Barbara J. Bromley, Mercer Co. Horticulturist


  • mid August to early October (best)
  • early spring (second best)
  • seeding without soil preparation can be done in February on frozen ground.


    1. Have a SOIL TEST (chemical analysis) done to determine pH and nutrient levels.
    1. Remove surface and sub-surface debris, improve drainage, and establish Grade.
    1. LIME according to soil test recommendations or apply 50 lbs./1000 sq. ft. ground or pulverized limestone if soil has not been limed in three years.
    1. FERTILIZE at 3/4 of the rate recommended by the soil test, or apply 7 lbs./1000 sq. ft. of 10-6-4.
    1. Add well-decomposed ORGANIC MATTER, such as compost, leaf mold, or peat moss, in a 1″ to 3″ layer or 1 to 1 1/2 cu. yds./1000 sq. ft.
    2. INCORPORATE lime, fertilizer, and organic matter into the top 4-6″ of soil.
    1. Spread remaining 1/4 rate of fertilizer (or 3 lbs./1000 sq. ft. of 10-6-4) and rake into top 1-2″ of soil. FINE GRADE soil surface so ground is smooth and bump free.
    1. Spread SEED* evenly over soil surface. (SOD may be laid at this point. Skip steps 9 and 11.)
    1. RAKE, so seed has good soil contact.
    1. ROLL with empty roller to lightly embed seed in soil (or create good soil contact for sod.)
    1. MULCH with burlap or a loose layer of straw or salt hay if needed to prevent erosion or drying of soil surface and germinating seed.
  1. WATER. Keep uniformly moist, not wet, until germination occurs.

* If hydroseeding, and lime, fertilizer, and/or mulching material is in the hydroseed mix, follow steps 1, 2, and 8. It is often beneficial to incorporate organic matter before hydroseeding, if possible.

Also see Steps to Renovate an Existing or Damaged Lawn Fact Sheet.