When is the Best Time to Plant Grass Seed?

Grass is a beautiful addition to any lawn or garden, but figuring out when to plant grass seed can be tricky. Like many homeowners, you may be wondering when is the best time to plant grass seed? Is autumn the best time? Or is spring a better time? What about winter and summer?

There are a few things you need to take into account before you get started. The answer depends on your region and the type of grass you are planting.

However, there are some general tips that can help you get started. In this blog post, we will discuss when and how to plant grass seed in different parts of the country, as well as some tips for success and getting your lawn looking its best. So, whether you are a new homeowner or just looking to refresh your yard, and whether you are planning to do it yourself or hire a professional, stay tuned for information on when to plant grass seed!

Types of Grass Seed

When planting grass seed, you have to take the type of grass that you’re planting into account. Different types have different needs and thrive better in different conditions, including the time of year that you plant the seeds.

Warm-Season Vs. Cold-Season Grasses

The two main types of grass seed are seeds for warm-season grasses, and those for cold-season grasses. Warm-season grasses are grasses that only start growing above temperatures of 50 degrees F (or 10 C), and they really thrive at temperatures around 77 to 95 F (25 – 35 C). In the winter, they go dormant and become dark or brown in color.

Some warm season grasses are extremely drought tolerant, and can withstand spectacular summer heat. Examples of warm-season grasses include Zoysia Grass, Bermuda Grass, St. Augustine Grass, and Buffalo Grass.

On the other hand, cool-season grasses start their growth at about 40 degrees F (5 C), and are fastest growing and most efficient between 50 and 75 F (10 – 25 C). This type of grass thrives in areas with mild or cool summers, with two spikes of rapid growth in the spring and fall.

These cool-season grasses feature bright colors and grow in dense, carpet-like lawns with minimal thatch, and they can deal easily with extreme cold. Examples of cool-season grasses are Bluegrass, Ryegrass, Bentgrass, and Fescues.

Why Timing Matters

When you plant in accordance with the seeds’ natural periods of peak development, grass thrives and grows swiftly. Lawn grasses, like other plants in your environment, have various growth periods and climate requirements.

With warm season grasses, they grow fastest over the late spring and summer, for one long main growing season. Cool season grasses have two relatively shorter but more intense seasons of growing, one in the spring and one in the fall. You should plant your grass seed accordingly.

Planting In Fall

Overall, autumn is the optimal period to sow or overseed with a cool-season variety, regardless of your location in the country. If you are farther north, you want to aim for about middle of August to end of September, and as you go a bit further southwards you can plant more towards the end of October even.

If you adhere to these dates, your grass seed will sprout correctly. Additionally, because of the killing cold that will arrive a few months later, you won’t have as much weed pressure as you would during the spring or summer.

On the other hand, planting warm season grass seed in the autumn is not recommended since it might not have enough time to sprout before the arrival of winter temperatures. It’s possible that it won’t germinate in time, and even if it has the opportunity to do so, it may still be a little too fragile going into the winter and susceptible to winter damage.

Springtime Planting

The second best time to plant grass seed for cool season types is in the spring. The optimum planting time for cool season grass seed during this season is between early April and the middle of May. During this time, you’ll be able to see the sprouts emerging from the top of the soil. In the colder areas of the country, March is still chilly, so it’s probably best to avoid that time for planting.

The soil might be more difficult to cultivate in the spring since weeds, like crabgrass, will begin to grow around this period. Also, in the spring, you should not overseed a warm-season grass with a cool-season grass.

With regards to warm-season grass seed, these should be planted in the spring. If you live in northern Georgia or North Carolina, the month of May is when you’ll get the best results with a warm season turfgrass variety, and as you travel farther south, the time frame becomes wider and can extend into April.

Make certain to fully water your grass seed at this time as the correct quantities of irrigation will assist it germinate before the start of summer heat. The grass will grow quickly throughout the summer months of July, August, and early September.

Summer and Winter

It is not recommend that you plant either type of grass seed in the summer or winter. The summer months are too hot and can burn the seeds or evaporate the water they desperately need too quickly, so that they won’t be able to absorb it.

It is also not advised to grow grass seed in the winter for either warm or cool season grasses. The probability of it implanting into the hard ground, surviving the harsh winter temperatures, and not washing away is quite low.

What to Expect From Newly Planted Seed

Proper timing allows grass seedlings of various types to establish properly and grow before natural factors intervene. Depending on your grass type, growing region, and yearly weather conditions, what that implies for your lawn may vary.

The natural germination rates of grasses and kinds differ. Kentucky bluegrass germination, for example, might take twice as long as tall fescue plants, even though they’re both cool-season grasses. With regards to warm-season grasses, Zoysia grass, for example, may take two to three times as long as Bermuda grass to establish. Additionally, many seeds come with a blend of different species of grass, which can then germinate at varying rates.

Whether you’re re-seeding bare patches, overseeding an established grass lawn, or beginning from the ground up, grass seedlings should appear between seven and 21 days when cultivated in suitable conditions. It might take three to four weeks from there for grass to grow to be long enough to mow. This could indicate waiting until spring for your first mowing in the case of fall-planted seed. Zoysia Grass is an example of a grass that may require many months to develop fully.

Most of the growth of new grass seedlings happens below the surface, where you can’t observe it. When their peak season arrives, established grass roots get hardy greens firmly rooted, optimized for the seasons ahead, and positioned for robust development. New grass seeds have the ability to grow well for light, water and nutrients, as well as battle off lawn sicknesses and pests, including lawn weeds, in time.

If none of these things are happening, your grass seed might have expired. Click here to learn about if grass seed expires and what to do about it.

How to Sow Grass Seed

First, before you even get your grass seed out, you need to prepare your lawn. Remove any existing weeds, lay down some top soil or mulch if you think your soil is not healthy enough, and rake your lawn thoroughly to get a more flat, even yard.

Then, you can sow your grass seed by either throwing it out by hand or by using a rotary or drop spreader, like you would with fertilizer. For a new lawn, you want to seed about 50 grams per square meter, and for overseeding an established lawn you want to do about 35 grams per square meter.

Once the grass has been spread thoroughly and evenly throughout your lawn, you should either use a roller or a rake to more firmly establish the seed into the soil. Then give it a good, deep watering, and continue to water about once a day from then on.

Planting Grass Seed: When is The Best Time?

There are other considerations to take into account when planting new grass seed or overseeding a lawn and can affect the exact time of year that you do it.

Herbicides and Pesticides

If you use pesticides to kill weeds on your current grass, wait at least a month after the treatment before sowing new grass seeds. If you’ve ever used a crabgrass preventer, the suggested waiting period is even longer, and typically around 4 months.

Ideally, arrange your grass maintenance ahead of time so you can wait the optimum amount of time before going back to seed germination temperatures.

Weather Conditions

It’s also a good idea to check the weather forecast, which may help you determine when it’s best to plant grass seed. Make sure there isn’t going to be a particularly harsh cold snap or scorching heatwave.

Also check for any precipitation on the horizon. A soaking might assist seed germination, but a downpour may erode or migrate seeds, congregating at the bottom of a hill, for example.

It is better to sow grass seeds before a steady rain rather than after a heavy downpour. New seeds are more susceptible to fungus diseases when planted on mucky ground, which is difficult to work and too much moisture around the seeds might cause.

Additionally, it is always best to spread out the grass seed on a windless day, and in sunny conditions.

Other Activities

The seeds and their early growth (seedlings) require some loving care when first starting out.

Typically, you should wait at least 4 weeks before walking across the new lawn. The grass on the lawn can be disturbed by children playing or dogs running as well. Once the seeds germinate, seedlings are delicate since they develop roots above and below the ground. Walking on seedlings can harm them or uproot them.

Also, don’t mow the lawn until the grass is about 3.5 inches high at least, and the longer you can wait before the first mowing, the better.

Watering Your Lawn

The timing advantage for planting new grass seed can be maximized by watering your lawn properly during this establishment phase. Make sure not to overwater or underwater your lawn; rather, water deeply but infrequently.

Water approximately once per day for the first six weeks, although you can skip any day that it rains during that time.

In Summary

In conclusion, it is important to time your grass seed planting correctly in order to achieve the best results. Timing is everything when it comes to planting grass seed, but the best time to plant grass seed will vary depending on where you live. Planting in fall will give you a head start on springtime growth, and proper soil preparation and watering are essential for healthy lawns.

In this post, we’ve outlined all you need to know about maximizing your timing advantage so that you get the beautiful lawn you desire. If you are looking for more professional advice on how to plant grass seed, or need help with choosing the right type of seed for your climate and soil type, feel free to message us, or contact a lawn care specialist in your area.

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Written by Linda Chan
Linda Chan is a passionate gardener and writer with a background in horticulture and landscape design. She has over 10 years of experience working in the lawn care industry and has a deep understanding of the science and art of keeping a lawn healthy and beautiful.