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If you want an inexpensive way to grass up a new lawn, try sowing grass seed! It’s very affordable, and will give you a sense of pride when you see your new, lush lawn. It’s a sense of accomplishment that doesn’t come from laying turf.

To grow grass from lawn seed, start by choosing your grass seed – usually a mix of warm season grasses and cool season grasses, although you can go with just one type. This will affect the season during which you plant grass seed. Once you’ve picked the right grass seed for your lawn, measure the area you want to sow and purchase the appropriate volume of new grass seed.

Gift yourself a beautiful seeded lawn that you can take pride in. Learn how to plant grass seed so you can have a vibrant yard.


Types of Grass Seed

There are two types of grass species – warm-season grasses, and cool-season grasses. There’s a lot in the name; warm-season grass prefers warmer conditions, while cool-season grass thrives in cooler climates.


Warm-season grasses

couch grass

This type of grass loves warm conditions, which means it thrives in most Aussie climates. Warm-season grass is hardy and self-repairing, and generally requires less frequent watering. However, it suffers in the winter and cannot tolerate frost.

You can identify warm-season grasses since they have wide leaf blades and a spreading growth habit.

Warm-season grasses include:

  • Couch grass
  • Buffalo grass
  • Kikuyu grass


Cool-season grasses

Fescue grass

This type of grass prefers cooler climates, and has high shade tolerance – although it’ll also adapt to sunny conditions. It does, however, suffer from heat stress during the summer and so it will need a fine mist spray on hot days.

Cool-season grasses form a fine leaf lawn, and the leaf blades grow upright.

This type of grass includes:

  • Perennial rye grass
  • Kentucky blue grass
  • Fescue grass


When to Plant Grass Seed

If you’re going to grow grass from seed, you’ll need to plant at the best time. Most grass seed is a mix of warm and cool season grass, which you can plant in late spring. This way, the grass seedlings will establish themselves while the weather isn’t exceptionally hot. This timing also follows for purely warm-season grasses.

On the other hand, if you use purely cool-season grasses, plant them in cooler weather from late summer to early autumn.


Preparing to Grow Grass Seed

There’s more to sowing seeds than tossing them onto the ground. You’ll need to prep your lawn ahead of time so that your new grass will thrive.


Ensure soil quality

Loosening the earth with a rake in the garden. Leveling the soil.

Before planting grass seed, check and prepare the soil. Start by removing weeds – check with your local council if they allow weed killer – and any existing grass.

Once your lawn is bare, till and level out the soil surface to ensure an evenly-seeded lawn. You may also want to purchase a pH soil test kit to check whether your ground has a neutral pH of about 7.0.

You can cultivate the soil using a starter fertiliser to add nutritional value.

Install any watering systems before planting.


How much grass seed to use

This will depend on the area you want to sow. Measure your lawn, then consult your local nursery so you know the volume of lawn seeds to purchase. But if you need a general estimate, follow these seed volumes:

NEW LAWN: About 30–35g per square metre

EXISTING LAWN: 25g per square metre


Sowing Grass Seed

The most important factors when planting grass seed are patience and effort.


How to plant grass seed on a bare lawn

Sowing lawn grass seeds with a drop lawn spreader

You can either use a seed spreader or sow by hand. A spreader will give you even coverage, and is more effective for large areas. Meanwhile, hand sowing works for smaller lawns.

For a spreader, place half the amount of seed inside and work on half of your lawn. Roll over in one direction, then add the rest of the seed and roll over the other half in the opposite direction. This gives you even dispersion.

For hand sowing, use a scale to measure out seed per square metre. Work slowly and spread as evenly as you can.


How to plant grass seed on existing lawn

Spreading seed on a new lawn is called overseeding. This can fill in bare patches and thicken grass growth, resulting in a healthier appearance.

Start by dethatching and aerating your lawn, then mow the grass down to 3cm. Rake to remove any clippings and other debris, loosening the top layer of soil as you go.

Add some enriched topsoil, about 1cm thick (unless your seed mix already comes with topsoil, then it’s not necessary).

Sow the grass seed using a spreader or by hand sowing. Then spread some starter fertiliser onto the area to help seedlings establish themselves. Water generously.


How to plant grass seed on compacted soil

You can grow a lawn from seed even on hard dirt. Loosen the soil surface with an aerator or a rake until it is nice and crumbly. Cover with topsoil to enrich the surface, then sow seeds using a spreader or by hand.


How to plant grass seed on bare spots

Measure how large the bare spot is and how much seed you’ll need to cover it. Remember: for new lawn it’s about 30–35g per sqm, while for existing lawn it’s 25g per sqm. Use a hand-sowing method and spread the seed evenly.


Watering newly sown grass

Watering lawn grass with an adjustable spray

Use a fine mist spray to keep the soil moist but not overly wet. Water penetration should reach the top 15–20cm, and should not puddle on the surface.


Protecting a newly seeded lawn

If the birds in your area are overly friendly or you live somewhere windy, lightly spread some mulch or other organic matter to protect the ground after you sow seed.


Benefits of Growing from Grass Seeds

grass seeds begin to grow on new soil in the garden

The most significant advantage of growing a new lawn from seed is cost. Premium lawn seed costs less than sod or turf for the same size of lawn.

Other benefits include:

  • More varieties of grass (versus sod which is often a monoculture)
  • Deeper root systems
  • Established grass placement


Disadvantages of growing from seed include a longer growing process, limited seeding times, higher risk of weeds, and more initial maintenance required.


How Long Does Grass Seed Take to Grow?

Most grass seeds will start growing within 10–14 days, but some varieties might take up to 30 days. Germination depends on soil structure and quality, grass species, season, and moisture levels.


Maintaining a Grass Lawn

Keep children and pets off the lawn while the grass is establishing itself. Grass seedlings are sensitive and may not tolerate being trampled before maturity.

Water your grass regularly to ensure a healthy lawn. If you use a sprinkler system, check it once in a while to see if it’s functioning properly.

Only mow your lawn once it reaches 8–10cm, and follow the first mow with some fertiliser. Alternatively, let a professional mowing service take care of this for you!

About Author

Jamie Donovan

Jamie is an Australian horticulturalist and landscape designer. He enjoys writing about landscape architecture, garden design and lifestyle topics.


About Author

Jamie Donovan

Jamie is an Australian horticulturalist and landscape designer. He enjoys writing about landscape architecture, garden design and lifestyle topics.