How to Revive Your Lawn: Planting Grass Seed Over Dead Grass

YouTube video
Video how to plant grass seed over dead grass

Does your lawn need a little TLC? Whether it’s the harsh winter frost or the wet season, maintaining a vibrant and patchless lawn requires some effort. But fear not, as learning how to plant grass seed on an existing lawn can be an enjoyable task that even your kids can get involved in. Picture yourself hosting weekend barbecue parties, playing with your pets, or simply basking in the sun on a lush, green lawn. If you want to know the steps, timing, methods, and expert tips on adding grass seed to your lawn, keep reading until the end.

Can You Resuscitate Dead Grass with Grass Seeds?

Yes, you absolutely can seed an existing, lifeless lawn. However, before you make any moves, it’s important to play the role of a grass doctor and determine the cause of the dead spots. Is it shaded? Too soggy? Affected by disease? Or perhaps your furry friend has left their mark. Conducting a simple diagnostic routine will help prevent future recurrences. Once you’ve identified the problem, it’s time to reseed. Read on to learn how to plant a new lawn over the old one.

Best Ways to Plant Grass Seeds Over an Existing Lawn

So, how do you go about planting grass seed in an existing lawn? It’s actually quite simple, and there are three main techniques you can use to add grass seed:

Planting by Hand

If you only need to cover a few spots, hand-sowing is the simplest method. Just take a handful of seeds and spread them over the dead patches. It’s a great opportunity to get your kids involved in some basic gardening chores.

Further reading:  Transforming Sloping Areas with the Perfect Plant Selection

Seed Spreader

For more extensive coverage, you can use a seed spreader. This handy device allows you to evenly sprinkle grass seeds on your lawn. It’s as easy as pushing a rolling suitcase, and it controls the seeding rate to ensure the right amount of seeds per minute. Unless you have a massive lawn, a seed spreader might be unnecessary.


If you have hilly lawns or nutrient-poor soil, hydroseeding is an advanced method worth considering. It involves blasting a slurry of grass seeds mixed with nutrients, plant hormones, fertilizers, fillers, and water onto the site. This ensures the best possible establishment of your new lawn.

How to Plant Grass Seed on an Existing Lawn

Now that you’ve chosen the method that suits your needs, it’s time to start seeding your existing lawn. Planting grass is as simple as sprinkling salt, but gathering your supplies and familiarizing yourself with the steps is essential for successful reseeding.

Supplies You’ll Need

To seed over an existing lawn, you’ll need the following supplies, possibly with some additional equipment for larger areas:

  • Garden fork
  • Rake
  • Grass seed
  • Sand
  • Fertilizer
  • Additional equipment: Seed spreader, hydroseeding pump

Visit your local garden depot and gather your supplies. Who knows, you might even make some new gardening friends?

Step-by-Step Guide

Don’t worry if you’re new to this; we’ve got you covered with a step-by-step guide to reseeding your lawn:

  1. Mow the Grass: Start by mowing the overgrown grass. This will help the overseeds thrive better. While it’s possible to put grass seed on top of grass, it’s generally best to remove the existing grass to ensure proper seedling establishment.

  2. Rake the Clippings: Rake the grass clippings to tidy up and clean your lawn. This will prevent heat generation during decay, which can hinder grass seed germination. Leaving plant debris can also create a breeding ground for pathogenic fungi.

  3. Aerate the Soil: Good root establishment requires well-aerated soil. For small areas, tilling the ground with a hoe or garden fork will suffice. However, for larger areas, consider using mechanical plugs or spike aerators.

  4. Fertilize the Lawn: The amount of fertilizer you’ll need depends on your soil’s fertility. If the soil lacks nutrients, adding a few handfuls of complete fertilizer can greatly improve grass seed growth. Alternatively, applying a thin layer of compost or earthworm castings will also enhance the soil’s condition.

  5. Sprinkle the Seeds: Once the soil is prepared, it’s time to sow the seeds. You can do this manually or use simple gardening devices. If you have a limited quantity of seeds, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for optimal coverage.

  6. Water Your Lawn: Immediately after sowing the seeds, give them a good soak. Keep the ground moist but not soggy to ensure proper soil establishment. In hotter climates, watering up to three times a day is essential until the seedlings have sprouted. Once the growth appears lush, reduce the watering frequency to every 7-10 days, depending on the soil moisture.

Further reading:  Create a Breathtaking Indoor Oasis with Plants Sporting Vibrant Purple and Green Leaves

It’s always better to have a guide, even if you have a green thumb. After all, gardeners are always learning!

Planting in Spring

When it comes to timing, planting grass seed depends on the plant species and their growth requirements. Bermuda, Centipede, Zoysia, and Cynodon grasses thrive best when planted in spring. Wait until the last spring frost has occurred to avoid killing the freshly germinated roots. The ideal temperature range is 50-70°F (10-21°C). The spring rain will also help keep the soil consistently moist, resulting in better and faster growth of the overseeds.

Planting in Fall

Fall planting follows a similar approach to spring planting. Make sure the average daytime temperature doesn’t exceed 70°F (21°C) to prevent heat damage. However, don’t delay overseeding until the first frost date. For cool-season turfs like Bentgrass, fine fescue, Kentucky Bluegrass, or Perennial Ryegrass, fall planting is highly recommended.

Expert Tips for Planting a New Lawn Over an Old One

If you’re feeling a bit nervous about reseeding your lawn and worried about making planting mistakes, we have some helpful tips to guide you through the process:

Plant at Night

To reduce the risk of disease and heat stress, it’s best to plant grass seeds in the evening, at dusk, or late afternoon. This timing also ensures that the seeds won’t dry out too quickly, especially in tropical climates.

Pre-Humidify the Soil

Moistening the lawn before spreading the seeds can aid in the germination process. This step is optional but can contribute to faster seedling emergence.

Pre-Germinate the Seeds

For a faster germination process, you can soak the seeds in lukewarm water for 30 minutes before overseeding. This encourages fast germination as the seed coat has already absorbed water. Keep in mind that wet seeds may be challenging to sow using a seed spreader that requires dry seeds.

Further reading:  Growing and Savoring the Wonder of Rhubarb

Use High-Quality Seeds

Investing in high-quality seeds ensures a higher sprouting rate. Coated seeds are also available, containing nutrients, hormones, and fillers that promote healthy growth. These seeds are larger in size and less appealing to rodents and birds.

Avoid Burying Seeds

While it’s important to lightly rake the overseeds to spread them evenly, avoid burying the seeds too deep. Deep planting may hinder or prevent germination, as seeds require light stimulation to sprout.


Can You Put Grass Seed on Top of Existing Grass?

Yes, you can seed directly on top of existing grass, but the results may not meet your expectations. The grass may grow thinly, and the seeds may not sprout uniformly.

When Should You Add Grass Seed to the Lawn?

Seeds can be sown in either fall or spring, depending on the growth requirements of your turf species. Cool-loving grasses should be planted in fall, while warm-loving ones should be sown in spring.

Should You Put Topsoil over Grass Seed?

No, burying the seeds can hinder their germination rate, as they require light stimulation. The maximum depth should be less than the seed size, meaning they should barely be covered.

Will Grass Seed Grow if You Just Throw It on the Ground?

Yes, but the results may not be satisfying. For optimal seed-to-soil contact, it’s recommended to lightly rake the soil and properly prepare it to ensure the emergence of a thicker turf.

With these tips, a beautiful lawn is guaranteed. Grab a blanket, head outdoors, and enjoy a sunny day. After all your hard work, you deserve it.

Ames Farm Center