The fall season is perfect for planting grass seed, according to most information sources, expert or not. Some give good explanations for restricting grass planting projects to this late season. You can read these reasons below.
It doesn’t matter to most of you.
Why doesn't it matter? The majority of people who actually plant in the fall don’t do it because they believed it was the best time to plant grass seed.
They do it because that is when they asked the question. The answer coincided with their intention. Does that guarantee success?
After many years of hearing about garden problems, I have concluded that most people ask any lawn or garden question at the time they are most motivated to do something about the issue they face.
You are researching grass seed, so chances are good you will be planting in the next few days or weeks.
So let me provide you with a more complete answer.
It may not be what you expected.
It may help you to determine your first priority.
The hot temperatures of summer are past. This makes it easier to keep the seed moist during germination. The young plants have better growing conditions without extreme heat.
Most of the weeds that compete with grass are dead and diseases are under control for the rest of the year. Weed and disease chemicals cannot be sprayed on new grass without injuring or killing it.
The new grass will have the fall and spring seasons to mature before facing all the stress of summer: heat, traffic, weed competition, mowing, inappropriate watering, diseases, etc.
Planting in fall avoids several springtime problems: cool soil temperatures delay germination; soil may be too moist to prepare; weeds dominate the early growing months.
Higher percentages of seed germination are likely since soil temperature and moisture levels are more favorable or can be controlled more readily.
You may be planning to sow grass seed for a completely new lawn;
need to do over-seeding to thicken your lawn;
or want to patch bare areas in the lawn.
Your success in all of these endeavors depends on much more than knowing when is the best time to plant grass seed.
The answers to these important questions are critical:
The best time to plant grass seed is in the fall, only if you can answer yes to all those questions.
When to plant grass seed in any location? When you are ready.
Any time, any season, if you can answer yes to all of these questions will probably work.
If the weather permits you to be comfortable outdoors, it’s good for grass to grow.
If you are not ready or able to do the proper preparation, then NO TIME is the best time.
Yet, maybe you feel the need to compromise on any of those key areas... but now you know to consider the percentage of success vs. the cost of waiting or not. It's not the season, it's your readiness for the project.
The rule of thumb says you will get the best results by choosing fall as the best time to plant grass seed. Do people plant at other times and get good results? Yes, they do.
People plant grass every year in spring, summer, fall, and winter. They sow, it grows, they mow.
Life is busy. Schedules are full. Weddings, parties and travel may dictate when the lawn gets attention. People get to the point where they are tired of looking at a crummy lawn and they want to fix it. Soon or sooner.
If you are ready to install or repair a lawn using seed, and have good reasons for not waiting until fall, go for it.
It can be a big investment of time, energy and money for some of you. So improve your chances of success by taking care of every step of the project.
If you are afraid to sow grass when it is NOT the best time, don’t worry so much. Since you are so conscientious, you’ll do fine, because you pay attention to details.
The guy who just throws down seed in the fall, because it is the best time, but without much thought or effort will be the disappointed one.
Preparation and good maintenance practices are at least as important as selecting the absolute best time to plant grass seed. Don’t be in such a hurry to get it done that you do it poorly.
Do it the best way, and that will diminish the necessity of selecting the “best time”.
(Am I a rebel for promoting such cavalier practices? Nope. Just an observant fellow hoping to steer people in the right direction, in their time!)
One exception to the standard fall planting mantra says that only cool season grasses should be planted in the fall, while warm season grasses respond better to spring planting.
There is some common sense logic to this idea. But it doesn’t change the concerns mentioned above. In the final analysis, it still comes down to what works best for you, in your location.
Do you know what type of grass seed to plant? Cool season or warm season type? What do you have now? What grows best in your area?
The variety of grass chosen can be impacted greatly by where you live. Talk to professionals at nurseries and garden centers in your area regarding your selection.
Other articles currently on this site provide general truths and principles that apply to most situations. But it is always good to know what is typical or preferred in your local area.
Find out what the local experts say, then take a look at what you need to do and what you are willing and able to do. Decide for yourself what works, by digging up a bit of common sense, when it comes to choosing the best time to plant grass seed!
Learn more about factors that affect the success of planting grass seed in this article, Grass Seed Germination. Then visit the other articles on this Lawn Care Site for step-by-step help with planting the grass and taking care of it.