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When should you sow grass seeds?

Updated February 21, 2017

A healthy lawn can enhance your home's value and provide a place for your family to relax outdoors, but it is important to plant your grass seeds at the right time to ensure that your yard looks its best.

Spring Planting

Most people are inspired to work on their lawns in the springtime, when longer days and sunny weather make working outdoors more enjoyable. If you decide to plant your grass seeds in the spring, be sure to sow them at the beginning of the season, while it is still cool. This will give your seeds the best chance of taking root before the drier, warmer ground inhibits root growth. Depending on what part of the country you live in, start planting as early as late March, or two weeks after the last frost date, or as late as mid-May in the Northeast. This will give your seeds plenty of time to take root and ensure a healthier growth than late spring or early summer planting.

Fall Planting

Fall is the best time to start a new lawn. Begin sowing your seeds after the temperatures have cooled and several weeks before the first frost date. Mid-September planting will ensure that your lawn has time to take root and develop well before the frost sets in and after the ground has recovered from the summer heat. The ground is usually moist enough in September to accommodate seed growth and provide good conditions for rooting.

Weeds

If you plant your seeds in springtime, you will have to be diligent about removing crab grass and dandelions. The competition for moisture and nutrients can destroy an otherwise healthy lawn of seedlings, and since crab grass grows at a much faster rate than typical grass seed, it can completely take over the new lawn before your grass has a chance to take root and thrive. Unless you are planning to use chemical herbicides and fertilisers to help you start your new lawn, you might prefer to hold off on your planting until the fall, when weeds are less likely to thrive and interfere with your new plantings.

Time of Day

Because you will need extremely moist conditions to start seed growth, planting in the early part of the day or late afternoon is preferable to midday seed-sowing. Unless the ground is already saturated or extremely moist, you will need to use a fine mist spray immediately following your seeding in order to get the seeds sprouting. If you have planted your seeds on uneven ground, it is even more important to ensure enough moisture to avoid the problem of seed run-off to lower parts of the ground, which will leave your lawn with bald patches at higher elevations. If you are planting in drier conditions, you may wish to cover your seedlings with burlap or straw in order to give them a chance to take root before wind or run-off relocates them.

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