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Best Time To Plant Grass Seed

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Choose Your Type of Grass For The Best Time To Plant It

Your grass type must be either a cool season grass or a warm season grass. The time of planting will be determined by the type of grass -- click on the link below to find out the best time to plant your grass!

There are both Temperature ranges and Seasonal times in which certain grasses will perform best. Planting at other than these times can result in delayed germination or even failure and death of the seeds or seedlings. Read below a general recommendation from turf experts based on temperatures ranges. Check with your local Cooperative extension service for the best time to plant in your area.

Cool Season Grass Areas

TIPS ON WHEN TO PLANT COOL SEASON GRASSES - (Fescues, Kentucky Bluegrass, Bentgrass, Perennial Ryegrass). Cool season grasses are planted from the upper south and Midwest to Northern areas. These year-round green grasses are best planted in the fall and spring of each year. Early fall is considered by turf experts to be the best planting date because this allows for more growing time under ideal growth conditions (fall and spring growing season). Spring is considered second best. In some cases, planting in both fall and spring (2 times) can work to increase successful cover on problem areas.

Plant Cool Season Grass Seed When Daytime Temperatures Are
Between 60 & 75 Degrees (Soil Temp of 50 - 65°)

Cool season grass germinates best when the soil temperatures are between 50 and 65 degrees F. These temperatures usually occur when the daytime air temperatures are between 60 and 75 degrees. High temperatures of summer can cause these plants to go dormant and thus planting during summer is asking for problems. Start planting your cool season grass seeds when the temperatures reach 75 and are dropping as fall / winter approaches. Or have reached 60 and are rising in the spring. Planting in summer can occur, but irrigation becomes a critical factor in establishment. Planting when night time temperatures are above 70? should be avoided.

Dormancy often occurs in cool season grass growth at temperatures above 90 and below 50 degrees. Basically the cool season grass stops growing when dormancy occurs. Also, be aware that a freezes and/or frost can damage or kill immature seedlings that have not had enough growing time to harden off to survive a return to dormancy. That is why you should be careful about planting once soil temps are declining below 50 degrees. When day highs start going below 55 and the danger of a freeze or frost is present, you will have a HIGHER risk of the possibility of encountering problems.

Problems You May Encounter With Late Seeding

  • First the seeds may be slow and sporadic to germinate or perhaps even not germinate.
  • Secondly once temps are below 50 degrees you have a higher risk of an immediate freeze or frost occurring. Should that happen right around the time your seedlings emerge, you run the risk of the freeze/frost damaging or killing them.
  • Third even should you have a warm spell and the seedlings germinate, they could still die in the winter simply because as temps cool down they will not grow much... which means they will have "little" in the way of "food" stored in their root system. In this case they could simply die of starvation.
  • Best course of action unless you don't mind the risk of failure in late seeding is to wait until spring.
  • Also seeding in late spring / early summer runs a risk of high heat & diseases taking a toll on your plantings.

Warm Season Grass Areas

TIPS ON WHEN TO PLANT WARM SEASON GRASSES - (Bahiagrass, Centipede, Zoysia, Bermudagrass, Buffalograss). Warm season grasses are planted from the upper south and mid-west to Southern areas. These seasonal grasses are best planted in the spring to late spring / early summer of each year. Early summer is considered by turf experts to be the best planting date because summer temperatures and rainfall allow for faster germination and rapid establishment of the grass. (Planting in most Southern US areas can occur from March through August - Later summer planting is possible further south - April/May may be earliest window for planting in more Northern state locations.

Plant Warm Season Grass When Daytime Temperatures Are
80+ Degrees (Soil temp of 70+ degrees):

Warm season grasses grow best when the soil temperatures are above 70 degrees F. These temperatures usually occur when the daytime air temperature reaches around 80 degrees. Night time temps are also a GOOD indicator of the soil temps... When night time temps are 65-70 degrees your soil temps should be very close to the same temperature. Cool temperatures can inhibit germination and also cause adult plants to go dormant. Thus planting in the fall is more risky both because germination might occur and because of potential risk of damage to smaller seedlings from an early frost or freeze

Most failures with warm season grasses occur because of planting too early!
If you are anxious and start planting warm season grasses while the soil temp is still cool in early spring... This can result in weeds germinating (while your seeds wait for warmer temps) and taking up plant "turf space" limiting the intended grass from germination in that area. Later when your new grass seeds germinate a lot of the turf space is already occupied by larger robust weeds that take valuable resources from your new grass (Weeds soak up moisture, nutrients, sunlight and occupy real estate / soil area).

BEST RESULTS Occur with planting in late spring or early summer. This is best for warm season grasses once temperatures (soil 65-70 degrees plus are ideal) reach acceptable levels AND all danger of freeze / frost is past.

Fall Planting Risks

In the fall you should not plant a warm season grass later than 60 days before first frost (in southern areas) and 90 days before first frost in more Northern cooler locations. This deadline is so as to allow for growth of a warm season grass to reach enough maturity (by storing food reserves) to survive winter dormancy. Sod & Sprigs of Warm Seasons grasses will not produce roots unless the soil temperature exceeds 55° F for several weeks. You should take this into consideration if planting sod also. Also, be aware that a freezes and/or frost can damage or kill immature seedlings that have not had enough growing time to harden off to survive a return to dormancy when temperatures warm.

Additional Grass Planting Resources

PLANTING METHODS: How do I plant grass seeds?
STATE BY STATE LAWN GRASS PLANTING GUIDE: http:// www.lawngrass.com 
ANSWER TO YOUR LAWN QUESTIONS: http://www.turfhelp.com

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