Planting Grass Seed In Fall
Learn the benefits of seeding in the fall.
Fall does what no other season can do. Its warm, sunny days and cool, dewy nights provide ideal conditions for growing new grass and developing your lawn’s source of strength, a deep and dense root system.
Your most successful seeding time is right around Labor Day. Seeding 2 weeks before or after that easy-to-remember holiday gives your new seedlings time to build strong roots. In fact, overseeding with grass seed and fertilizer in the fall can make your lawn up to 49% thicker next spring* and it will be better able to resist weeds and summer stresses.
*2008-2009 Scotts Field Trials, Marysville, OH vs. no treatment
Preparing The Soil For A New Lawn
Before applying the seed is the best time to kill off the weeds.
Dont put the seed down and try to kill off the weeds later because especially in the uk it can be difficult to target some of those types of weeds because there arent any selective weed killers for certain weed grasses like POA Aunnua and other grasses you dont want in your lawn.
Make sure you leave enough time after applying weed killer before planting new seeds and follow the manufacturer recommendations
Till over the soil so youve got a nice seed bed for the soil to sit in and refer back to a previous tip which is sit them in the top quarter inch of the soil
What To Expect From Newly Planted Grass Seed
Proper timing allows all types of grass seedlings to root well and get established before natural stresses hit. What that looks like in your lawn can vary depending on your grass type, your growing region and the conditions in any given year.
Grass types and varieties vary in their natural germination speeds. For example, cool-season Kentucky bluegrass germination can take two to three times as long as tall fescue varieties. Similarly, warm-season Zoysia grass may take two to three times longer than Bermudagrass. In addition, many seed products include a mix of seed types that germinate at different speeds.
Whether you’re repairing bare spots, overseeding an existing lawn or starting from scratch, you can generally expect grass seedlings to emerge within seven to 21 days when grown under proper conditions. It may take another three to four weeks of growth before grass is long enough to mow. For fall-planted seed, this can mean waiting until spring for your first mowing. Some grasses, such as Zoysia grass, may need several months of growth to fully establish.
Much of the initial growth of new grass seedlings happens underground, where you can’t see it. New roots get grass firmly established, prepared for the seasons ahead and positioned for strong, rapid growth when their peak season arrives. With proper timing, new grass seedlings compete well for light, water and nutrients and fight off lawn diseases and pests, including lawn weeds.
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Federal Seed Act Guarantees Accurate Labeling
When it comes to selecting seeds, you have an ally the Federal Seed Act. First enacted in 1939 and amended five times since, the Seed Act requires seed sellers to provide consumers with valuable information on the seeds labels.
Under the law, the label must tell you:
- The name of the grass variety .
- Its purity, that is, the weight by percentage of each type of seed.
- Germination percentage. The percentage of the seeds that you can expect to germinate. This is not a number the seed companies can fudge. The federal government expects seed producers to run regular germination tests and keep careful records.
- Weed seed percentage. Look for a seed that has less than 0.5 percent weeds.
Water The Seeded Area
Proper moisture is essential for proper seed germination. Lightly water the newly seeded area with your garden hose or sprinkler twice a day early morning and early evening until the new grass is at least 1-inch tall. Then you can cut back the watering to about once a week.
Aim to keep kids and pets off the seeded area until the new grass is established.
Here are a few more fall lawn tips to help prepare for a healthy spring.
Continue to mow your lawn at the highest setting on your mower until it begins to go dormant. Then you can you can drop the setting to 2-inch height for northern grasses and the 1-inch height for southern grasses. Check directions from your seed manufacturer for other mowing information.
Continue to mow over fallen leaves. You mower will shred them into a mulch that will slowly decompose over the colder months. The decaying leaves will provide nitrogen and other nutrients to your soil, which will help your grass.
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How To Prepare A Lawn
Before you put down your seeds, you should prepare your lawn and the soil for the best possible outcome. Here are a few tips to prep your lawn for new growth:
- Check Soil Tilth: Soil tilth is the general conditions of soil that support plant growth such as pH, fauna, drainage, and aeration. Grasses prefer soil with a pH of 6.2-7.0. The soil should be well-drained and aerated.
- Clear Trash and Weeds: Weeds can compete with grasses for nutrients, stunting new seed growth. Trash can contaminate the soil creating an unfit environment.
- Solarize the Soil: Soil solarization is the process of wetting the soil and covering it with a clear transparent tarp so that the heat of the sun becomes trapped in the soil and kills weed seeds. This ensures that weeds do not compete with your new grasses.
- Map Out Planting: If you are growing multiple grass species, map out the soil before you start spreading your grass seeds for a planned arrangement or proper blending.
Tip : How To Water New Grass Seed
Tip number three is all about watering, most people forget this crucial step with regards to sowing grass seed during its germination period especially during the first week or two needs to be kept moist.
This doesnt mean sitting in pools of water because thats going to cause the seed to rot.
Conversely it doesnt mean keeping it bone dry because thats going to slow down or even prevent the germination from happening.
Keeping the soil moist throughout the first couple of weeks is a really key step this could involve short bursts of water in for maybe five minutes a couple of times a day throughout the germination period.
You can also improve the moisture retention during this period by adding a layer of soil or topdressing over the top which will help retain and lock in that moisture in between the seed and the soil.
One other thing to think about which is a little bit more advanced is the type of soil you have.
For a clay soil this is generally going to be colder and hold more moisture and if youve got a sandy soil this is typically going to be more free draining.
Keep it simple, water your new seed for a couple of times a day for the first two weeks and youll get great results.
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What Is The Best Grass Seed For Dormant Seeding
Cool-season grasses such as bluegrass, turf-type tall fescue, and perennial rye grass are best for dormant seeding. Macho Mix fescue seed, Estate Mix bluegrass seed,Premium Shade Mix, and Stadium Special perennial rye are all cool-season grass seed blends and mixes that will perform perfectly for dormant seeding. Cool-season grasses like turf-type tall fescue and perennial rye sown over cold winter soils will germinate sooner than the same grass seed sown in April.
Top Seeding Tips For Planting Grass In Fall
- Research your seed mixture options. Typically the higher the price the better the seed. This is not the time to skimp.
- Prepare the soil before sowing the seed. Loosen the soil by scratching the surface lightly with a garden tool or bow rake.
- Sow the recommended amount of seed, apply a quality starter fertilizer and gently scratch both into the top one-quarter inch of soil. No deeper.
- Keep the newly seeded area moist during seedling establishment and four to six weeks after. This will ensure those tender new seedlings grow into a thick, healthy turf.
- Apply a second application of starter fertilizer 30 to 45 days after seeding.
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Why Spring Is Best For Warm
Warm-season grasses germinate best when soil temperatures are consistently in the 65°F to 70°F range. This generally corresponds to daytime air temperatures near 80°F or more. Planting in late spring and early summer gives warm-season grasses the advantage of warm soil and early seasonal rains, which help keep soil moisture available during germination and establishment.
Moderate spring weather helps spring-planted grass seed flourish.
As with cool-season grasses, best warm-season planting times vary by location. In California, mid-April to mid-May is prime time for seeding warm-season lawns.3 In central and southern Arkansas, lawn owners plan their warm-season grass seeding for late May through June.2 It’s tempting to get out and seed at the first hint of spring, but patience pays off. Wait until all danger of frost has passed and soil warms. Cold, wet soil is a recipe for poor germination, rotting seed and disease. Your county extension agent can help with expected frost dates and timely advice when unexpected weather conditions factor in.
One exception to the spring seeding rule for warm-season lawns is when overseeding with a cool-season grass, such as perennial ryegrass, for temporary winter color. Overseeding for green winter grass is always done in fall, once temperatures drop and warm-season lawns begin to go dormant and lose color.
How To Aerate And Overseed Your Lawn
Want a greener lawn?
Look, apart from regular mowing. One of the best ways to make your lawn shine is to aerate and overseed.
Why are aeration and overseeding so important?
More importantly, how do you aerate and overseed your lawn properly?
All of that and more will be answered into this go-to aeration guide.
Here is what you need to know…
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Three: Watering And Maintenance
Watering is one of the most important aspects of successful overseeding. You need to water the seeds into your lawn immediately after spreading, and continue to water daily until the seeds germinate, which can take up to two weeks. The first watering should be a heavy watering . After that, your watering can be lighter. Once the grass has germinated, be sure to water every few days giving the grass a good deep soaking. When the grass is fully established and the same height as the existing lawn, water it according to the instructions for that type of grass. While the new grass is getting established, try to limit activity on the lawn and avoid mowing as long as possible. Once the grass is the same height as the existing lawn, you can continue to mow as you normally would.
How To Plant Grass Seed: A Simple Guide To Success
Lawns are everywhere. Some are highly tended others, not so much. My own lawn is a mixed planting of three types of turf grass , clover, violets, ground ivy, and various other weeds, which is exactly how I like it . Regardless of how perfectionistic you are about your lawn, at one point or another, youll find yourself needing to plant grass seed. Whether its to fill in a bare spot left behind by Fido or a wayward snowplow, or to install a brand-new lawn after a construction project, learning how to plant grass seed is a necessity for most homeowners. This article offers a simple guide to success, no matter the reason for your reseeding efforts.
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Choose The Correct Grass Seed
Choose a grass that is right for your lifestyle, budget, and location. Start by thinking about the type of lawn you want and the growing conditions in your area. Will the lawn get full sun or partial? Will it get a lot of foot traffic or be used by pets? If youre unsure what type of grass you should grow, check out our Grass Seed Identifier article, which will help you find a grass type that matches your growing conditions.
You Dont Keep Your Lawn Moist After Aerating And Overseeding
After planting the seeds, you must make sure theyre covered with moist soil at least a fourth of an inch to foster growth. A common mistake rookie aerators and overseeders make is thinking that the natural rain cycle will provide all the water you need, but a few days without moisture could mean bad news for a new seed.
For about three weeks after seeding, or until the grass begins to peek out of the dirt, set a daily watering schedule. Once the grass has gained a little height, you can ease back to your normal pattern.
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Select A Quality Grass Seed Product
Better seed yields better lawns. Always use grasses recommended for your regional climate and choose top-quality grass seed you can depend on. Pennington Smart Seed products provide premium grass seed appropriate for sun, shade or high-traffic areas in lawns in northern or southern regions. Three-in-one Pennington Lawn Booster combines superior Smart Seed varieties with premium-grade fertilizer and soil enhancer.
Caring For Newly Seeded Areas
- MOWING: With mulching mower set at highest setting, you can begin mowing after 6 weeks. As lawn thickens, gradually lower mower setting with each mowing to a height no lower than 3. For non-irrigated lawns, keep at the highest setting during summer to preserve moisture. A high cut results in deeper, more drought-resistant roots, slower regrowth, hardier turf, cooler soil with higher water retention, and greater resistance to weeds, insects, and disease.
- FERTILIZE: Lawns that are re/overseeded in spring should be fertilized in September and November with all-purpose Elements fertilizer. When lawns are re/overseeded in fall, no fertilizer is needed until the following spring.
- NO WEED CONTROL: Never apply pre-emergent crabgrass control at the time of seeding. New seedlings can be harmed by weed control, so we recommend waiting until the following season when the new grass will be a bit more mature.
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You Dont Choose The Right Equipment
Weve all seen the do-it-yourselfers walking across their lawn in cleats, poking holes in the soil. Instead of investing in an aeration machine, they think aerating is just about creating holes but actually, the concentrated force of stepping with a spiked shoe further compacts your soil. Even spike aerators, which use a solid tine or fork to poke holes, can cause additional compaction in the areas around the holes.
For best results, use a plug aerator, which removes a core, or plug, of grass and soil from your lawn. Look for an aerating tool or machine that removes soil plugs approximately two to three inches deep and roughly half to three quarters of an inch in diameter, about two to three inches apart.
Best Grass Seeds For Northern States
If you live in a Northern state, select a cool-season grass. Cool-season grasses thrive in the late spring and early fall months in the northern two-thirds of the United States. Northern grass seed products grow best when temperatures are 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit.
The most popular cool-season lawn grasses are:
- Bentgrass seed. One of the standard grasses for golf course putting greens, some bentgrass varieties, such as Colonial Bentgrass, are made for home lawns. It likes to be cropped short.
- Kentucky bluegrass seed. This is the classic choice for Northern lawns and was brought to the United States during the colonial days. Wants full sun, not shade tolerant.
- Fine Fescue seed. This perennial bunchgrass doesnt mind poorly drained areas.
- Tall fescue mix seed. Puts down deep roots, so a tall fescue lawn is drought tolerant.
- Creeping fescue seed. Although slow to germinate and spread, this fescue seed has tolerance for shade, and low maintenance requirements make it a good choice for large expanses. It is also a good companion for bluegrass since it will thrive in shady spots where bluegrass will not.
- Ryegrass seed. The annual variety is used for a quick shot of green. Its permanent, perennial cousin is noted for its wear tolerance, so its a good choice for places where children will romp.
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The Best Of The Best In Indiana
The very best time to seed your lawn in Indiana is in fall when cooler temperatures prevent seeds from drying out, but theres still enough sun and rain to encourage a strong start before winter hibernation. Because crabgrass and other weeds die off this time of year, seeds also have a better chance for success without a lot of competition. Spring comes in a close second with cool conditions and plenty of moisture. And while timing is of the essence, so is a little research.
This year, weve done it for you! Check out this list of Indianas most common lawn grasses, their strengths, and potential weaknesses. It all depends on your lawn requirements. Just below, youll also find a list of Execu-Turf grass seed blends that bring the best of all varieties together.
Indianas Common Lawn Grasses
- FOR NEW LAWNS: 3lb/1000sq ft or 130lb/acre
- OVERSEEDING: 4-5lb/1000sq ft
Cold Stratification Part Of The Natural Growth Cycle
Can new grass seed survive a frost? Yes.
In nature most seed falls from plants in the fall, lies dormant over the winter and then germinates when soil warms in the spring.
That said, under certain circumstances, frost can cause significant harm for your grass seed.
Wide temperature fluctuations are harmful to new grass seed. Beyond the fact that grass seed wont germinate unless temperatures are warm enough, there are other concerns with frost.
If there are several cycles of freezing and thawing, the water that comes from melting frost will gather and surround the seeds. When this happens, mold can grow and seeds can rot.
This side-effect from frost can do more harm to seeds than frost itself.
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