How to Plant Grass Seeds on Hard Dirt? – Step-By-Step Guide

Having a lush green lawn on hard dirt shouldn’t be just a dream anymore. Many homeowners have given up on growing their grass because their yard is filled with hard soil.

It’s understandable why many people find it challenging to grow their lawn on hard ground, but I come bearing good tidings. In this article, we’ll go through how you too can have your dream lawn even on that hard soil-filled yard.

These tips on growing your lawn on hard dirt have been tested and confirmed severally by different lawn owners.

How to Plant Grass Seeds on Hard Dirt

Causes of Hard Dirt

Hard dirt is when the ground is made up of clay and or compacted too much closing air and water spaces.

Knowing the cause of the hard ground in your yard is the first step to solving the problem. It’ll also help you to avoid some of the mistakes that caused the hard dirt.

Causes of Hard Dirt

  • Clay soil: Clay soil is naturally compacted and becomes very hard once moisture dries out a bit. If your yard is filled with clay, it’ll most likely be a hard ground. A hard soil made of clay is hardly caused by the mistake of the homeowner; nevertheless, it can be remedied.
  • Constant foot traffic: This is another common cause of hard ground. Regular foot traffic in a particular area of your soil will over time, make the ground there hard and compacted. 
  • Neglect: Land that has been neglected for long might become hard. Tilling and shuffling the soil will keep the soil aerated and loosed.

How to Plant Grass Seed on Hard Dirt?

Grass on Hard Dirt

Planting your grass on hard dirt is complicated, but it can be done. It needs extra dedication and commitment to pull off.

Here are steps to follow to improve your hard soil and grow your beautiful lawn.

Do a soil test

Before doing anything on your hard ground, you need to run a soil analysis on your land to know its deficiencies. To get a reasonably accurate sample, dig up about ten different places in your yard. Take a small portion from each of them and mix, now take a small sample of the mixed soil to a soil testing center near you.

A soil analysis will tell you the amount of clay, sand, silt and even the amount of organic matter in the soil.

Aerate the topsoil 

An aerator is a machine that creates tiny cylindrical holes in the ground. It is used to create air and water spaces in the ground.

A hard ground does not have enough spaces in it for air and water storage. This aerator will create those spaces and make it easier to plant.

Usually, aeration is followed by adding compost to the topsoil. In most situations, the soil is ready for planting. Bear in mind that you’ll need to aerate every year for your soil to lose its hardness completely.

Till the hard ground

In severe soil hardness, just aerating the soil would not be enough to prepare the ground for planting. In such a condition, reducing the hardness of the earth is needed. 

You need to till about 6-10 inches into the ground. You can do this till by renting a machine called the rototiller.

Mix with fertilizer

Mix topsoil with fertiliser

Mix your tilled topsoil with a large amount of compost or grass seed fertilizer in the right amount gotten from the soil analysis done.

After tilling and mixing the soil, you have to level the land several times and probably leave it to settle for some time. Use a wet lawn roller on the ground to make it firm.

Select the right seed

Selecting a viable seed is as vital as any step listed above. After preparing your hard soil for planting, you need to get the seed right if not, you’ll still not get optimum growth.

Figure out when you want to plant, the amount of time you’re willing to commit, your soil type and your region. This will help you choose the right seed.

If you’re still in doubt, seek help from your local extension store for advice on the best seed to plant.

Read more: Does Grass Seed Go Bad: How To Properly Store Them?

Plant your grass seeds and cover with topsoil

After you’ve selected the seeds you want to plant, you can go ahead to plant using a broadcaster.

Divide your seeds into two and plant one set in rows along your mowing lines and the other set in rows perpendicular to the first set.

Cover the seeds with quality topsoil bought from a reputable company. Make sure the topsoil is natural and has not been sprayed with chemicals.

Water properly

Water properly early in the morning and late in the evening. Water just enough, the aim is for the soil to be moist and not soggy. 

Water for just about 1-2 inches into the soil at the initial stage. Keep watering at the rate till germination occurs. You need to start reducing the frequency of watering but increasing the depth.


Let your grass grow to about a height of 3 inches before mowing. Remember, you do not want to mow off more than 1/3 inches at a time.

Cool-season grasses should be kept at the height of about 2 inches while warm-season grasses at a height of 1-1.5 inches.

Use a sharp blade to cut the grasses; you want to slice the grass and not scatter it.

Grass Seeds Most Suitable for Hard Dirt

Even after aerating the soil and covering the topsoil, it’ll take some years for your land to lose its hardness completely. That is why it is important to choose seeds that have a higher chance of growing in hard dirt.

Here are a few of them

  • X-Seed Ultra Premium
  • Pennington Smart Seed Dense Shade
  • Kentucky 31 Tall Fescue
  • Zenith Zoysia Grass Seed

Factors That Affect The Growth of Grass Seeds

The Growth of Grass Seeds

Generally, grass seeds everywhere are affected by some particular factors. These factors can either hamper your grass seed growth or promote it.

It is necessary to know these factors and choose seeds and conditions best suited to you.

  • Temperature 
  • Sunlight
  • Season

Following these laid down steps will take you from nagging about your hard dirt to enjoying your serene lawn with your family.

About Jennifer Igra

Growing up in Brooklyn, New York City known for it’s green gardens. Jennifer, a 30 year old gardener and green living fanatic started Igra World to share her gardening journey and increase gardening awareness among masses. Follow Igra World to improve your gardening skills.

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