Easiest way to prepare soil for grass seed?

We have a lawn in Minnesota that has large areas of weeds. We want to pull the weeds and plant grass seed. What's the easiest way to prepare the soil so grass seed will take root? We don't really want to rent a tiller if we don't have to, and when I tried to hand till it with shovels and a spade, that was a ton of work that we'd like to avoid if possible.
I've heard of many people, especially "country folk" with big lawns, who say they thicken up their lawns just by mowing weeds down real short and throwing grass seed onto the soil. Does this work? When I've thrown grass seed on regular hard soil, hardly any of it takes root.
Anyone have tricks for planting grass seed EASILY, so it takes root? What if we watered down the soil real good till it was muddy, threw some grass seed on, then raked it into the ground? Would this work? Any tips would be appreciated!!!
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To an extent, responses will reflect the individual preferences of people and how much work they like doing. The best clue I can offer is that in a typical hot, dry summer, weeds are king (or queen), while most lawns need to be artificially supported like gunshot wound victims who might not live. This is NOT the time to plant grass. Spring and fall are the correct times.
Look at a typical 10'x10' area of your lawn. Are the weeds covering all the soil, or what percentage of it?

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You could core aerate the lawn and then seed it. You could use a slit seeder. Of course, both options involve renting equipment. I am afraid that there is no effortless way to do a good job.
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This is what I did for a 8X15 ft area.
In the middle of summer-until fall, i regularly mowed that area like i did the rest of the lawn. Every 2 weeks (or so) i applied 'weed and feed' in that area. I stopped the fertilizing in September (6th)- but mowed the area every week.
At the time of 'leaves falling'- (October 6th) -I mean in the thick of FALL- I mowed that area with the lowest setting on the lawnmower. I threw seeds and strew some straw over the area. By winter time, I saw the lawn sprung up. I never mowed that area. Come Spring 2004- it was essentially lawn with 10% weeds. I sprayed some round up on the 'dandelions'. Now it is 97% grass.
I think that is easy
I was told aerating does not help seeding. In fact- it is not advised to seed after aeration.
MK

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The easiest way is to hire an experienced landscaper to do it. (I can think of the best way, but that's not what you asked.)
On Fri, 30 Jul 2004 14:43:43 -0500, "Dave K."

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To get any sort of satisfactory results, you are going to have to exert some time and effort. If your soil is hard and compacted, you WILL need to aerate, despite other posts to the contrary. You may very well get the seeds to germinate successfully without aeration, but if the soil is compacted, the roots will never be able to penetrate deeply and the new grass will die out rapidly. To test if aeration is needed, use a longbladed screwdriver and insert it into different areas of your lawn. If it goes in easily, you can skip the aerating step but if you really have to force it in, your soil is compacted and will need this step.
Here is the sequence for overseeding: * Remove as many of the large weeds as possible. * Mow on short setting and remove all clippings. * Dethatch and aerate, if necessary (requires equipment rental or a lot of elbow grease). Make sure you use a core aerator. * Spread a thin layer (1/4-1/2") of screened compost over the area and overseed. A handheld, rotary seeder will work fine. * Apply a starter fertilizer and top with a very thin layer (1/4") of compost. Keep moist until seed germinates. *Avoid mowing until new grass is 2" tall.
Timing is critical on overseeding. Fall is generally the recommended season (other than spring), but check with your local extension office for their recommendation. The prep work (weeding, dethatching and aerating) can be done in advance of the seeding, but make sure the existing grass has been mowed short before seeding to allow as much oxygen and light as possible to reach the new seeds.
If this sounds like too much work, then I agree with Phisherman - hire it done. It really is countertproductive and a waste of time and money to attempt to short cut this process.
pam - gardengal
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I have just replanted a 15X20 area and it worked wonderful,here are the steps that I did. 1. Sprayed the area with Roundup to eliminate everything. 2. Waited 2 weeks so the Roundup was leached out. 3.Tilled the soil with a cultivator that I use for flower beds and vegetable garden. 4.Raked the dead grass and weeds out, added some top soil because of so much sand and not enough soil and tilled again. 5. Raked the area so that all spots were level. 6. Spread the seed (over seeded). 7. Placed straw over the area. 8. Watered every day to keep the soil moist for seed germination. 9. Three weeks later I raked the straw off. 10.Spots where the grass was thin I scratched the soil with rake reseeded replaced the straw on these spots. The results were wonderful, there is no easy way of doing it if you want good results

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