How to Reseed a Lawn Quickly and Efficiently

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A thick, lush, green lawn, especially in the front yard, evokes the sharpness of a well-tailored three-piece suit, the well-cared-for look of a shiny new car with a fresh coat of paste wax, or the gleam of a pair of well-made shoes, freshly polished. A well-kept lawn is a status symbol.

Unfortunately, for too many people, creating or maintaining a lush green lawn can seem overwhelming. It’s not. Along with regular mowing and feeding, maintaining a lawn worthy of your neighbors’ envy is quite simply to reseed it regularly. It’s easy to learn how to reseed lawn in a professional manner. Whether you’re starting from a bare ground or a lawn full of weeds and bare patches, the reseeding part goes quickly.

Preparing a Bare Ground Seed Bed

If your lawn area is bare ground or so thin and sparse it may as well be bare ground, then how to reseed lawn begins with preparing the soil. Doing this greatly increases the germination rate of grass seed and helps ensure that your new lawn gets off to a strong, healthy start.

Soil Amendments in Bare Ground

Begin by creating a seedbed that contains loose, friable soil. The best way to do this is to spread soil amendments on top of the soil and then turn over that soil to incorporate the amendments and create a loose, friable surface in which the grass seed will quickly and easily germinate and grow.

Spread about an inch of fresh black dirt on top of the lawn area. Then add about an inch of finished compost on top of the black dirt. Take a tip from the lawn-care pros and add a third amendment to your soil: medium-coarse sand. The sand will help keep the soil arable and will also help drain water down past the roots of the grass which helps keep the roots from sitting in water after a heavy rain.

Turn Over the Soil in Bare Ground

Once you have spread the soil amendments on the planting area, it is time to turn these materials into the top few inches of the soil. There are a couple ways to do this. The labor-intensive way is to manually turn the soil over with a garden spade, one shovelful at a time. If your yard is small or you are in good physical shape and have the time, using a garden spade is a very cost-effective way to prepare the planting bed.

A faster way to prepare your bare earth lawn for seeding is to use a motorized rototiller to turn over the soil. This makes how to reseed your lawn less of a physical chore. However, unless you already own a rototiller, it will mean an increased cost through rental fees.

After you rototill or manually turn over the soil in your bare lawn, smooth the surface of the soil with a garden rake.

Preparing a Seed Bed in an Existing Lawn

Although you won’t need a rototiller to prepare an existing lawn, you do need to make the ground seed-friendly so the seeds have a better chance of germinating and actually growing.

Soil Amendments in an Existing Lawn

It may be tempting to just toss the seeds down on top of the existing grass, but you’ll get much better results if you amend the soil first. To do this, use a manual garden tool called a spreader. Part of it is a container in which you place the soil amendments. At the bottom is a row of adjustable holes that evenly distribute the contents of the container. You simply push the spreader around your yard in a grid pattern and the soil amendments are deposited onto the lawn.

For an existing lawn, begin by spreading a thin layer of medium-coarse sand with the manual spreader. On top of that, spread a thin layer of finely textured compost.

Loosen the Surface of the Soil in an Existing Lawn

The best way how to reseed lawn successfully is to loosen the surface of the soil. This will allow the grass seed to more easily take root and successfully continue to grow.

With a Pitchfork

You can use a pitchfork to loosen the soil. Simply stab the pitchfork about two to three inches into the existing grass at relatively even intervals and give it a little wiggle. In these grassy areas, the pitchfork will create small pockets where the seeds and soil amendments will gather, giving the seeds a better chance at germination and subsequent survival.

With a Garden Spade

In the bare earth parts of the lawn, you can either turn the soil over with the pitchfork or with a garden spade. Remember, you’re trying to aerate the surface of the soil in the bare patches to make them more welcoming to the grass seeds. After you’ve finished turning over the bare patches, use the garden rake to smooth the surface of the soil.

With a Pair of Aerating Spikes

A third way to agitate the soil before reseeding is to strap on a pair of aerating spikes and take a walk around your lawn. These are like old-fashioned roller skates that you put on over your shoes. The aerating spikes strap on over your shoes and cover the bottom like super pointed golf shoes. If you walk around your existing grass, this preparation is a way how to reseed lawn without a lot of physical effort.

Putting Down the Grass Seed

The technique of how to reseed lawn is universal. The steps are the same for both bare ground sites and those that already have grass. The most efficient way to do this is with a garden spreader, the same one used to spread soil amendments on an existing lawn.

  1. Set the size of the holes in the bottom of the spreader according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  2. Fill the hopper with grass seed.
  3. Next, push the manual spreader around your lawn in a strict grid pattern. This should be similar to the grid you walk when you mow your lawn.
  4. Make sure to slightly overlap your rows so you don’t leave any bare spots. However, this is unlike mowing your lawn. Here, you’ll need to walk the grid a second time in a direction perpendicular to the first. This will ensure that every square inch of the lawn gets seeded.
  5. Water the entire lawn thoroughly. Make sure the seedbed gets one to two inches of rain a week either through rainfall or with the sprinkler. Ensure this until the grass is ready to get its first mowing. You should do the latter when it is about three to four inches high.

Most importantly, rope off the newly seeded area. It’s important to keep pets, kids, and adults off of the grass until it is established. This should take about four to six weeks.

In Conclusion

The steps taken in how to reseed lawn are all necessary. You need to add soil amendments, turn over and/or loosen the top layer of soil. This makes it more hospitable to the seeds. Then you gently smooth over the surface of bare dirt and finally put down the seeds.

Don’t forget to water the seedbed and to keep it well-watered for at least the first couple of months. Finally, cordon off the area so the seeds can germinate and grow without being crushed by people or animals.

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Jonathan E. Bass

Graduated from Middle Tennessee State University. I am currently a gardener. I have a small garden behind my house. I love it.

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