Best time to plant grass seeds for a greener lawn
If your lawn is starting to look a little bare in some spots, you’re probably wondering if now is the best time to plant grass seeds — or if you’ll end up feeding the birds when they scatter the seeds. Although you can grow grass almost year-round, there are certain times of the year that are more likely to ensure a greener lawn through all your efforts.
Try these tips to help your lawn grow, from expert Terri Valenzuela, director of natural sciences at Sunday Lawn Care.
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Plant grass seeds when the weather is mild
Planting in the heat of summer makes it difficult to keep young seedlings thriving, so spring and fall are the sweet spot. “It’s like the temperate grass seasons — not too hot, not too cold,” Valenzuela says. “These seasons tend to provide milder temperatures and increased rainfall, ensuring that grass seeds do not dry out too quickly. Extra rainfall can also help ensure they are adequately watered. Additionally, with additional rainfall, grass seedlings are reduced “You are likely to miss vital irrigation that is critical to its establishment.”
Watch out for frost
Freezing temperatures are the enemy of new grass, so it’s best to plant grass seed after the spring frost ends or before it starts in the fall. “Timing is everything!” Valenzuela says. “Aim to sow seeds in the fall before mid-October. Any later, and those young grasses will face the risk of cold mornings or freezes, creating potential bare patches in the spring.”
Valenzuela also recommends waiting until average daily temperatures reach the 55 to 75 degree range for the cool-season grasses you use in northern locations, or the 70 to 90 degree range in the south. (If you live in the middle of the country, you can use cool-weather herbs or warm-weather herbs, depending on what you prefer.
Choose the right type of grass seed for your garden
In cooler climates, you should lean toward cool-season grasses like fescue or Kentucky bluegrass, while warm-season grasses like Bermuda and St. Augustine grass thrive in hot temperatures.
You will also need to consider how you will use your garden and the light conditions in which you grow your garden. “If an area of your garden is mostly shade, choose shade-tolerant seeds,” Valenzuela says. If heat and drought are a concern, there is a grass species grown to tolerate it. If you have children and pets running and playing in your lawn, choose a sturdy lawn that can handle more foot traffic.
“Getting this pairing of grass seeds right is an essential step in ensuring that your grass seeds have a good chance to grow from the beginning,” she says.
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Plant grass seeds the right way
If you are replanting sparse grass, mow it first and then remove the trimmings to help the seeds reach the soil. In very bare areas, you should rake or break up the soil before spreading the seeds.
Use a rotary spreader to spread the seeds, following package directions for how dense the grass seed should be. (Applying too much seed can make it difficult for the grass to take root, and under-seeding will result in thin, brittle grass.) Water the seeds gently, and continue to water any sparse areas once or twice daily until the grass is mature. Established.
Give the grass time to grow
You’ll want to graze the lawn a bit until those tufts of grass seedlings start to look like a real lawn. Stay away from newly planted patches to allow the grass to grow and maintain soil moisture to help it thrive. It may seem counterintuitive, but Valenzuela says mowing can actually help your lawn grow thicker and stronger—just wait until your new lawn is about four inches tall before doing the initial mowing of your new lawn. “Mowing actually forces the grass to spread across your lawn, filling in your lawn faster.” This may mean that you will need to do less patching and reseeding next season.
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