If you’re unsure of when to plant grass seed in the spring, read on to learn about identifying the right time and how to take care of your growing lawn. Whether you put down fertilizer or grass seed first depends on several factors and conditions. The most important factors are based on the type of grass planted, soil conditions, climate and whether the lawn is new or being re-seeded. Do I Weed & Feed or Plant Seed First?. You can sow grass seeds now and kill weeds later with a post-emergent herbicide or kill weeds now with a pre-emergent herbicide and plant the seeds later. Weed-and-feed fertilizers are specially formulated combinations of turf fertilizer and herbicides that you apply either …
Exactly When to Plant Grass Seed in Spring
Wondering when to plant grass seed in spring for ideal results? Discover the best times and perfect seeding schedule for your region, plus our top tips.
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.
What Should I Put Down First: Fertizer or Grass Seed?
Whether you put down fertilizer or grass seed first depends on several factors and conditions. The most important factors are based on the type of grass planted, soil conditions, climate and whether the lawn is new or being re-seeded.
New Lawn Seeding
Most landscaping professionals agree that it is always best to fertilize the soil first if you are seeding a new lawn. It is also recommended to conduct a soil test so that you select the appropriate fertilizer. The results will dictate the appropriate levels of phosphorus, potassium and nitrogen to get the lawn off to a healthy start once the seeds are planted.
Established, Cool-Season Grasses
Cool-season grasses include fescues, bluegrass and rye grass. Plant seeds to patch or re-seed an existing lawn. Aerate the area where you are re-seeding the lawn. Apply a heavier dose of nitrogen in the early fall to help build fortify roots during the winter. Then apply a mid-spring fertilization with less nitrogen to help promote thicker growth during spring and summer.
- Whether you put down fertilizer or grass seed first depends on several factors and conditions.
- Most landscaping professionals agree that it is always best to fertilize the soil first if you are seeding a new lawn.
Established, Warm-Season Grasses
Warm-season grasses include Bermuda and zoysia. They benefit from fertilization prior to re-seeding in the spring. This will improve growth and greening. Then fertilize again during the late summer and early fall. Use a bit more nitrogen during late summer and fall, and a bit less during the spring. Conduct a soil test to confirm the proper nutrients your lawn requires to achieve the best results.
Grass Seed Or Fertilizer First?
Seeding a lawn is a precise business and requires careful preparation to encourage proper seed germination and growth. You can also place both fertilizer and seed into the same broadcast fertilizer and spread, but you must be careful to ensure that the two are thoroughly mixed, or else you will end up with an unequal distribution of seed and food. The best time to sow grass seeds is in early fall. If the seed has not had time to establish, the frost may kill it. If you apply weed and feed to the lawn before you seed, wait at least six weeks to apply seed.
Do I Weed & Feed or Plant Seed First?
You can sow grass seeds now and kill weeds later with a post-emergent herbicide or kill weeds now with a pre-emergent herbicide and plant the seeds later. Weed-and-feed fertilizers are specially formulated combinations of turf fertilizer and herbicides that you apply either before you plant grass seeds or on established lawns.
You apply pre-emergent herbicides before weed seeds germinate, typically in the spring. Pre-emergent herbicides do not prevent weed seeds from germinating; they suppress the development of weed roots as they germinate. They’re usually effective for two weeks to three months, depending on the formulation, and you have to water the lawn after applying for the herbicide for it to be effective. There are pre-emergent herbicides to kill both broadleaf weeds and weedy grasses. You can apply them before you sow your grass seed. If you apply a pre-emergent herbicide that kills weedy grasses, you have to delay sowing your lawn seed.
Post emergent herbicides kill weeds after they appear. Some post-emergent, systemic herbicides that you can apply directly on lawns only kill weedy grasses, while others only kill weeds with broadleaf weeds. Contact herbicide such as those including the active ingredient glyphosate kills on contact. To use one of those on a lawn without killing the grass you have to daub it on individual weeds.
Pre-Emergent Weed-and-Feed Fertilizer
Fertilizers containing pre-emergent herbicides selectively prevent certain kinds of weeds from finishing their germination cycle. There is no point applying this type of weed-and-feed mix after weeds are growing on your lawn. You have to apply it early in the growing season before weeds appear. Make sure the pre-emergent herbicide in the fertilizer kills the kind of weeds that have plagued your lawn in the past. You might apply a starter fertilizer containing a pre-emergent herbicide before you sow your lawn seeds.
Post-Emergent Weed-and-Feed Fertilizer
Post-emergent weed-and-feed formulations kill selective weeds that are already growing in your lawn. Make sure that the herbicide in the formulation you buy kills the type of weeds that are growing in your lawn. Most weeds make their appearance in the spring, the best time to apply weed-and-feed fertilizer.