before sowing your seed, water the area to a depth of around 2 inches. This will create a ‘bank’ of moisture within the soil.

Then if it bounces it down with rain, cover the area with your polythene sheeting. This will prevent the seed from washing away but it’ll still have access to the water you put into the soil.

If it gets hot, the sheeting will prevent the moisture from evaporating and incubate the seed.

Then, water the soil as per my instructions below.

Step 1: Spread Your Lawn Seed at the Specified Rate

Your lawn grass will have a specified sowing rate for new lawns. Many products specify 35g per square metre.

So if you have 100m2 you’ll need 3.5kg of grass seed.

You can get away with spreading your seed by hand if your lawn is small. A spreader will be much more accurate as you can set the sowing rate. Spreading by hand is very much guesswork.

Be careful not to spread the into borders. I tend to seed the edges by hand to avoid this.

Step 2: Rake the Seed into the Soil

To ensure good contact between the seed and the soil, rake the seed into the top 10mm-20mm of soil.

In the interest of perfection, you could run a lawn roller over the area to get the best soil contact possible.

And that’s it, you have sown your grass seed. Now you need to care for it.

How to Care For a New Lawn From Seed

Sowing the grass seed is only the first step. You need to care for it now to make sure it germinates and grows.

Here’s how;

Watering Grass Seed: Little and Often

watering grass seed little and often

With the seed in the ground, you need to keep the soil moist.

It’s important to use a sprinkler with a fine spray. Heavy watering will dislodge the seed and cause puddling.

In the first and second week, water twice a day. Early morning and late afternoon. All it needs is 4-5 minutes at a time to keep the surface damp.

During the third and fourth weeks, reduce the frequency to once a day in the morning for 5-7 minutes. At this point, you should see some germination.

In the second month, water every other day for 10 minutes.

For month three, water once a week for 30 minutes.

New grass is prone to drying out in dry spells so use your best judgement and turn the sprinklers on if needed.

Hand Weed if Necessary

hand weeding a new lawn

Weeds are a pain in the ass. Especially if you’re sowing a new lawn in the spring when they’re in their highest numbers.

Bare soil is the ideal place for any airborne weed seeds to fall into and germinate. Digging and rotovating the soil might have also brought dormant seeds to the surface too.

Sometimes it might look like there are more weeds than grass.


Most won’t survive the first few cuts with the mower and the new grass will outcompete them as it grows.

That said, you’ll need to deal with any that stick around. The only way is to remove them by hand before they flower. Hitting them with any kind of weed killer (even one for lawns) will likely kill the new grass too.

When walking across the lawn to remove any weeds, use wooden planks to distribute your weight. Walking on the grass itself is likely to damage it.

Prevent Birds From Eating Your Grass Seed

prevent birds from eating grass seed

I like birds but I don’t want them pecking at my new lawn and munching all my grass seed.

There are a few of ways to stop birds eating grass seed;

  • Lay fruit netting over the area
  • Create visual deterent by making fake scarecrows, tying plastic bags to canes and pushing them into the ground, or hanging CD’s from string
  • Create noise deterents using ultrasonic pets repellers or windchimes
  • Provide an alternative food source

When to Cut New Grass

cutting new grass

When the grass is 70mm-80mm high, give your lawn its first cut.

It could take two weeks to get this high, it could take 6 weeks. It doesn’t matter, it depends on the weather and growing conditions.

Make sure (and is this is super important) that your lawn mower is clean and the blade is sharp.

Also, the grass has to be dry.

Set your mower to its highest setting and only take the tops off the grass. Go slow to make sure the cut is as cleans as possible taking care when turning the mower. Try not to turn it on the lawn. Pick it up and turn it if necessary.

Cut your grass once a week for the next month or so on your mowers highest setting. Then you can start to bring the height down by a setting each time until the grass is at your preferred height.

Overseeding Any Bare Patches

overseeding bare patches on a new lawn

Chances are there will be one or two patches that look a bit thin or bare.

This is normal and nothing to get your pants in a twist over.

Grab some more grass seed and scatter it in those areas, sprinkle some soil over them and keep them watered. They will soon fill in.

Using Your New Lawn

Different types of grass seed germinate and grow ang grow faster than others. For example, ryegrass germinates and grows quicker than fescues and bent grasses.

Try to give your lawn a good 3-4 months to establish before using it.

Remember: All This Depends on the Weather

I’ve tried to be as step-by-step and as specific as I can with timelines and when to do what. But at the end of the day, what you do and how things go depends on what the weather wants to do.

Sometimes you just have to adapt, improvise and overcome.

That said, by getting yourself some polythene sheeting, you’ll have a plan in place should the weather decide it wants to try and cock things up for you.

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