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how to plant grass seed on hard dirt

how to plant grass seed on hard dirt

If you’re tired of your neighbors getting the looks of you because of your less-than-luscious lawn, it’s time to fix the problem once and for all! Read this article to learn everything you need to know about choosing grass seed, preparing hard soil, and cultivating a vibrant lawn. With a little time and effort, you’ll have gorgeous grass that will make your neighbors green with envy!

Your guide to growing the best lawn on the block

[Edit]things you should know

  • Order a soil test to identify nutrient deficiencies and pH problems.
  • Select a grass species well suited for your climate and the sunlight of your yard.
  • Loosen the soil using an aerator or rototiller, then add a compost and fertilizer mix.
  • Keep the top inch (25.4 mm) of soil moist until the grass is 3 inches (76.2 mm) tall.


[Edit]Get soil test done.

  1. Demystify your lawn problems with a soil analysis. Collect dirt samples from 10-12 areas of your lawn.[1] A lab can then test the pH and nutrient levels to determine why your yard is not growing. They’ll tell you which nutrients need a boost so you can choose the right fertilizer mix for your soil and prevent future problems.[2]
    Planting Grass Seed on Hard Dirt Step 1.jpg
    • You can purchase a soil test kit from Amazon or home improvement stores and send a sample in for analysis. These kits will set you back around $30 USD.
    • Alternatively, you can take your sample to a local test center that suits you. County Extension offices provide soil testing services to area residents.[3] Prices usually range between $10-$20 USD.
    • Some states will even test your soil for free. Thank you, North Carolina, Connecticut and Arkansas![4]

[Edit]Research grass seed.

  1. Consider relevant factors when selecting a grass species. How is your climate? How shady is your lawn? How do you use your yard? For example, if you like to practice soccer footwork on your lawn, you’ll need a traffic-tolerant species like Kentucky bluegrass.[5] Talk to an employee at a local lawn and garden center for advice on which grasses grow best in your area.[6]
    Planting Grass Seed on Hard Dirt Step 2.jpg
    • Opt for a perennial species rather than an annual- reseeding your lawn every year is the worst![7]
    • Clear your calendar according to planting guidelines. Plant cool-season grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass in spring or late fall when temperatures are around 60 °F (15.5 °C). Plant warm-season grasses such as zoysia in early summer.
    • Remember to take germination time into account during the planning phase. Perennial ryegrass only takes 5-10 days to germinate, while zoysia takes 21-30 days to germinate.[8]
    • Weigh the pros and cons of the species you’re considering. For example, zoysia has a thick, dense turf, but it also makes mowing difficult. Perennial ryegrass is traffic tolerant but not drought tolerant.[9]

[Edit]Measure your lawn and buy seed.

  1. Calculate the area of ​​your lawn so you know how much seed to buy. Measure the length and width of your lawn in feet and multiply those 2 numbers to calculate the area. Divide the area by 1,000 to find out how many bags of seed to buy.[10]
    Planting Grass Seed on Hard Dirt Step 3.jpg
    • Make sure you have enough seeds before starting your project.
    • An online grass seed calculator is a helpful tool; It can also calculate in meters and kilograms.[11]

[Edit]Aerate your lawn.

  1. Loosen hard soil by aerating the dirt. For a rough lawn, core aeration may be sufficient to keep your lawn happy. Rent an aerator machine to blow out plugs of dirt so grass roots can get the air, water and nutrients they crave.[12]
    Planting Grass Seed on Hard Dirt Step 4.jpg
    • Wear closed-toe shoes and safety goggles when operating equipment, and follow the instructions provided by the rental company.[13]

[Edit]Up to the tough dirt.

  1. Create a new surface for planting by plowing the packed soil. If your yard is in a seriously sad state, it’s best to bring out the big guns: a rototiller that tears up the earth 6-10 inches deep. This machine is like a blender for grime, easily breaking it up and adding essential oxygen back to the soil.[14]
    Planting Grass Seed on Hard Dirt Step 5.jpg
    • Contact the utility company a few days before plowing. They will send an agent to mark the buried lines. In the US, dial 811 to reach the national “call-before-you-dig” hotline.[15]
    • A half-day rental of a rototiller costs around $70.[16]
    • Follow all instructions provided by the rental company. Wear safety goggles and sturdy closed-toed shoes when using a rototiller.[17]
    • If you have more money than time, you can make truckloads of quality topsoil instead. Order enough to cover hard-packed dirt with 4-6 inches (.1-.15 m.) of screened topsoil.[18] At $20-$40 USD per cubic yard (.91 cubic meter), it is convenient but expensive.

[Edit]Mix in compost and manure.

  1. Correct soil imbalances by adding compost and nutrients. Your soil test results provide the information you need to choose the best fertilizer for your soil. Mix fertilizer with compost, then spread an inch or two of the compost mixture over aerated lawn or tilled soil.[19] Next, use a rake to level the surface of the soil.[20]
    Planting Grass Seed on Hard Dirt Step 6.jpg
    • You should prepare the area in advance. Till it starts, add some compost to it to kick start it.[21]
    • If you know it will rain, you can pour the feed into the ground 24 hours in advance.[22]
    • If you already have some healthy grass on your lawn, it will continue to grow through the thin top layer of compost.[23]
    • Allow the soil to settle for a few hours to a few days before adding grass seed—no one likes a lumpy lawn!

[Edit]Sow grass seed.

  1. Use a drop spreader to evenly sprinkle grass seed. Check the instructions on the bag to see which setting to use on the drop seed spreader, then fill it with grass seed. Go slowly and overlap the rows of seeds slightly.[24] Then, rake gently to make sure the seed is in contact with the dirt (but avoid burying it; the seed should only be covered by ¼ inch [6.35 mm] maximum soil).[25]
    Plant Grass Seed on Hard Dirt Step 7 Version 2.jpg
    • You can use a grass spreader. Later water it well.[26]

[Edit]Water the lawn.

  1. Water the seeds thoroughly until the top inch (25.4 mm) of soil is moist. [27] For the seed to germinate, the soil must remain consistently moist (but not soggy).[28]
    Planting Grass Seed on Hard Dirt Step 8.jpg
    • Continue watering at least once a day or as often as needed to keep the seeds moist.[29]

[Edit]Soak the sprouts.

  1. Encourage strong root development by soaking the grass deeply. Once your seedlings reach a height of 3 inches (76.2 mm.), reduce your watering schedule to twice a week while increasing the length of time you water them. You’re aiming for a moist soil depth of 6 inches (.15 m.).[30]
    Planting Grass Seed on Hard Dirt Step 9.jpg
    • Insert the screwdriver into the soil and then pull it out to measure the depth of the wet soil.[31]

[Edit]Mowing your lawn.

  1. Wait to cut your new grass until it is 3 inches (76.2 mm) tall. For a healthy lawn, keep warm-season grass species at least 1 inch (25.4 mm) tall and cool-season grasses at least 2 inches (50.8 mm) tall.[32]
    Plant Grass Seed on Hard Dirt Step 10.jpg
    • Keep the mower blades sharp to avoid damaging your tender sprouts.[33]
    • Leave the clippings on the lawn. If your lawnmower has a mulching setting, mow weekly and leave the clippings on the grass. They are rich in nutrients and make a terrific free fertilizer.[34]
    • However, don’t leave clumps of heavy, wet clippings on the lawn. Lift them up and remove them or the grass below may die. It would be a tragedy after all your hard work![35]

[Edit]keep off the grass.

  1. Keep away from the grass to protect the delicate roots. You can walk on it when watering or mowing, but avoid all other foot traffic until the bare spots are completely covered with grass.[36]
    Plant Grass Seed on Hard Dirt Step 11.jpg

[Edit]Fertilize your lawn regularly.

  1. Feed with a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer to keep your lawn vibrant. Use about ½ – 1 pound (.23 kg – .45 kg) of fertilizer for every 1,000 square feet (305.8 square meters) of grass. Do this every 8 weeks in the spring, summer and fall.[37]
    Plant Grass Seed on Hard Dirt Step 12.jpg
    • Use a rotary spreader to evenly spread the fertilizer granules over the lawn.[38]
    • To prevent grass from growing in certain areas, you can set separation limits.[39]
    • You can get a variety of separation limits from home improvement stores. This can be a plastic or concrete barrier.[40]
    • If you wish, you can put down landscaping mats to prevent weeds and grass from growing in that area.[41]


  • Call your utility company before plowing to avoid damaging underground power lines.
  • Use caution when operating landscaping equipment. Wear proper protective gear, including goggles and close-toed shoes.


  1. https://treillageonline.com/grass-seed-on-hard-dirt/
  2. https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/sites/default/files/2022-10/Soil%20PH.pdf
  3. http://npic.orst.edu/pest/countyext.htm#:~:text=Each%20county%20within%20the%20United,%2C%20agriculture%2C%20and%20pest%20control.
  4. https://union.ces.ncsu.edu/soil-testing-kits/
  5. https://www.canr.msu.edu/resources/installing_a_new_lawn_use_seed_e2910
  6. https://www.homefortheharvest.com/best-grass-seed/
  7. https://www.homefortheharvest.com/best-grass-seed/
  8. https://www.homefortheharvest.com/how-long-for-grass-seed-to-germinate/
  9. https://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/zoysiagrass/
  10. https://www.inchcalculator.com/grass-seed-calculator/
  11. https://www.inchcalculator.com/grass-seed-calculator/
  12. https://treillageonline.com/grass-seed-on-hard-dirt/
  13. https://www.ehs.wvu.edu/files/d/17934289-297c-4d1c-944a-1291f774a7b2/rototiller-safety.pdf
  14. https://www.forbes.com/home-improvement/lawn-care/lawn-aerator-rental/
  15. http://www.callbeforeyoudig.org/
  16. https://www.forbes.com/home-improvement/lawn-care/lawn-aerator-rental/
  17. https://www.ehs.wvu.edu/files/d/17934289-297c-4d1c-944a-1291f774a7b2/rototiller-safety.pdf
  18. https://ipm.missouri.edu/MEG/2009/9/Selecting-Good-Top-Soil-for-Lawns-and-Gardens/
  19. https://extension.umaine.edu/gardening/manual/selecting-fertilizers-based-soil-test-results/
  20. https://treillageonline.com/grass-seed-on-hard-dirt/
  21. [v162230_b01], 31 October 2022.
  22. [v162230_b01], 31 October 2022.
  23. https://cerch.org/information-for/does-grass-grow-in-compost/
  24. https://www.popularmechanics.com/home/lawn-garden/how-to/g237/the-quick-and-easy-guide-to-fertilizing-your-lawn/
  25. https://treillageonline.com/grass-seed-on-hard-dirt/
  26. [v162230_b01], 31 October 2022.
  27. https://www.homefortheharvest.com/how-long-for-grass-seed-to-germinate/
  28. https://treillageonline.com/grass-seed-on-hard-dirt/
  29. https://www.homefortheharvest.com/how-long-for-grass-seed-to-germinate/
  30. https://treillageonline.com/grass-seed-on-hard-dirt/
  31. https://www.homefortheharvest.com/how-long-for-grass-seed-to-germinate/
  32. https://treillageonline.com/grass-seed-on-hard-dirt/
  33. https://www.canr.msu.edu/resources/installing_a_new_lawn_use_seed_e2910
  34. https://extension.oregonstate.edu/news/it-best-cut-grass-often-leave-clippings-lawn
  35. https://extension.oregonstate.edu/news/it-best-cut-grass-often-leave-clippings-lawn
  36. https://www.canr.msu.edu/resources/installing_a_new_lawn_use_seed_e2910
  37. https://treillageonline.com/grass-seed-on-hard-dirt/
  38. https://www.popularmechanics.com/home/lawn-garden/how-to/g237/the-quick-and-easy-guide-to-fertilizing-your-lawn/
  39. [v161899_b01], 20 August 2021.
  40. [v161899_b01], 20 August 2021.
  41. [v161899_b01], 20 August 2021.


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