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The Best Time to Sow Grass Seed

timing for grass seeds

Your yard can be adorned with all sorts of different colorful plants and flowers. However, a big factor that many tend to overlook is the grass.

Essentially the plant that will occupy the most space in the yard, grass significantly contributes to the overall look. They even play a factor in the value of your home when you consider how the grass in your front yard can play a role in your home’s curb appeal.

When it comes to grass maintenance, there’s more than meets the eye than just cutting them at the right time with a great mower for hilly yards. Just like any plant, there are a few factors to consider before you start planting your grass seeds. Keep reading to find out when is the best time to sow grass seeds.

More than One Kind of Grass

People who aren’t familiar with plants may think that grass is just grass. But in fact, there are so many different types of grass with different properties. 

One way to differentiate grasses is to put them into two categories: cool weather grass and warm weather grass.

Different types of plants, like grasses, are more accustomed to certain environments and climates. This means that cool weather grass are types of grass that grow better during the cool seasons (late summer and early fall) while warm weather grass grow better during the warm seasons (late spring and early summer). 

Cool weather grasses include: bent grass, blue grass, fescue, and ryegrass. On the other hand, warm weather grasses include: bahia grass, bermuda grass, buffalo grass, carpet grass, centipede grass, St. Augustine grass, and zoysia grass.   

This does not mean that these two categories of grasses cannot live mutually. Warm weather grasses can certainly grow during the cooler seasons. However, it might take longer and it’d require more work and time to grow them.

Growing the right grass at the right time of the year will result in less waste and a much thicker lawn. 

Climate Zones

For people living in the US, there is a reference that you can consider when planting grass according to climate. The United States National Arboretum actually divides the country into four different climate zones.

This reference can be used for grass. The map specifically divides the parts of the country that have warm/arid, warm/humid, cool/arid, and cool/humid areas.

For example, Texas consists of three different climate zones: warm/humid, warm/arid, and cool/arid.

If you are using the climate zones as a reference, you might possibly find yourself in the Transition Zone, an area that begins in the east and makes its way to the center of the continent. In this zone, there are no specific grasses that grow best which means you can possibly grow both warm season and cold season grasses without any trouble.

Timing is Everything

Sowing grass seeds relies on the right timing. As mentioned above, the climate and temperature are important factors that contribute to how well the grass grows and even the survival rate of the grass seeds.

Understandably, states located in the Northern half of the US would generally have cooler climates while states located in the Southern half generally have warmer climates. However, since the US is still a temperate country, it still experiences changes in seasons such as spring, summer, fall, and winter.

This is in contrast with tropical countries with years generally divided into rainy and dry seasons. 

So, when is the best time to plant grass seeds?

All species of grass have different climates and temperatures that they prefer growing in but things can be simplified for easy understanding. 

Cool Weather Grasses

A good rule of thumb is to sow cool weather grass seeds in the late summer or early fall. If you have access to a thermometer, or even just check the weather reports, the ideal soil temperatures for growing cool weather grasses would be between 50°F and 65°F.

Soil temperatures of this range could possibly mean atmospheric temperatures between 60°F to 75°F. This gives cool weather grass seeds the best chance of survival for multiple reasons.

Firstly, the seeds would avoid the summer heat and dryness that can prevent the seeds from germinating and thriving. Secondly, this is enough time for the grasses to grow and store enough energy for them to survive during the winter. The winter presents harsh conditions for plants which is why many plants remain dormant during this time of the year, relying heavily on stored nutrients. 

Warm Weather Grasses

For warm weather grasses, the best time to plant the seeds would be around early spring to early summer. The ideal soil temperatures would be between 65°F to 70°F, with daytime temperatures reaching about 80°F.

These are seeds that would thrive in the warmth that the season brings. Planting them in early spring and early summer would give them enough time to grow to become dominant enough and establish themselves to thrive during the cooler seasons.

When it comes to warm weather grasses, it is best to plant them at least 90 days before the first fall frost arrives. In general, planting warm weather grass seeds is said to be more difficult than planting cold weather grass seeds because of the time of year.

The best time to sow warm weather grass seeds in your lawn is unfortunately also the same time that disease and drought are more likely. During this time, many other plants are also likely to sprout such as weeds. This means warm weather grasses have to compete for nutrients and space as well.   

Aside from the weather, you can also consider the hardiness of your lawn soil since it also contributes to the promotion of growth of certain grasses. This information can also be provided by checking the references of the United States National Arboretum.

How to Grow Grass from Seeds

Once you have decided which types of grass seeds to grow and when to do it, you can finally begin sowing the seeds on your lawn.

One important aspect to remember is how much water you’ll need. Once the grass seeds are planted, it is important to keep the soil evenly moist. The amount of water that the soil needs to get moist will depend on what type of soil you have.

For example, it is easier to saturate a sandy soil with water compared to a heavy clay type of soil. An inch or two of water down the soil can suffice but it is important to take note that the goal is to keep the seeds wet and not to submerge them in water.

In the warmer seasons, the soil might dry up within the day and you might have to water the soil again.

In terms of water, you also have to consider any precipitation that might have already contributed to the water content of the soil.

Many people get grass seed germination wrong by watering the soil once. This isn’t like the science experiment where you just need to put the beans in a wet tissue overnight. Because of how long the grass seeds take to germinate, you have to keep watering the soil to constant moisture until you actually observe germination. 

After 10-14 days, you should begin to see your land filled with germinated grass. At this point, you can lessen the watering to about 20-30 minutes until the lawn is finally lush with healthy adult grass. 

After you have a lawn or garden filled with grass, you have to evaluate whether it is time to mow the land. It is important to consider that you will only mow the grass once you’re sure that all the grass seeds you want have already germinated and grown. You should also proceed with caution and care as it is important to protect the new seedlings. 

Conclusion

Understanding the best time to plant grass seeds will increase your chances of successfully achieving a healthy, lush and thick lawn. After all, this is a process that takes so much time and effort – you don’t want to get the timing wrong and set your whole endeavor back. Before you start planting your grass seedlings, just make sure you know what grass type it is and that you understand the climate in your area.

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