The Ultimate Guide To Planting Grass Seed In Hard Dirt

The Ultimate Guide To Planting Grass Seed In Hard Dirt

Trying to create a lawn in a yard filled with hard dirt is not an easy task. Hard dirt can be very difficult to dig up. What’s more, there is very little room for air and water, making it much more difficult for the plant to grow.

 However, it is still possible to plant grass seeds on hard dirt- you just need to know the right tips and tricks to be successful! Luckily, we know exactly what you need to do to have a lawn full of grass –  and exactly how to do it! 

In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about planting grass seeds on hard dirt – including the difficulties of doing so, the steps you need to take to do it, and more! 

What Are The Causes Of Hard Dirt?

There are many reasons why your soil may consist of hard dirt. Let’s check them out in more detail below!

Too Much Clay

When the dirt in your yard has too much clay, it becomes very dry and begins to clod and crack. When it rains on dirt with too much clay, the dirt will have a difficult time absorbing the water and this results in a lot of water pools sitting on top of the dirt. 

Soil Acidity

If your soil is very acidic, then this is a sign it is actually hard dirt. Of course, some grass soil can be a little acidic without affecting the grass growth. However, the grass will grow better when the soil’s pH is close to neutral. 

The Weather Conditions

Weather conditions, like a continuous drought, can actually be the cause of hard dirt. This is because the soil is not getting the moisture it needs and will begin to dry out. 

How To Plant Grass Seed On Hard Dirt

So, while planting grass seeds on hard dirt can be difficult, it is not impossible! Let’s check out the step-by-step process for planting seeds on hard dirt so you can have a yard full of lush, verdant grass. 

Remove The Dead Grass On The Top Of The Lawn

The first step in this process is to remove all of the dead grass that is sitting on top of the lawn. These plants will look withered and old – but do not dispose of them! They can still come in handy at a later stage. 

Use a lawn mower to remove the dead grass.

Test The Soil

The next step in this process is to test the soil’s pH. It is a good idea to do this so you can find out everything you need to know about the condition of the soil, whether or not it lacks the necessary nutrients to grow grass, etc. 

Here’s how you can test the soil in your yard! 

  • Dig up the soil in around ten different places in your yard
  • Take a soil sample from all of those holes
  • Mix these samples together and take them to a soil testing center
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Once you have worked out the pH of your soil, you can go ahead and prepare it!  

Prepare The Soil

Before anything else can happen, you will need to prepare the soil. Here’s how to do it!

  •  First, remove all of the debris you can see in the soil – especially large rocks and stones. These big objects will stop the healthy growth of the grass, so it’s best to remove them. You also need to remove all of the dead roots from the soil. It is best to snip at them using pruning shears.
  • Now, you need to take an iron rake or a tiller and work on the soil. Make sure all of the clumps are around the same size as a pea. 
  • Next, you should make sure the surfaces of the soil are all even, no dirt mounds should be present. 
  • Now, it’s time to assess the soil’s pH. If the soil is lacking in nutrients, you need to fix this by improving its quality. A great way to do this is by spreading some compost over the soil and then mixing it with the existing soil using a rake. 
  • Once your soil has been treated, it is a good idea to use a fertilizer on the soil. A good fertilizer will help the grass seeds grow strong roots that can cut through the hard dirt. If your soil is more acidic, it is best to use an alkaline fertilizer, and vice versa. 
  • A great alternative if you do not want to use a fertilizer is to use the aforementioned grass cuttings. These grass cuttings are an excellent, organic fertilizer and the most cost-effective way of fertilizing the soil. It is best to mix these grass cuttings with the hard dirt. Then, as they begin to decay and break down, they will release water content and nitrogen which is very beneficial for your soil. Not only that, but microbes and earthworms will start to feed off these grass clippings and excrete onto them. These excretions are great matter for the grass seeds to absorb.  

Select An Appropriate Species Of Grass

Now, it’s time to choose the best species of grass! It is vital that you choose the most appropriate grass species for hard dirt. The grass species that you choose will depend on the following factors:

  • Your region and location 
  • How the lawn in your home is used
  • Your budget
  • How much shade and sunlight your lawn receives

You should also consider what you want your grass to look like and how much maintenance it will take to thrive. 

It is also important to note that there is a difference between warm-season and cool-season grasses, and these different types of grass will need to be planted at different times. 

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Here are some examples of cool-season grasses:

  • Tall fescue 
  • Kentucky bluegrass
  • Perennial ryegrass

These grasses need to be planted in the early fall or spring.

Here are some examples of warm-season grasses: 

  • Zoysia 
  • Centipede grass
  • Bermudagrass

These grasses need to be planted in the summer.

Plant The Grass Seed

Plant The Grass Seed

Now you have prepared your soil and assessed and chosen the type of grass that you want, you next need to plant your grass seeds!

It is best to mark rows to do this, making sure that you have left a decent amount of distance between the seeds so the density is not too high. 

It is also a good idea to focus on how deep you are planting your grass seeds. Typically, the bigger the seed is, the deeper it needs to be planted. More generally, seeds need to be planted at around ¼ “ into the soil.

Water The Grass

Grass seeds need three things to grow – sunlight, soil, and water. You should have already perfected your soil and assessed how much sunlight your lawn receives on a daily basis. So, all that’s left to do is turn your attention to watering the seeds. 

It is important not to underwater the seeds, but you shouldn’t overwater them, either. Ideally, your grass seeds need to be watered once per day in hot weather. 

But when exactly is the best time to water the grass seeds? Well, we think the best time to do so is the middle of the morning. During this time of day, the soil will absorb more moisture from the water and allow the grass seeds to thrive.

Once the seeds start germinating, you need to water the first 2” of the soil. Then, when the grass grows to be around 3”, you can start watering it less – around twice a week should be doable.

Infrequent watering is key at this stage. Not only that, the water should reach around 6-8” in the soil, because this allows the grass seeds to develop strong roots. Grass seeds need strong roots so they can survive in periods of drought and extensive heat. 


Now, you need to wait for the grass to grow. During this waiting time, it is a good idea to water and fertilize the soil on a regular basis. At this stage, the best fertilizer to use is one that is rich in nitrogen, and it is best to place it on the soil around four times annually. 

How Long Does It Take For Grass To Grow?

The amount of time it takes grass to grow will vary depending on the type of grass seed you have planted. Generally, it can take between five and thirty days for the grass to grow. However, if you have planted cool-season grass, this process can take a lot longer. 

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There are three key factors that determine how long it takes for grass to grow. Let’s check these out in more detail below! 


First up is sunlight! If there is a lot of shade in your garden, then it can hinder the grass growth process if it is the wrong kind. If you want your grass to grow quickly, it is best to choose grass that can grow in the shade.

The Season

The time of year you plant the grass seed can also impact the grass growth process. Planting grass seeds in cool weather means that they are likely to stay dormant until the weather becomes warmer.

After this, your grass will begin to grow. However, if you plant a certain type of grass seed in a season that is not able to support it well, then you are unlikely to see much grass growth at all. 


The temperature of both the ground and the air is important in deciding how long the grass will take to grow in your yard. When the temperatures are warmer, the seeds are more likely to germinate. 

Can You Plant Grass Over Rocks?

While this is not necessarily the best idea, it is actually possible to plant grass over rocks. The bigger the rocks are, the more soil you will need to use.

There also needs to be fewer rocks compared to the amount of dirt in the yard. If this is the case, then rest assured your grass is likely to find a way to grow around the rocks.

Final Thoughts

Hard dirt happens for a variety of reasons. Namely, a continuous drought in your area, the amount of clay in the soil, or the amount of acid in the soil. It is difficult to plant seeds in hard dirt and have them grow and thrive.

This is because it takes a lot of work to dig hard dirt. Not only that, but hard dirt also has less little room for water and air, which are essentials for plant growth to be successful. 

However difficult doesn’t mean impossible, and with a little work, you can successfully grow grass seeds in hard dirt. 

To grow grass in hard dirt, it is very important to ensure all the steps are adhered to.

For example, you need to choose the right kind of grass for your lawn, depending on a variety of factors like the amount of sunlight it gets, or the time of year it is.

On top of that, you need to ensure you are watering your plants as the instructions state or you risk giving them too much or too little, and hindering their growth. 

If you follow our steps above, your grass seeds are sure to thrive no matter what dirt they’re grown in!