If you're planning on planting a new lawn, you might be looking into different options for your climate. For example, in colder climates such as Maine, you might consider Bluegrass. A warmer climate like Arizona might be suitable for Bermuda grass. In the Southeast, Carpet grass and Centipede grass do best, while Bent grass does well just about anywhere in the contiguous 48 states. You also need to know how your lawn will be used. When buying, ask about its hardiness for foot traffic and play if you have kids or plan to entertain. If you have large trees, make sure it does well in shade.
Having a lawn will increase your property value, but will also give you a place for outdoor entertaining, a play space for kids and pets, and a great view. But it can be tough to predict what the cost to seed a lawn will be. It seems like a pretty straightforward job, but there are a few things to consider. Your first step should be to talk to a reputable professional who can give you more of an idea of the best course of action for your specific space. Once you find a professional, then you can address the factors that will impact the cost.
Cost to Re-Seed a Lawn
Obviously, the larger your yard, the more it will cost. The type will also affect your cost, as will the equipment you need. If patching a small area, a small bag and an inexpensive hand caster should be enough. A larger area or a complete re-seeding of your whole yard might require a wheeled caster (or tractor-pulled if a very large area), shovels, rakes, and several bags. Here are some typical costs for some commonly sized yards (professional labor not included):
Up to 1,000 sq ft - $90.00 to $170.00
1,000 to 2,000 sq ft – approx. $270.00
2,000 to 3,000 sq ft – approx. $420.00
3,000 to 4,000 sq ft – approx. $525.00
How much seed you’ll need depends on what kind you’re getting. For example, a “sun & shade” mix takes about 6 pounds for a new 1,000 square foot lawn, 3 pounds for seeding over an existing lawn. Ryegrass takes about 10 pounds for a new lawn and 5 pounds for an existing lawn.
Grass is available in small 3- to 7-pound bags aimed at patching lawns to 20-pound bags for completely re-doing a lawn. The cost depends on size and type. A 3-pound bag of sun and shade mixture cost about $15.00. A 7-pound bag of Kentucky Bluegrass costs about $40.00. A 20-pound bag of Northeast grass seed (a mixture of species hardy for the temperature and suitable for a general use lawn) costs about $75.00.
Just buying and spreading it on your lawn isn’t enough. There are steps to be done whether you’re putting in a new lawn or overseeding an existing one. The best planting time is fall, when it’s not hot enough to dry them out but will still give a mix of sunshine and rain as they germinate. To plant your lawn, read the following:
Test Soil pH – Testing the acidity or alkalinity of your soil will help you get a good lawn by giving it a good place to grow. Test kits are available for $4.00 to $34.00, depending on how fancy you want to get. The average $12.00 one does just fine for most people. You want a pH reading of 6.0 to 7.5. If your soil is below 6.0, you’ll add lime in later. If it’s above 7.5, you’ll add sulfur.
Remove Old Lawn, Rocks, and Clumps – Remove all traces of your old lawn, paying attention to weeds in particular. Using a spade, dig out any large rocks that can impede root growth. Afterwards, use a rototiller to break up packed clumps of dirt to a depth of about 6 inches.
Add Sand and Compost – Tilling in an inch of sand to the soil helps with drainage and keeps the ground porous. If you have no drainage issues, you don’t need sand. Not all sand is equal; look for “horticulture sand” or “builder’s sand”.
Amend the Soil – From #1 above, if you have to add lime or sulfur, now is when you do it. Use a walk-behind caster and spread it out evenly according to the package directions. Follow this up with a casting of fertilizer according to the manufacturer’s directions.
Rake It In – With an iron rake, work the lime/sulfur and fertilizer into the top 1 inch of the soil. When it’s mixed in, rake the yard level.
Seed – For most average lawns, a hand-caster is used to spread it evenly on the ground. Larger yards might require a walk-behind caster.
Rake It In Again – Using a plastic rake, flip it over and use the back of the rake to gently work it into the soil. Use soft, gentle strokes to avoid redistributing the seed. Don’t use a roller to press them in because that will form depressions where too much water can collect.
Water – Water them with a gentle fan spray so as not to wash anything away. For large areas, set up multiple sprinkler so that everything gets watered evenly.
All that prep work can seem like a bit much. After all, it can take a DIYer almost a whole day just to get the lawn ready, and a professional team only a little less time. Why not just throw down new seed?
To begin with, soil preparation is very important so that the roots can spread out. Rocks and tightly-packed soil and dirt can prevent roots from spreading out and taking hold. It keeps them from reaching vital nutrients and causes weak, sickly grass or bare spots. It can also hamper drainage.
Testing the pH is critical for a healthy lawn. If your soil is incapable of supporting a healthy lawn, no amount or type will make a difference. Testing should be done every couple of years for healthy soil just to stay on top of things. For soil that is being repaired, test once a year several months before any new planting (in the summer for most lawns in the US).
Fertilizing feeds the soil and helps it feed the lawn. While nature will handle things most of the year, suburban lawns aren’t nature’s ideal conditions. Therefore, fertilizing should be done four times per year.
Aerating your lawn allows sunlight and nutrients to get in past compacted soil. Done once a year (usually early spring or early fall), this allows water to get past any thatching or compacted soil and to the roots. This is most often done on lawns with heavy foot traffic. While many aerating tools simply punch holes in the ground, the ones that remove plugs are more highly recommended as they don’t create more compacting.
The cost of a bag depends on two factors: how much and who’s selling it. Scott’s is the most well-known brand on the market, but other brands such as Pennington and Jonathan Green are receiving good reviews for 2016.
Jonathan Green Black Beauty Ultra 25 lbs. - $109.00
Jonathan Green Fast Grow 15 lbs. - $37.00
Jonathan Green Shady Nooks 7 lbs. - $35.00
As well as the above, there are eco-friendly options as well. Eco-friendly grass seed is organically farmed, ensuring that your lawn hasn’t been treated with chemicals. It can also mean alternatives to traditional lawns such as herbal lawns, native grasses, and hardy ground cover. Drought-tolerant grasses such as Buffalo grass require little watering or mowing, and some grasses like Weeping Lovegrass do well on hillsides and help control erosion. Sedges are available in all climate zones and create the look of a lawn without the high maintenance. For each of these, contacting a local expert is important to getting the right eco-friendly lawn put in for the right cost.
Reseeding or overseeding your lawn is an easy, if involved, DIY project. Hiring a professional can increase your cost $250.00 to $350.00. The average cost for hiring a professional is around $700.00 including prep work, soil amendment, and everything down to the first watering. If you decide to handle this project yourself, here are some tips to help:
Test your soil early. This will give you time to figure out how much you’ll need of what.
Know your growing area so you know what kinds of grasses grow best in your region.
Get seeds suited to what you intend to use your lawn for. If it’s a playground for the kids, you want a tough, hardy grass that holds up to foot traffic. If it’s for appearance, a soft, lush grass, not as hardy but strikingly beautiful, will do.
Note how much shade your yard has. Some grass doesn’t do well in shade; some doesn’t do well in blazing sunlight.
Decide if you should seed or overseed. If your lawn has just turned brown and has some patchy spots, overseeding is less costly. If the whole lawn has “gone south”, as they say, reseeding is likely the only thing that can save it.
If you only have a patch or two, spot-seed only in those areas.
Mix it with damp sand a day prior. This will help it germinate faster and hold them in place in the event of wind.
Water with a gentle spray 2-3 times per day until they germinate, then water according to your normal schedule.
Reseeding your lawn is a good way to give your whole house a facelift without touching the building. A lush, healthy lawn adds to curb appeal if you plan to sell, and adds to your personal pride and comfort of you intend to stay rooted right where you are!