Planting grass seed is an efficient way to create a fuller and greener lawn that gives your home an appealing look and provides a lush environment for outdoor fun. However, you can’t throw down seeds at any time and expect perfect results. Grass seeding should be completed at the right time to ensure proper germination and growth in your lawn.
For many people, springtime is the season for completing yard work and other outdoor projects. You’ll need to know the proper time for grass seeding in the spring to get the best results. Read on to learn more about the factors that influence seeding times, how to prepare your lawn for planting, and how to maintain growth throughout the year.
Factors That Influence Seeding Times
While many homeowners have a lawn care schedule in the spring, it’s not enough to just complete seeding at any point during the season. To ensure proper growth, you should consider your location as well as the type of grass you have, as these factors influence the right seeding conditions.
Your location impacts your climate, which in turn affects the type of grass you lay down and when it should be seeded. For example, many parts of the south use warm-season grasses to handle the temperate climate that prevails all year long. Other parts of the country, such as the midwest and far north, experience freezing temperatures that require cool-season grasses.
Unsurprisingly, warm-season grasses thrive in warmer climates. These grasses, including Bahia grass, Bermuda grass, zoysia grass, centipede grass, St. Augustine, and other turfgrasses, germinate in air temperatures above 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you live in an area of the country where temperatures stay fairly consistent year round, you can typically plant warm-season grasses from early spring to late fall. However, if your yard experiences the highs and lows of traditional seasons, be sure to plant your grass in late spring or early summer.
Cool-season grasses, including Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue, fine fescue, and perennial ryegrass, fare better in areas of the country with temperate summers and chilly winters. This type of grass is dormant during the winter and grows during the fall and spring. It’s recommended that you plant your cool-season grass seed in late summer or early fall before temperatures dip below freezing.
In addition to the temperature, which impacts the season you should plant your cool- or warm-season grass, it’s also important to keep an eye on other weather conditions. For example, light rain may help seeds grow, though a heavy pour could wash seeds away. Check the radar to ensure a heavy storm isn’t approaching your area in the days after seeding.
In a similar vein, be sure to plant your seeds when the ground is sturdy and free of mud puddles, which can lead to disease. You’ll also want to avoid windy weather. Just as rain can wash seeds away, heavy winds can push newly-spread seeds across your existing lawn.
If perfecting this timing sounds overly complex, full-service lawn companies such as TruGreen lawn care can attend to seeding and fertilizing your lawn on the right schedule.
How to Prepare Your Lawn
While timing is important when seeding your lawn, preparation is also key. Readying your lawn ensures that your soil is ready to promote new grass seed germination and growth. Preparing your yard consists of multiple steps, including actions like leveling your lawn, testing your soil, and aeration. Take a closer look at each step of the process below.
Level the Lawn
Before planting new seed, it’s important to remove any inconsistencies in your lawn, such as rocks and debris. Additionally, be sure to level the various peaks and valleys in your yard with a soil mixture that consists of sand, topsoil, and compost. Don’t just use topsoil, as this fresh mixture may contain weed seeds and other harmful nutrients.
Address Bare Spots
Bare spots pop up in lawns for a variety of reasons, such as heavy foot traffic, drought, and insect infestations. Once you’ve identified the brown spots in your lawn, you can prepare them for overseeding by digging up the area, mixing in new topsoil, and using a rake to level the ground. From there, the bare spot is ready for seeding. To help prevent future bare patches, you can apply a pre-emergent herbicide in conjunction with a fertilizer to prevent weed germination.
Test Your Soil
Much of a seed’s growth depends on the pH levels of your soil. Since every lawn’s pH is different, testing your soil is important to determine if it’s acidic, neutral, or basic. Based on these results, you’ll know which minerals and nutrients your soil is missing. Many home improvement stores, such as Lowe’s or Home Depot, sell simple five- or six-step DIY soil testing kits. If you prefer to use a professional, many full-service companies will do it for you.
When your soil has become stagnant and compacted, it’s time to aerate your lawn. This loosens your tightly-packed soil and helps with weed control while fighting the stress from droughts. Try simple DIY methods like garden forks or aerator shoes for a lower cost of aeration. However, for more tightly compacted soil, you may want to use lawn care professionals.
Fertilizing provides new lawns with concentrated nutrients needed while establishing a strong root system. Cool-season grasses should be fertilized using a spreader in the fall, while warm-season grasses can be fertilized throughout the summer. Many homeowners choose a starter fertilizer, which uses nutrients to meet the needs of growing seeds until the root system develops.
Maintaining Your Spring Seeding
It’ll take some time to see results. Cool-season grasses will begin to germinate in five to seven days, while warm-season grasses can take up to three weeks.
Here are some tips on how to nourish your grass as it grows:
- Be patient with grass that’s in the shade, as these seeds will take longer to germinate.
- Water your lawn regularly but don’t overwater, as this will damage the growing grass.
- Wait until at least two months have passed before mowing your grass. Grass will be around three inches in height when it’s ready to be cut.
- Compost kitchen and garden waste to add nutrients to your growing lawn.
Timing is everything when it comes to seeding your lawn. If you have cool-season grass, aim to start seeding in late summer or early fall before freezing air and soil temperatures hit your area. Start the seeding process in the late spring or early summer for warm-season grass.
No matter which type of grass you want to grow, be sure to continue lawn care even after the initial planting. If this process sounds too time-intensive, you may want to consider a lawn care service to seed, fertilize, and maintain your yard throughout the year. Our recommendation is TruGreen, a provider that offers comprehensive services and seeding.
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