How To Plant Grass Seed On Hard Soil

How To Plant Grass Seed On Hard Soil

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Rebecca
April 26, 2022
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If you want to plant a beautiful lawn in some neglected areas of your yard but the soil is hard, don’t immediately write off the idea! While it might not look like it could sprout beautiful green grass, with some TLC hard soil can be transformed into a beautiful garden.

How can you prepare hard soil for planting? One of the most important things you need to do before planting in hard soil is breaking it up so that it has more space for nutrients, water, and oxygen to reach the plants. 

With this in mind, read on to learn how to plant grass seed on hard soil. We’ve got everything you need to know to make this a success and avoid pitfalls during the process!

How To Plant Grass Seed On Hard Soil: 5 Easy Steps To Follow

Test your soil

Test your soil

Before you go ahead and try to plant grass seeds in your soil, you should test your soil. This is crucial because the soil you’re dealing with might not have all the nutrients your grass seeds need to grow.

You can purchase soil testing kits online (GreenIQ has a useful buying guide on the matter, “Best Soil Testing Kit For Lawn” which you should read).

Aerate your soil 

Aerate your soil 

One of the biggest problems with hard soil is that it’s compacted and so it doesn’t have enough space for grass to set down roots and pull up nutrients from the soil. This is why it needs to be aerated.

You can do this with a core aerator, a device that you can rent from a gardening store. This type of machine essentially digs holes in the ground so that it can pull up plugs of soil containing clay, thatch, and roots to loosen the ground. 

Till the soil

Till the soil

Once you’ve aerated your soil, you should till it. This means breaking it up, turning it, and mixing in organic matter. 

  • Start by removing debris on the surface of the soil with a rake.
  • Break up and turn the soil with the use of a rototiller. This will dig out soil up to 12 inches in depth, which is beneficial to helping grassroots penetrate the ground. 
  • Once you’ve turned the soil, you want to leave it alone for about two days. Then you can finish off the tilling process by applying about three inches of compost. Make sure you mix it with the soil well. The compost is important to nourish the soil with nutrients your grass will need to take root and grow healthily. 

Important note: tilling can be problematic because it brings up weeds, so be wary of this. You will also have to take your time leveling the soil before you can go ahead and plant your grass seeds.

This is important to ensure that the ground is nice and smooth so that your lawn can grow properly. 

Plant your grass

Plant your grass

Now you’re ready to start planting grass! Note that you should avoid sprinkling grass seeds on your hard soil if it’s unprepared. This is a recipe for failure. If some seeds do manage to grow, you’ll have a patchy lawn, which is definitely what you want to avoid.

Once you have prepared your soil by following the previous steps in this article, you can spread the seeds all over it.

  • Use a rake to ensure the seeds and soil are mixed well together. Remember, the seeds need to be in as much contact with the soil as they can in order for them to germinate.
  • Apply a one-inch layer of topsoil. This will ensure the soil stays warm and moist, which the seeds need to germinate. 

Water the soil

Water the soil

You want to water your soil so that this will jumpstart the germination process. But, don’t water the soil too much as you don’t want it to become waterlogged.

How do you strike the perfect balance? A good tip to follow is that you keep the top three inches of soil wet. Then, water the soil about two or three times per week.

Try to water your garden early in the morning so that the grass can dry out throughout the day, which will prevent it from becoming too wet, which can attract disease and fungus. 

Extra Tips For Planting Grass Seed On Hard Soil 

Extra Tips For Planting Grass Seed On Hard Soil 

You’ve now got the basics you need in order to plant a beautiful lawn on hard soil. Here are some other tips to bear in mind so that you can achieve your goal.

  • Choose the right time of year in which to plant your grass. When you plant grass will depend on whether you have cool-season or warm-season grass. A warm-season grass, such as St. Augustine grass, zoysia grass, and carpet grass, should be planted during late spring or early in the summer. Cool-season grass, such as Kentucky bluegrass, annual ryegrass, and fine fescue, should be planted in the fall when the daily temperature is an average of 75 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  • Water your lawn enough. After planting seeds, make sure you keep the soil moist until the seeds germinate. This is essential to ensure they can take root and start growing. Dry conditions aren’t conducive to seed germination. 
  • Aerate your soil about twice a year. It’s not enough to aerate the soil before planting grass seed and then never doing it again. You should do it regularly so that you prevent the soil from becoming compacted, which will stunt the growth of your grass. You should try to aerate your grass when it’s experiencing active growth and when the soil is dry. 
  • Reach for fertilizer. Ensure that you use fertilizer every six to eight weeks after you’ve planted grass in your yard. This will help to continue nourishing the soil with nutrients.
  • Ensure that your grass gets enough sunlight. Try to cut back trees or bushes that are casting too much shade on the grass as this will prevent your new grass from growing.
  • Follow healthy mowing habits. When mowing grass that has started to grow in the hard soil, you should let it grow to the height of about three inches. Don’t cut it too short as that can weaken the grass blades and make the grass more vulnerable to disease and fungus. You should cut cool-season grass to approximately two inches and warm-season grass to about one or two inches.  

How Long Will It Take Your Grass Seed To Grow?

How Long Will It Take Your Grass Seed To Grow?

Generally, you’ll have to wait for between a few days to a month for your grass to sprout. How long your new lawn will take to start growing will depend on various factors. These include the following:

  • Temperature. If you’ve planted grass during cooler temperatures,  you might have to wait a bit longer for the grass to start growing. Planting during warmer temperatures will be more conducive to seed germination.
  • Season. Earlier, we touched on how you have to plant cool-season and warm-season grasses at different times. Bear this in mind before you plant the grass seed. If you go ahead and plant a specific grass seed without taking into account the season, then you won’t see it grow.
  • Sunlight. As we mentioned earlier, you might have to cut back trees or bushes that are casting shade across your lawn site, otherwise, your seeds won’t be able to germinate. Note, however, that you should consider how much shade you have when purchasing grass seed so you can choose a grass type that thrives in this condition. 

Related Questions 

What grass seed thrives in shady conditions?

What grass seed thrives in shady conditions?

Cool-season grasses can grow in cool climates. Both annual and perennial ryegrass grow well in shady conditions.

What’s a good tool to use when planting grass seed in a large garden? 

A rotary or broadcast spreader is useful when planting grass seed in large areas. These spreaders fan out the seeds in all directions so that you can achieve uniform coverage.  

Conclusion 

If you have some bare spots of soil in your garden that you’d love to fill in with grass, you can achieve this even if your soil is hard. Yes, really! You just need to follow some important tips.

In this article, we’ve featured some important advice to follow so you can plant grass seed on hard soil with success. Here’s to a gorgeous new lawn!

Resources:

Rebecca

Rebecca Vargas is an experienced gardener and landscaper and has been rendering professional services for many years. Her services cover both private homes and commercial properties. Leveraging that rich experience, Rebecca Vargas now dedicates a chunk of time to show just about anyone how to maintain their garden and yard, whether at home or workplace. GreenIQ is his way of reaching and teaching millions of homeowners across the globe about proper gardening and lawn care practices.