1. Investigate the site. Make sure the ground gently slopes (a minimum of 1%) away from your house to prevent water from entering the basement.
2. Modify the soil. If the native soil is extremely rocky, compacted or poorly drained, you will need to make modifications. In poor quality soils, adding 4 to 6 inches of a loam and compost mix will be beneficial.
3. Apply lime (if necessary). Lime is immobile in the soil and should be rototilled into the upper 4 to 6 inches of soil before seeding. An acidic soil will require the application of palletized lime to decrease the soil acidity. The presence of pine or oak trees is a good indicator of a naturally acidic soil.
4. Rototill, or otherwise loosen soil and incorporate lime into the upper 6 inches of soil. Moist (not wet) soil rototills very well. Tilling dry soil will damage the soil structure.
5. Rake and remove any large stones, sticks, or other debris visible on the soil surface. Smooth out the soil surface, knocking down any high spots and filling in any low ones.
6. Firm soil surface. Rolling or watering helps settle the loosened soil.
7. Apply fertilizer. Rake a starter-type fertilizer into the upper inch of soil to be sure that your new grass will receive the proper nutrients.
8. Seed. Select a seed mixture containing improved varieties well suited to your lawn. Broadcast seed uniformly over the area using a drop or rotary spreader. Achieve uniformity by seeding in opposite directions after setting the spreader to deliver at ½ the desired rate.
9. Rake. Using very light pressure, rake the seed into the upper ¼ inch of soil. A spring rake works well for this. While some seeds will remain visible on the surface (birds do not eat enough seed to ruin a seeding), raking is more effective than burying the seed to deeply.
10. Control crabgrass. (spring seedings). Unless prevented, crabgrass often predominates in a spring lawn seeding. Herbicides are available that stop crabgrass from germinating.
11. Mulch (optional). Apply weed-free straw (salt marsh hay) uniformly over the new seeding to conserve moisture and reduce erosion on sloping ground. Apply approximately 1 bale per 1000 square feet.
12. Water. Keep the soil surface moist to prevent the seeds from drying out. This often requires light (5-10 minutes), frequent (twice a day) watering for 2 to 4 weeks after seeding. After 4 weeks water once every other day for 10-20 minutes. Once the lawn has become established, (about 8 weeks) reduce watering to 1 inch per week. To water accurately, place a coffee can under your sprinkler and time how long it takes to fill up to 1 inch.