The Best Time to Plant Grass

The Best Time to Plant Grass

A well-maintained lawn says a lot about you as a homeowner, so it’s important to keep it looking good. Occasionally, you need to repair bare spots and reseed sections of your yard to keep it in top condition. The secret to success when seeding a lawn is knowing the best time to plant grass seed.

Before digging up the parts of your yard that are causing you embarrassment, learn about the best time to plant grass on your lawn.

When Is the Best Time to Plant Grass Seed?

The best time to plant grass seed depends on your climate. Different grass species thrive in certain areas, and when you plant grass suited to your growing region, your lawn grows better.

Generally, we find grass seed separated into two categories: Warm-season and cool-season. Warm-season grasses are best planted in the spring, while cool-season grasses are best planted in the fall.

Kentucky bluegrass, fescue, and perennial ryegrass are cool-season grasses, and Bermuda grass, zoysia grass, and centipede grass do better in warmer regions. You should plant both varieties if you live in a transitional area between cool and warm-season regions.

Why Timing Matters When Planting Grass Seed

When you plant grass during peak growing conditions, the germination rate will be higher, and there is less chance that it will develop a disease. It can establish before harsh weather conditions arrive.

Knowing the best time to plant grass seed can help you avoid getting discouraged. Ultimately, it saves time and money. Each type of grass has an optimal growth cycle, and when you match that with the conditions of your region, your grass will grow faster.

When to Plant Cool-Season Grasses

Cool-season grasses germinate best when soil temperatures are about 50-60°F (10-15°C). In the fall, the soil is still warm from the summer sun, but the cooler temperatures brought on by chilly nights promote germination.

When you live in northern regions, planting cool-season grasses in the fall gives your lawn three seasons to become fully established before facing that scorching summer weather. Overall, cool-season grass needs more moisture than warm-season grass, and it grows best in temperatures between 55°F and 90°F (13-32°C).

Springtime is the second-best time to plant cool-season grass. When you seed your lawn in the spring, it doesn’t have a chance to get established before hot July and August weather threatens it. Keep it well-watered through the hot summer months.

The farther north you live, the earlier you can plant cool-weather grass seed in the fall. You can start planting in many northern parts of the country when nights cool in August.

Use a Soil Thermometer to Determine When to Plant Your Grass Seed

best time to plant grass

Insert the probe of the thermometer at least four inches into the soil and wait about five minutes before reading the temperature. The best time to plant cool-season grass is when the temperatures are consistently 50-60°F (10-15°C).

When to Plant Warm-Season Grasses

In warm regions, the spring rains and warm soil temperatures create the perfect environment for germinating grass seeds. Warm-season grasses are in peak growth cycles during late spring and summer and prefer soil temperatures above 65°F (18°C).

Warm-season grass is more likely to thrive when planted in the spring because it has several months of warm weather ahead. However, it needs at least 90 days to develop strong roots before the cold weather sets in.

The farther south you live, the earlier you can plant warm-season grass in the spring. Many people in Florida and California plant warm-season grass in April. Use a soil thermometer to determine when the soil reaches 65-70°F, the best temperature for germinating warm-season grass seed.

Other Factors That Influence Seeding Times

For the best results, pay attention to anything that will influence the germination of grass seed and the health of your lawn.

Location in the Yard

Your yard has microclimates that affect plants in many ways, and your grass is no exception. How much shade or direct sun an area gets affects everything from seeding times to how often you need to water your newly planted lawn.

The soil may also vary in different parts of your yard. Soil health plays a critical role in the germination of your grass seeds and the health of your lawn.

Upcoming Weather

When you plant grass seed, think ahead. Warm-season grass that is planted too late in the season won’t have a chance to establish before winter.

Likewise, cold-season grasses planted in the spring won’t have adequate time to develop strong roots before the weather turns hot.

Also, if there’s a big storm coming soon in the forecast, it’s best to wait until after it rains. Heavy rains can wash away newly spread seeds; and you also want to be in control of the soil moisture levels as much as possible.

The Last Time You Applied Herbicides

Wait at least a month after applying herbicides before you plant grass seed. Even though weed and feed products don’t target grass, they can weaken tiny grass seedlings and hamper your efforts.

You should always track herbicide applications, both to ensure you aren’t over-applying them and to help gauge their effectiveness. After you plant grass seed, wait at least three to four months before you apply herbicides of any kind on your new lawn.

Other Activities That May Affect the Seeding of Grass

Lawns are designed to be a hub of activity, making it difficult to schedule the best time to plant grass seed.

If you have children, the best time to seed your lawn in cool regions is when they return to school in September. In warm growing zones, try to plant it before they get out of school for the summer.

Plant one side of your house at a time so kids and pets have somewhere to play, and put a temporary fence around your newly planted lawn to keep everyone off. Also, don’t plant your grass right before you go on vacation. It needs intensive care for the first few weeks.

How to Prepare Your Lawn to Plant Grass

Properly prepared soil creates a strong foundation for your new lawn to thrive. The soil should be aerated, raked, and leveled to allow for better absorption of water, fertilizer, and other nutrients.

Best time to plant grass

If your soil is heavily compacted, you may have to till it to create a seedbed.

Before planting grass seed, level the ground with your rake. Water will wash the grass seeds into any dips or footprints, so make it as level as possible.

How Long Does Grass Seed Take to Grow?

When planting grass seed, it is important to understand how long it takes for grass seed to germinate and how long it takes for grass seed to grow. Grass seed germination time varies due to many factors, including soil temperature, sunlight, moisture, and the type of grass seed.

Your grass can sprout in as little as five days, but sometimes it takes up to 30 days to germinate.

How to Care for Newly Planted Grass Seed

Water is the most critical factor in newly planted lawns. Keep the top half-inch layer of soil moist until the grass seedlings are at least one inch tall. Sprinkle your new lawn lightly one to three times daily, but avoid overwatering because it can wash grass seeds away.

Wait until your lawn is at least three inches tall before you mow, and set the blades high to avoid cutting it too short.

You can fertilize your grass with a good quality turf fertilizer in four to six weeks, but you should wait three to four months before applying herbicide.

FAQs About When to Plant Grass Seed

Is March too early to plant grass seed?

March is too early to plant grass in nearly every part of the United States. The best time to plant grass is when the soil temperature is right for your type of grass seed. In the spring, use a soil thermometer to figure out when the temperature is consistently above 65-70°F.

Can you plant grass seed in the winter?

There are risks with planting cool-season grass seed in the winter, a technique known as dormant seeding.

The grass seed can wash away or not germinate at all. However, if it sprouts, it gives your grass a head start in the spring when the soil temperature warms up.

Can you plant grass seed in the fall to get it to grow in the spring?

Cool-season grass is best planted in the fall. Unlike warm-season grass, it prefers cold temperatures and moist conditions. Cool-season grass will continue growing in the spring when warmer temperatures return.

If you plant warm-season grass in the fall, the seed may rot. Even if it does germinate, it won’t thrive in the cold weather like cool-season grass will.

Warm-season lawns naturally turn brown in the winter because they go dormant in cool temperatures. That’s why many people over-seed their lawns with cool-season grass seed in the fall to keep them looking green. Overseeding should be done about 45 days before the first frost.

Related articles

Types of Lawn Grass in America

Spotting and Maintaining the Various Types of Lawn Grass Across the country, gardeners and homeowners are working hard to maintain a great lawn. But in a nation as large and diverse as the United States, there is a need for almost as many different types of lawn grass as there are different types of climate, […]

How to Remove a Tree Stump

Did you ever wonder about the origin of the word “stumped”? You probably understand where the term originated if you’ve ever tried to figure out how to remove a tree stump from your yard. While there are many ways to remove a tree stump, all of them can be described as challenging. However, with the […]

How to Plant Grass Seed

If your lawn needs a fresh look, planting grass seed is an effective way to spruce up your yard. With the right tools and techniques, you’ll be able to enjoy a beautiful green lawn in no time. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced gardener, this guide will help you learn how to seed a […]

10 Tips for Low-Maintenance Landscaping

We get it. Not everyone has the time or inclination to spend hours tending to their yards. This goes double if you work all week long or have small children. With some strategic tips and techniques, the crew at OPE Reviews aims to help you both create and maintain low-maintenance landscaping. This could be the […]

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x