How To Prep Your Lawn For Grass Seed

It’s like I have my own personal Alseed. Yes, that’s a True Blood reference. I totally called John “Alseed” the entire time that he seeded our freshly leveled and ready-for-grass backyard. Why? Because I’m corny like that. He rolled his eyes but secretly I think he liked it. What dude is going to complain about being likened to this guy? Although I tend to like my men tall, dork, and handsome. Which is why John = even better than Alcide for me (yes that’s the correct way to spell his name, I just went with Alseed for the pun). But back to the freshly cleared backyard (you can read about all the phases that led to the “now” in the pic below here, here, and here).

We get lots of questions about how we seed/what we use/how we spread it, so here we go. First we raked the entire area we were seeding to fluff up the soil, get rid of rampant acorns, etc.

Then we added some top soil in a few not-as-level-as-we’d-like areas where we had dug things out (like liriope, weeds, etc)…

Then Alseed did his thang. Look at that carefree leg-in-the-air technique.

John just rolled around the yard, broadcasting the seed with our spreader (from Home Depot a few years back). We like to use Scott’s Tall Fescue Mix, which is a blend that’s formulated to work really well in our area, especially in shaded lots like ours (it’s the same thing we used to seed our first house‘s front and backyard after clearing & readying them).

Not only did we seed the areas where we dug, we just went over the whole backyard to fill in any bare spots or patchy spots where grass was already growing, but might have been thinned out. This is called overseeding. In an ideal world, overseeding each fall can lead to a super awesome lush yard without pumping it with tons of chemicals since keeping a yard lush helps to crowd out any weeds that might want to grow (a thinned out yard is a lot more susceptible to them popping up everywhere).

Oh and we swept the seed that got sprayed on the brick paths into the dirt so we wouldn’t have a whole bunch of grass springing up along the bricks. So that’s a tip if your broadcaster gets seeds all over an area that you don’t want to get grassy, like a walkway. Just sweep those babies away (optional: when done, dust your shoulders off a la Jay-Z).

Only about four days later (with quick 15 minute watering sessions each evening, just to give those little seeds a chance to sprout) we saw this:

Houston, we have liftoff! It usually takes us about a week to notice any green stuff sprouting up, but thanks to some near perfect grass-growing weather (not too cold at night, and not too hot during the day – with a fair amount of rain) we ended up with this surprisingly lush result just a little over a week later:

The funny thing is that I didn’t do a thing to the after pics in photoshop after sizing them down and slapping a “now” on them (didn’t green up the grass or up the saturation). That’s just the amazing neon-green power of fresh baby grass. Hubba hubba. Although the day I snapped the afters also happened to be after some great rain and it was a less blindingly sunny than the day of the before shots, so that might explain why other bushes and trees actually seem greener and less blown out than they do in those before shots.

Every day Clara and I look out the living room window at the backyard and I tell her that when the grass grows in she and Burger will have an awesome place to play. She loves peering out the window to check her “play grass.” See that big square window on the left of the pics below? That’s our watching-the-grass-grow window.

And yes, there are a whole bunch of bushes that need a trimmy-trim (doesn’t that sound like something Tom Haverford would say?).

Here’s the view back at the house from the end of that path. Oh and check out the vine on the tree that we cut here. See how it’s dropping leaves/thinning out? Woot!

One more b & a. Just because I can’t help myself. Man grass never looks as green as fresh new baby grass, does it? Me-ow.

So there it is, four phases of backyard upgrades that added up to one pretty amazing difference. We’ll reseed again in the spring, just to help everything get nice and thick (and to help keep those weeds away naturally). Then it’ll just be maintenance (hand-pulling the occasional weed, mowing, etc), which seemed to work well at our first house. What are you guys up to outside? Is there any last minute hope-it’s-not-too-late grass seeding going on? Or any other multi-phase projects that are finally winding down? It’s nice to tie up this backyard project just as we dive into basement stuff… and after that we have the hall bathroom in our sights!


  1. says

    Holy frijoles! That looks amazingly better with a little green fuzz! We’re thinking of overseeding our yard, too. It’s curretly planted with St. Augustine, a non-reproducing grass you have to lay as sod. Translation: $$$. So to fill in the bare spots (courtesy of our puppies) we’re going to overseed!

    PS. Tall, dork, and handsome is the way to go. Waaaaaay more fun!

  2. Brenda says

    1. That pic of John seeding is priceless.
    2. Trimmy-trim is TOTALLY what Tom Haverford would say.
    3. This post is a prime example of why I love YHL so much. You put down grass seed, and it grew. Could be the most boring post ever. But you made it fun and funny and exciting!

  3. says

    It looks so good! Our house was empty for two years before we bought it. Weed trees were so pervasive throughout our flower beds that we had to pull EVERYTHING out. Now the beds are empty because we’re still finding little trees popping up and we’re waiting until spring to plant new bushes. Essentially, right now we’re “those neighbors.”

  4. Leigh Anne says

    Oh and completely unrelated and weird that I’m asking, but, do you drive? As in, do you have a license? I’ve been meaning to ask this since the last video interview you and John did. He says at one point “since Sherry doesn’t drive…”

    • says

      OH yes, I have a license but I only drove the last year of high school when I lived in Jersey and then I moved to Manhattan so I sold my car and didn’t drive for 6 years while I lived in NYC. Then we moved to Richmond but since I worked from home and we were on a budget we got one car and John used it to get to work and I just worked from home and didn’t need it. 6.5 years later I have probably driven a handful of times (so I can do it in an emergency) but John’s the primary driver. So weird, right? But it totally works for us!


    • Nicole says

      You need to just go for it, Sherry. Just start driving! It’ll be so worth it. You probably aren’t even realizing what you’re missing right now! P.S. See you in Boston on the 7th!

  5. says

    I think my jaw hit the floor. What an amazing difference in just a week! I so bow to you guys for your clearing abilities. I think we would look at what needed to be cleared, try to dig/hack the offender out, give up and never look at it again. Oh wait, I don’t think we would…we’ve done it! *blush*

    Nice grass spreading jig John! HA!

  6. says

    WOW!! it looks awesome! I love the view looking back at your house–yall have really made a great, big difference by puling those crazy bushes and crazy grasses. :)

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