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 04/10/2024

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.

Location

Grass Type

Weather

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.

What month should I put grass seed down? ›

The last five weeks of summer to early autumn, pending the weather, is the best time of year to plant grass seed. At this time, day and nighttime temperatures are cooling, dew is more present on lawns, and annual broadleaf weeds and crabgrass are dying.

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 plant grass seed in May? ›

Spring ranks second for planting cool season grass seed, ideally between April 1st and May 15th, to ensure germination before the cold of March in northern areas. Expect higher weed competition, notably from crabgrass, and avoid overseeding warm season grasses with cool season varieties in spring.

Can I plant seed in April? ›

April is the best time to plant most of your vegetable seeds after your last frost for all zones. It's still not too late to plant tomatoes and peppers from seeds as well! Check out the below vegetables that can be started in April. Be sure to check your gardening zone for last frost dates.

What temperature should grass seed be planted at? ›

Spring seeding and dormant seedings won't germinate until soil temperatures are above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. A range of 50-65 degrees is optimal (measured at a depth of 2 inches). Once we reach this soil temperature, the process of germination will begin.

Is March too early to plant grass seed? ›

Best time to attempt spring grass seeding

The best time to seed in the spring is mid-March through early April. Like fall seeding, the soil must first be prepared. The recommended method is verticutting. A verticut slices grooves in the soil that allows for the necessary seed and soil contact for germination.

What temperature kills grass seed? ›

The ideal temperature range for grass seed is between 55-85°F (12-29°C). Anything below 55°F (13°C) will inhibit the growth of your grass seeds, so it's important to keep an eye on the weather forecast when planting. In cooler climates, you may need to wait until spring or early summer before planting your lawn.

What happens if I plant grass seed too early? ›

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.

Should I put topsoil over grass seed? ›

Yes; in fact, germination will suffer if too much soil is placed on top of the seeds. The experts at Jonathan Green recommend placing a thin layer of mulch or topsoil over them to help keep them moist and warm and promote growth.

Will grass grow on hard packed dirt? ›

The truth is, with the right knowledge and techniques, turning that hard-packed dirt into a thriving green space is entirely achievable. This article demystifies the process, providing you with a comprehensive guide on how to grow grass on hard soil, ensuring that your efforts culminate in a beautiful, resilient lawn.

Can you use too much grass seed? ›

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.

Is April too late to plant grass seed? ›

Stressful summer heat could slow or completely stop the growth of cool-season grasses. Warm-season grasses, on the other hand, are meant to be planted in late spring or early summer. So yes, you can plant cool-season grass in spring, and you should shoot for April if you're doing so.

Is May too late to start seeds? ›

May is not too late to plant as many different varieties as possible! They come small, big, hot, mild, and an array of different colors. Summer Squash (Zones 3-10): Sow summer squash now in May so that you will fresh and tasty squash and zucchini for July!

Is June too late to plant grass seed? ›

Cool-season grass seed germinates best when soil temperatures are between 50°F and 65°F. This roughly corresponds to daytime air temperatures in the 60°F to 75°F range. Given the warnings provided about fungus I am going to hold off seeding until at least late July or early August.

What temperature is too cold for grass seed? ›

The ideal temperature range for grass seed is between 55-85°F (12-29°C). Anything below 55°F (13°C) will inhibit the growth of your grass seeds, so it's important to keep an eye on the weather forecast when planting. In cooler climates, you may need to wait until spring or early summer before planting your lawn.

Can grass grow in 40 degree weather? ›

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. If it's too cold, the grass seeds will likely rot. Here at Jonathan Green we have helped people sow and cultivate lush green lawns for over six generations.

How to plant grass seed on existing lawn in spring? ›

How to Plant Grass Seed on Existing Lawns
  1. Step 1: Before You Over-Seed. Take a moment to consider what could be causing the bare or thin spots. ...
  2. Step 2: Prepare the Area. Before you over-seed your lawn, it is important to properly prepare the area. ...
  3. Step 3: Plant the Seed. Broadcast the seed of your choice. ...
  4. Step 4: Water.

Can I plant grass seed in February? ›

Apply Grass Seed to Bare Spots

Studies have shown that February may be the best month for sowing a cool-season grass. Studies have shown that February may be the best month for sowing a cool-season grass. Dormant seeding may not be successful in areas that experience wide fluctuations in winter temperatures.

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