Are you anxious to seed your lawn to fill in bare spots? The truth is, seeding in the spring is not a good idea. Read these tips on when to plant grass seed and how to achieve the best results. Tips for Planting Grass in the Fall With its milder temperatures and heavier dews, fall is the perfect time for planting certain types of grasses. Follow these fall grass planting tips to
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If you have bare or thin spots in your lawn then you might be thinking about seeding. Seeding can be a great way to solve these problems, however, homeowners often mistakenly assume that it’s something they can have performed any time during the year. For optimal results, that’s simply not the case.
Because we want the best for your lawn, we’ll explain when to plant grass seed in spring or fall and how to achieve the best results.
Can I Seed my Lawn in the Spring?
This is a question that we receive quite often. If you have a lawn that has bare spots or thin areas, then you might be anxious to seed in order to fill them in. But the truth is, seeding in the spring is not a good idea for two key reasons that we’ll explain.
You Can’t Put Down Some Lawn Care Materials
If you’ve seeded in the spring, then you can’t put down crabgrass preventer for approximately 3 months afterward, and at that time, it will be too late to prevent crabgrass.
The material being applied will not know the difference between a desired turfgrass seed and a crabgrass seed, and will ultimately prevent both from growing.
Sometimes people ask us about just skipping crabgrass control but in our opinion, this is risky. Skipping crabgrass control can become a potentially serious concern because of how quickly the pesky weeds can spread. Crabgrass also grows most freely in the thinner areas of your lawn, such as the ones you may have seeded, which makes seeding a bad idea.
Likewise, broadleaf weed control cannot be applied until your new grass seed begins to grow and has matured enough to mow it a couple times. Again, that time frame will end up being very late in the spring to early summer and at that time, your lawn will have also developed quite a crop of weeds along the way.
The Upcoming Weather is Not Ideal
While the springtime weather may be fine for growing grass seed, it won’t be long until the hot summer sun impacts growing conditions. Most people assume that winter is the most challenging time for grass but it’s actually the summer. It’s very difficult to keep brand-new grass seedlings alive with the heat of the summer sun beating down.
The Best Time to Plant Grass in Virginia
You might be wondering when is the best time to plant grass in Virginia if it’s not the spring. Ideally, seeding should always be performed in the fall. Not only does this allow you to get through the spring season utilizing the professional weed control products that your lawn will need to look its best, but weather conditions in the fall are ideal for new seedling growth.
The weather is cool, the ground is moist, and the soil is still warm. In these conditions, your lawn will develop a healthy root system that will allow it to become established in plenty of time before the summer stress sets in.
When it comes to broadleaf weed control, you can apply a late summer or early fall application of this material and then wait approximately a week and seed your lawn. This allows for getting rid of most of the weeds in the lawn prior to seeding and then not having to worry about them for the rest of the fall.
Of course, you might also be wondering specifically when to plant grass seed in fall? The optimal time is anywhere between late August (technically late summer) through the end of October or possibly even early November. It’s not so much the exact time as it is the weather conditions.
Is There Ever a Time to Plant Grass Seed in Spring?
Even though we tell homeowners that seeding the lawn in the spring is not ideal, we occasionally still have people who really want it done. This is usually the case for homeowners who just bought a home and have no grass at all or have so many bare spots that they’re desperate for at least some new grass.
In these circumstances, it’s all about expectations.
We are honest with homeowners that we can seed their lawn in the spring but chances are only about half of it may survive, if they’re lucky. They may also have to deal with weeds in their lawn since we can’t put product down. Then we’ll still need to re-seed in the fall and perform aeration or power seeding. Once homeowners look at it this way and recognize that they’ll be paying for seeding twice (without much luck on the first go-around), they usually just choose to wait.
Of course, another option, for the homeowner who is truly desperate for grass, is laying sod. This is another service that we can offer should you not be able to wait for seeding in the fall (plus the process of nurturing and growing that new grass).
Laying down sod is basically like getting an “instant lawn” and some homeowners decide to do it if they have a party coming up or just can’t wait for the grass to grow. However, you should know that it can be costly and the bigger the yard you have, the more it will be. For that reason, this is something we perform for townhomes or small sections of lawns more often than the entirety of expansive properties.
Wanting the Best for You
We have no doubt that there are lawn care companies in Northern Virginia that will agree to seed your lawn in the spring even though they know it’s not the ideal timing. Companies like these do not have your best interest at heart and would rather just get paid for the work.
At Kingstowne, you can always count on us to give you the honest truth, even when we know it’s not always what you would prefer to hear. Though it can be hard to wait when you really want to seed sooner, waiting until the optimum time to seed your lawn will pay off with better results (and a wiser investment on your behalf).
Our objective is to do what’s best for you, even when it means forgoing potential revenue we could earn in the spring. Ideally, we would love to see all of our customers hold off on seeding until the fall so that you can have the best possible outcome.
If you’re ready to work with an honest company who is committed to doing what’s best for your lawn, then request a quote and relax while we get to work.
Tips for Planting Grass in the Fall
With its milder temperatures and heavier dews, fall is the perfect time for planting certain types of grasses. Follow these fall grass planting tips to establish a lush, healthy lawn.
First, Should You Be Planting Grass in the Fall or in the Spring?
The answer depends on the type of grass seed you’re planting. Early fall is the best time to plant cool-season grasses, such as Fescue, Rye and Bluegrass. These grasses grow best when the temperature is between 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit, and benefit from the shorter days and cooler nights. There is also less competition from crabgrass and foxtails.
Warm-season grasses, on the other hand, should be planted in late spring/early summer, after the last frost date. These include Bermuda, St. Augustine and Zoysia.
Timing Is Everything
The best time for fall grass planting is right around Labor Day. This will give the new seedlings enough time to get established before winter, while avoiding the hot summer temps.
Keep an eye on the weather forecast. A heat wave or cold snap will make it difficult for newly planted seeds to germinate. Rain showers will help get your seeds off to a strong start, but if you plant just before a line of heavy thunderstorms moves in, you may find your seeds washed away in the downpour.
Also take into consideration any weed control products you’ve used in the planting area. Check the product label to ensure that you allow an adequate waiting period before seeding.
Prepare the Soil
Follow these three steps to create an ideal growing environment for your grass seeds:
- Remove all debris, wood or stones from the planting area.
- Use a spade and garden rake to scratch the soil 1-2 inches at the surface. If your soil is compacted or has large amounts of clay, you’ll need to go a step further and till the soil to allow for proper drainage.
- Add seeding soil to the top of your existing soil and smooth it out with a landscape rake. Make sure you fill in any sunken areas and level out any higher areas, making the planting surface as even as you can. Ideally, you want about 3 inches of good, rich soil for the seeds to take root in. If you choose not to use seeding soil, which contains fertilizer, you can instead add starter fertilizer on top of your existing soil using a spreader.
Plant the Seeds
A healthy lawn starts with good seed, so purchase the highest quality seed you can afford.
Measure the planting area, and refer to the seed packaging for the amount to use per square foot. As a general rule, you’ll need about 4-8 lbs. per 1000 square feet. It may be tempting to apply extra seed in order to get a thicker lawn right away, but this harms more than it helps. It leads to overcrowding as the grass matures, choking growth.
A spreader is required for uniform growth of the new grass. Use a broadcast spreader or drop spreader on large areas for uniform coverage. For small areas, you can use a hand spreader.
Following these three steps will help protect the seeds and encourage sprouting:
- Use a lawn roller weighted with water or sand to tamp the seed down. This helps prevent erosion, as well as birds eating the seeds. Many lawn & garden and home improvement stores have lawn rollers available to rent.
- Mulch with a thin layer of straw to help protect the seeds from washing away in heavy rainfall. Don’t use too much—you should be able to see the seedbed through the mulch. On slopes, you may want to use a seed mat for extra protection.
- Sufficient watering is the most important factor in a successful fall grass planting. The soil should remain moist throughout the germination process, and you should water enough that you get soil penetration of 6-8 inches. Morning and night are the best times for watering. If you’re experiencing a dry fall, you may need to water 3-4 times a day. Water with a gentle sprinkler or hand sprinkler to avoid washing away the seeds. Don’t rush—the water needs time to soak into the ground, or you’ll end up with a lake in your yard.
Once the Grass Sprouts
Cool-weather grasses usually sprout within two weeks. If it’s been more than two weeks and there are few or no grass sprouts, you’ll need to reseed and try again.
Once seedlings are visible, continue your daily watering schedule until the grass is about a half-inch high.
Once the grass it tall enough to mow, reduce the watering to a rate of 1 inch per week. At this stage, it’s more important to water deeply and less frequently than to water every day. This will help the roots establish, so your grass will be ready to survive the coming winter.
If you have questions or would like help with your fall grass planting, contact the experts at Reddi Lawn Care at 316-858-0736 today.
Resources found on our website are provided as general guidelines, and Reddi Industries does not assume any liability resulting from the provided information.