Exactly When to Plant Grass Seed in Spring (2024)

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Exactly When to Plant Grass Seed in Spring (1)

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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.

Exactly When to Plant Grass Seed in Spring (2)Written byStephanie KoncewiczUpdated 04/19/2024

Stephanie Koncewicz

Stephanie is an experienced digital content strategist and producer with a background in journalism. She covered education and local government as a news reporter before transitioning to digital media, with content highlights including video production for DIY projects and the creation of data visua…

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Planting grass seed is an efficient way to create a fuller and greener lawn and provide 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. We’ll explain the factors that influence seeding times, how to prepare your lawn for planting, and how to maintain growth throughout the year. We’ll also provide our recommendation for the best lawn care service to help you with this process.

Factors That Influence Seeding Times

While many homeowners have a lawn care schedule in the spring, it’s not enough to just plant seeds 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 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 North, experience freezing temperatures that require cool-season grasses. Transition zones, which have hot summers but also cold winters, may use a mix of cool- and warm-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. However, you can overseed with cool-season grass in the late spring or early summer with some care.

It’s important to keep an eye on weather conditions. For example, light rain may help seeds grow, though a heavy downpour could wash seeds away. Check the forecast 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. Preparing 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.

Level the Lawn

Before planting new seed, it’s important to remove any rocks and debris. Additionally, be sure to level the 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 nutrients that can give rise to nuisance plants.

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.

Try Aeration

When your soil has become dense and compacted, it’s time to aerate your lawn. This loosens your tightly-packed soil and helps with weed control while allowing water and nutrients to reach grass roots. 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 contact lawn care professionals who have access to core aerator machines.

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, but don’t do so at the same time as you spread grass seeds or they won’t germinate.

Use Fertilizer

Fertilizing provides new lawns with concentrated nutrients needed to establish a strong root system. Cool-season grasses should be fertilized in the fall, while warm-season grasses can be fertilized throughout the summer. If you’re planting new grass seed, choose a starter fertilizer, which has a specific blend of 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 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 new grass regularly but don’t overwater, as this will damage the growing grass.

Wait until at least two months before mowing your lawn. Grass will be around 3 inches in height when it’s ready to be cut.

Once the grass is established, use a slow-release fertilizer or organic compost to add nutrients to your growing lawn.

Our Conclusion

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.

FAQ About When to Plant Grass Seed

Is March too early to plant grass seed?

March is too early to plant most grass seeds. Unless you live in a warm region, temperatures will be too low at this time of year. Be sure to wait until daily temperatures average around 80°F to plant warm-season grass and 5065°F for cool-season grass.

Can you plant grass seed too early in the spring?

Yes, you can plant grass seed too early in the spring. Planting too early in the spring can cause poor germination, which harms the growing seeds. Wait for the air and soil temperature to warm up enough to plant your grass seed. Each grass is different, so check labels for specifics.

What month is best to put grass seed down?

The best month to put grass seed down depends on the type of grass you have and where you live. The best time to plant grass seed for cool-season grasses is in early fall or around September. For warm-season grasses, late spring or early summer (May to June) is the optimal time.

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

You can plant grass seed in the fall to get it to grow in the spring through a process called dormant seeding. This type of seeding is done by putting down seed while the ground is not yet frozen but is still cold enough to prevent seed growth until the spring.

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Exactly When to Plant Grass Seed in Spring (2024)

FAQs

Exactly When to Plant Grass Seed in Spring? ›

Best time to attempt spring grass seeding

How early in the spring can you plant grass seed? ›

Spring seeding is your second best option for planting cool-season grasses. Aim to seed early in the season, but wait until daytime temperatures are in the 60 to 75 degree Fahrenheit range. This roughly corresponds to the optimal soil temperatures for cool-season grass seed germination.

Is May too late to plant grass seed? ›

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. In central and southern Arkansas, lawn owners plan their warm-season grass seeding for late May through June.

What month should I put grass seed down? ›

The best month to put grass seed down depends on the type of grass you have and where you live. The best time to plant grass seed for cool-season grasses is in early fall or around September. For warm-season grasses, late spring or early summer (May to June) is the optimal time.

Can I just throw grass seed on bare spots? ›

Can I Just Throw Grass Seed on Bare Spots? Throwing grass seed onto bare spots will result in little-to-no germination and will not help to repair lawn spots. If you want to fix patches on grass, you need to properly prepare the bare spots before laying down the seed.

Can I just throw grass seed down on an existing lawn? ›

When you just sprinkle grass seed on an existing lawn, it ends up just sitting atop of the soil and a lot of it may never germinate. Then homeowners end up asking the question, why can't I get my grass to grow? In reality, the best practice is to have lawn aeration performed followed by overseeding the lawn.

What happens if I plant grass seed too early? ›

If done too early, some seed will germinate late in the season and those immature seedlings often won't survive the winter. Put down your seed while the ground is not frozen, but is still cold enough so germination of the grass seed will not occur until next spring.

What temperature kills grass seed? ›

If you're wondering how cold is too cold for grass seed germination use our rule of thumb and check the weather reports. If the daytime temperature is below 60°F then soil temperature is below 50°F, making it too cold; if there is frost or still a danger of frost, then it's too cold.

Is it OK to overseed in May? ›

In most seasons it can be applied in early to mid-May and still provide excellent season long control.

Should I put topsoil down before grass seed? ›

Prep the lawn for seeding

'To prepare your soil before planting grass seed, simply till and loosen the soil to create the best growing conditions – you don't need to put down topsoil,' says Jeremy Yamaguchi, CEO of Lawn Love.

Should you water right after putting grass seed down? ›

Simply insert a long screw driver into the ground. If it pushes down 6 to 8 inches without much resistance, you have the proper water saturation. Water new grass seed for 5 to 10 minutes immediately after planting to gently moisten the first several inches of soil.

Can you put too much grass seed down? ›

Quality grass seed labels include guidance on optimal seeding rates to maximize your results. Don't overdo or cut corners. Too much grass seed causes undue competition for resources such as light, water and nutrients, and grass seedlings struggle as a result. Too little seed leaves lawns thin or bare.

How to prepare ground for grass seed? ›

Prepare Your Soil

Remove large rocks and debris, fill in low spots, and if your soil is compacted, work it over with a tiller. Your goal is to break the soil down to pea- or marble-sized particles, which will serve as a welcome mat for the grass seed.

What happens if you don't rake in grass seed? ›

If you simply toss the grass seed onto the soil, you will end up with poor germination. Thoroughly rake the area to remove any loose debris and to create grooves in the soil. These grooves will help increase the seed-to-soil contact that is imperative for germination.

Will grass grow on hard packed dirt? ›

Will Grass Grow on Hard Packed Dirt? If you do nothing and simply throw some seeds into hard-packed dirt, the chances of grass growing are slim. You might get some isolated turfs but not a uniform lawn.

Does putting grass clippings on bare spots help grass grow? ›

Grass clippings contain nutrients and can help enrich the soil of bare spots to prepare for new grass to grow. It also aids in moisture retention.

When should I start seeding for spring? ›

start indoors. General rule of thumb for most varieties is to start seeds six weeks before the last frost. Know your growing zone.

Can I overseed my lawn in early spring? ›

If your lawn is not performing up to your expectations, you can re-establish a healthier, better-looking lawn by overseeding it. The best time to overseed an existing lawn is from late summer to early fall, but it can still be a success when done in spring.

Can grass grow in 40 degree weather? ›

Grass seed will typically germinate at temperatures between 40-80°F (4.5-26.7°C).

What is the best grass seed to plant in spring? ›

In the cooler Northern states, cool-season grasses like Kentucky Bluegrass, Tall Fescue, and Perennial Ryegrass are the top choices. They can withstand freezing temperatures and grow best in the spring and fall.

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