How To Plant New Lawn Over Old Lawn [ Full Guide ]

Planting a new lawn over an existing one can be a convenient and efficient way to revitalize your outdoor space without the hassle of completely removing the old grass. Whether you’re dealing with patchy, thinning grass or simply want to switch to a different type of turf, the process of planting new lawn over old lawn requires careful preparation and strategic implementation. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the step-by-step process of planting a new lawn over an old one, from choosing the right time to preparing the old lawn and testing the soil to ensure optimal conditions for new growth.

Quick Answer: How To Plant New Lawn Over Old Lawn

Planting a new lawn over an old lawn involves several key steps:

  • Choosing the right time to plant
  • Preparing the old lawn
  • Testing the soil
  • Planting the new lawn

Choosing The Right Time To Plant

Timing is crucial when it comes to planting a new lawn over an existing one. The ideal time to undertake this project is during the growing season of the grass variety you plan to establish. This is typically in the early fall for cool-season grasses and late spring for warm-season grasses. Planting during these periods allows the new grass to take advantage of optimal growing conditions and establish itself before extreme weather sets in.

Preparing The Old Lawn

Preparing the old lawn is a critical step in the process of planting new grass. Start by mowing the existing grass as short as possible, allowing the new seeds to make direct contact with the soil. It’s important to remove any debris, thatch, or dead grass to create an ideal environment for the new seeds to germinate. This can be achieved by raking the old lawn thoroughly to loosen the soil and remove any obstacles that could hinder the growth of the new grass.

Testing The Soil

Before planting the new grass, it’s essential to test the soil to assess its pH level and nutrient content. A soil test will reveal whether the existing soil provides the necessary conditions for the new lawn to thrive. Based on the test results, you can make necessary amendments to the soil by adding lime to adjust the pH level or incorporating organic matter to enhance the nutrient content. This step is crucial for setting the stage for healthy and vigorous new growth.

Planting a new lawn over an old lawn can breathe new life into your outdoor space, providing a fresh and vibrant landscape for years to come. By carefully choosing the right time to plant, preparing the old lawn, and testing the soil to ensure optimal conditions, you can set the stage for successful establishment of new grass. Through these essential steps, you can achieve a lush and resilient lawn that enhances the beauty and functionality of your outdoor environment.

Removing Existing Grass And Weeds

Planting a new lawn over an old lawn is a common practice when the existing lawn is in poor condition or requires an upgrade. Whether you are looking to improve the overall appearance of your yard or want to replace a damaged or weed-infested lawn, the process of planting a new lawn over an existing one can save you time and effort compared to completely starting from scratch.

Before you begin, it’s important to assess the health of your existing lawn and identify any underlying issues such as poor drainage or compacted soil. Additionally, you’ll need to consider the type of grass seed that is best suited for your region and the specific conditions of your yard.

The first step in planting a new lawn over an old one is to remove the existing grass and weeds. This process ensures that the new grass seed has a clean and fertile surface to establish roots and grow effectively. There are several methods you can choose from to remove the existing vegetation:

1. Manual Removal

If you have a small area to work on or prefer a hands-on approach, manually removing the existing grass and weeds is a viable option. Use a sharp shovel or a sod cutter to cut through the existing turf and lift it from the ground. Ensure that you remove the entire grass layer, including the roots, to prevent regrowth. Additionally, manually remove any visible weeds and their roots.

2. Chemical Removal

When dealing with larger areas or a heavily infested lawn, using herbicides can be an effective solution. Choose an herbicide specifically formulated for grass and weed removal, preferably one that contains glyphosate. Follow the instructions on the product carefully to ensure safe and effective application. Apply the herbicide evenly over the entire lawn, targeting the existing grass and weeds. Allow the herbicide to work according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

After a few days, when the grass and weeds have died, manually remove the dead vegetation. Rake or use a sod cutter to lift and discard the dead turf. Be cautious to completely remove all the dead grass to prevent it from impeding the growth of the new lawn.

Leveling The Surface

After removing the existing grass and weeds, it’s essential to level the surface to create a uniform and even area for the new lawn. This step is crucial for preventing water pooling and ensuring proper drainage. Here’s how you can level the surface:

RELATED  How To Plant Christmas Tree [ Full Guide ]

1. Soil Test

Before leveling the surface, it’s important to conduct a soil test to determine its pH level and nutrient content. A soil test will help you understand if any amendments are required to create an optimal growing environment for your new lawn. Test kits can be purchased from garden centers or you can contact your local cooperative extension office for assistance.

2. Fill Low Spots

If there are any low spots or depressions in the existing lawn, you’ll need to fill them to create a level surface. Use topsoil or a mixture of topsoil and compost to fill in the low areas. Spread the soil evenly and compact it gently with a lawn roller or the back of a rake. Ensure that the soil is level with the surrounding area.

3. Grade The Surface

Next, you’ll need to grade the surface to ensure proper water drainage. Use a landscape rake to distribute the soil evenly across the lawn. Work the rake back and forth, leveling the soil, and removing any bumps or unevenness. Pay close attention to the areas near the edges and slopes, as these tend to collect water and can create drainage problems.

4. Soil Amendments

Based on the results of your soil test, you may need to add soil amendments to improve the nutrient content and pH level of the soil. Common soil amendments include lime for raising the pH level and sulfur for lowering it. Follow the instructions on the packaging to determine the appropriate amount of amendments to use. Spread the amendments evenly over the surface and rake them into the soil to ensure proper incorporation.

Adding Soil Amendments

In addition to leveling the surface, adding soil amendments can greatly enhance the quality of the soil, promoting optimal growth and health of your new lawn. Soil amendments can help improve soil structure, drainage, and fertility. Here are some common soil amendments to consider:

1. Compost

Adding compost to the existing soil can help improve its structure and fertility. Compost is rich in organic matter, which enhances the soil’s ability to retain nutrients and moisture. Spread a layer of compost, approximately 1-2 inches thick, over the entire lawn area. Use a rake to incorporate the compost into the existing soil. This will help promote healthy root development and improve the overall health of your new lawn.

2. Peat Moss

Peat moss is another excellent soil amendment that can increase moisture retention and improve soil structure. It is particularly beneficial for improving drainage in clay soils. Spread a layer of peat moss, approximately 1-2 inches thick, over the lawn area. Use a rake to incorporate the peat moss into the soil.

3. Organic Fertilizer

Before planting the new grass seed, it’s essential to provide the soil with a nutrient boost. Choose an organic fertilizer specifically formulated for grass and follow the application instructions on the packaging. Organic fertilizers are preferred as they release nutrients slowly, promoting healthy growth over time. Apply the fertilizer evenly over the lawn area using a broadcast spreader.

Choosing The Right Grass Seed

Choosing the right grass seed is crucial for achieving a lush and thriving lawn. Factors such as climate, sunlight exposure, and soil type should be considered when selecting the appropriate seed. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

1. Grass Type

Different grass species have varying strengths and weaknesses. Cool-season grasses, such as Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue, and perennial ryegrass, are best suited for regions with moderate temperatures and cold winters. Warm-season grasses, such as Bermuda grass, Zoysia grass, and St. Augustine grass, thrive in hot climates with mild winters. Research which grass types are most suitable for your region and yard conditions.

2. Sunlight Exposure

Consider the amount of sunlight your lawn receives throughout the day. Some grass species require full sun, while others are more shade-tolerant. Choose a grass type that is well-suited to the sunlight conditions of your yard. If you have a heavily shaded area, consider mixing shade-tolerant grass seed with the main grass type to ensure coverage and growth.

3. Seed Quality

Purchasing high-quality grass seed is essential for optimal results. Look for blends or mixtures that contain a variety of cultivars to ensure a resilient and sustainable lawn. Check the seed packaging for information on purity, germination rate, and weed content. It’s recommended to choose seed with a germination rate of at least 85% to ensure successful establishment.

4. Seeding Rate

The recommended seeding rate varies depending on the grass species and the desired lawn density. Refer to the packaging or consult with a local expert to determine the appropriate seeding rate for your chosen grass type. Over-seeding can lead to excessive competition and a weak lawn, while under-seeding may result in bare patches.

Planting a new lawn over an old lawn can be a rewarding and cost-effective way to transform the appearance of your yard. By carefully removing the existing grass and weeds, leveling the surface, and adding soil amendments, you can create an optimal environment for your new lawn to thrive. Choosing the right grass seed based on your region, sunlight exposure, and soil type is crucial for achieving a healthy and vibrant lawn. With proper preparation and maintenance, your new lawn will provide beauty and enjoyment for years to come.

Spreading The Grass Seed

Planting a new lawn over an old one can be a practical and cost-effective solution. Whether you want to revitalize a worn-out lawn or replace it with a different grass variety, this process can save you time and effort compared to starting from scratch. However, success in establishing a new lawn over an existing one depends on careful preparation and execution.

RELATED  How To Plant Lemon Tree In Ground [ Full Guide ]

Before you begin spreading grass seed over your old lawn, it’s essential to prepare the existing turf. Follow these steps to ensure a smooth and successful planting process:

Step 1: Assess The Condition Of The Old Lawn

Evaluate the condition of the existing lawn to determine if it’s suitable for overseeding or if complete removal is necessary. If the old lawn is severely weed-infested or compacted, it might be better to remove it entirely. However, if the lawn has uneven areas or sparse grass coverage, overseeding can help rejuvenate it.

Step 2: Mow The Existing Lawn

Begin by mowing the existing lawn to a height of around 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm). This step helps create a conducive environment for the new grass seed to make good contact with the soil.

Step 3: Remove Debris And Dethatch

Remove any debris such as leaves, rocks, or twigs from the lawn to create a clean surface for overseeding. Additionally, if the old lawn has accumulated thatch (a layer of dead grass and debris), dethatching is recommended. You can use a dethatching rake or a power rake to remove the thatch, allowing the new grass seed to establish more effectively.

Step 4: Aerate The Soil

Core aeration is an essential step in preparing the lawn for overseeding. It helps alleviate soil compaction and allows the grass seeds to reach the soil more easily, improving germination rates. Use a core aerator to create small holes in the soil, spaced about 2-4 inches (5-10 cm) apart.

Step 5: Spread Grass Seed

Select a quality grass seed variety that suits your climate and lawn preferences. For overseeding, choose a grass seed blend that matches the existing grass type as closely as possible. Using a seed spreader, distribute the grass seed evenly over the old lawn. The recommended seeding rate will vary depending on the specific grass seed variety, so refer to the packaging instructions for guidance. It’s generally advisable to apply the seeds at a rate higher than recommended for new lawns to ensure better coverage.

Step 6: Rake And Roll The Lawn

After spreading the seeds, gently rake the lawn with a leaf rake to help the seeds make better contact with the soil. This will also prevent them from being carried away by wind or rain. If possible, lightly roll the lawn to further enhance seed-to-soil contact, ensuring better germination.

Watering And Maintenance

Proper watering and maintenance are crucial for the development of a healthy and vibrant new lawn. Follow these guidelines to ensure successful establishment and growth:

Step 1: Frequent And Light Watering

Water the newly seeded lawn frequently to keep the soil moist but not saturated. The goal is to provide enough moisture for the seeds to germinate and the new grass to establish roots. To avoid water pooling or runoff, it’s best to water in short intervals, allowing the water to soak in before repeating. Depending on the temperature and moisture levels, you may need to water your lawn multiple times a day initially, gradually reducing the frequency as the grass establishes.

Step 2: Avoid Overwatering

While adequate watering is essential, overwatering can harm the germination process and promote disease. Keep an eye on the soil moisture and adjust your watering schedule accordingly. If you notice standing water or excessively soggy soil, reduce the frequency and duration of your watering sessions.

Step 3: Fertilize At The Right Time

Wait until the new grass has reached a height of at least 2 inches (5 cm) before applying a starter fertilizer. A starter fertilizer with higher phosphorus content will promote root development and enhance the establishment of the new grass. Follow the packaging instructions for the appropriate application rate and methods.

Step 4: Gradually Increase Mowing Height

As the new grass grows, gradually increase the mowing height to encourage root development and establish a sturdy turf. Begin by mowing at a height of around 3 inches (7.5 cm), and gradually lower the height over time. Avoid mowing too low, as it can stress the grass and make it more susceptible to weeds and diseases.

Step 5: Control Weeds

During the establishment phase, it’s crucial to prevent weeds from outcompeting the newly germinated grass. Regularly inspect the lawn for any weeds and take appropriate measures such as hand-pulling or spot spraying with a suitable herbicide. Be cautious when using herbicides, ensuring they won’t harm the new grass.

RELATED  How To Plant In Garden [ Full Guide ]

Fertilizing The New Lawn

Fertilizing a new lawn helps provide the necessary nutrients for healthy growth and establishment. Here’s how to fertilize your newly planted lawn:

Step 1: Soil Test

Before applying any fertilizers, it’s important to conduct a soil test to determine nutrient deficiencies or imbalances in your lawn. A soil test will provide specific recommendations regarding the type and amount of fertilizer needed to promote optimal growth.

Step 2: Apply Starter Fertilizer

Immediately after seeding, apply a slow-release starter fertilizer that is high in phosphorus. This type of fertilizer will support root development and help the new grass establish quickly. Follow the package instructions for the appropriate application rate and technique.

Step 3: Follow A Fertilization Schedule

After the initial application of the starter fertilizer, follow a regular fertilization schedule to provide the necessary nutrients for ongoing lawn health. This schedule will depend on the specific grass type and climate, but a general guideline is to fertilize every 6-8 weeks during the growing season. Use a balanced or slow-release fertilizer with nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in the appropriate ratios for your grass type.

Step 4: Avoid Excessive Fertilization

While fertilizing is important, it’s crucial not to overdo it. Excessive fertilizer application can harm the lawn and may contribute to environmental pollution. Always follow the recommended application rates and avoid applying fertilizers during periods of drought or high heat.

Dealing With Potential Challenges

Weed Control

Weeds can be a common challenge when establishing a new lawn. Here are some strategies for effective weed control:

  • Apply a pre-emergent herbicide before planting the new lawn to prevent weed seeds from germinating.
  • Monitor the lawn regularly and manually remove any emerging weeds.
  • Spot treat weeds with appropriate herbicides, targeting only the affected areas to avoid harming the new grass.

Pest Management

Pests like grubs, insects, and small animals can cause damage to a new lawn. Consider implementing the following pest management techniques:

  • Monitor the lawn for signs of pests, such as irregular patches of damaged grass or small mounds indicating the presence of moles or rodents.
  • Apply appropriate insecticides or pesticides as necessary, following the instructions provided.
  • Use physical barriers or deterrents, such as fences or reflective materials, to keep small animals away from the lawn.

Disease Prevention

Newly established lawns are often more susceptible to diseases. Take preventive measures to minimize the risk of disease:

  • Avoid overwatering, as it can create a favorable environment for fungal diseases to develop.
  • Practice proper lawn maintenance, including regular mowing and removal of excessive thatch, to improve air circulation.
  • If signs of disease appear, identify the specific issue and apply appropriate fungicides according to the recommended application rates.


Establishing a new lawn over an old one can be a rewarding way to revitalize your landscape without completely starting from scratch. By following the steps outlined in this article, including properly preparing the existing lawn, spreading the grass seed, watering and maintenance, fertilizing appropriately, and addressing potential challenges, you can ensure the successful establishment of a vibrant and healthy new lawn. Remember to select the right grass seed variety, follow proper watering practices, and devote attention to maintenance to enjoy long-term success with your new lawn.


What Is The First Step In Planting A New Lawn Over An Old Lawn?

The first step is to thoroughly assess the condition of the existing lawn. Check for bare patches, weeds, and any other issues that may affect the growth of new grass.

Do I Need To Remove The Old Lawn Completely Before Planting A New One?

It is not necessary to remove the entire old lawn, but it is recommended to remove any large patches of dead or unhealthy grass. This will ensure that the new lawn has room to grow and thrive.

How Should I Prepare The Soil Before Planting The New Lawn Over The Old One?

It is important to loosen the soil and remove any debris, such as rocks or roots, before planting the new lawn. You can use a rake or tiller to loosen the top layer of soil, and then smooth it out with a garden rake.

What Type Of Grass Should I Choose For Planting Over An Old Lawn?

It is best to choose a grass type that is suited to your specific climate and growing conditions. Factors to consider include sun exposure, soil type, and level of drought tolerance.

How Much Water And Maintenance Will The New Lawn Require?

The watering and maintenance requirements will depend on the type of grass you choose, as well as your climate and soil conditions. Generally, newly planted lawns will require consistent watering until the roots are established, and regular mowing and fertilizing to maintain healthy growth.