We’ve all dreamt of having the perfect lawn one time or the other. Dreaming of a lush and inviting lawn where we can have fun with our friends and family is good, but they are just dreams if you don’t do something about it.
These dreams have become realities for many people, while others are still battling with growing that perfect lawn.
What separates these two sets of people? How are two people with the same dream ending up with different results?
The answer is timing.
Timing is almost as important as the grass seed you choose. It can make or mar your lawn. Before I show you why timing is so important, let me ask you a few questions.
Are you a newbie gardener looking to start growing a lawn?
Have you been growing lawns with varying success?
Do you currently have a lawn now not looking its best, like you dreamed?
If the answer to all these questions is yes, you may want to stick around till the end as I’ll be showing you how you’ve been getting the timing of planting all wrong and how you can get it right this time and change your lawn fortunes forever.
Sounds interesting, yea?
Let’s jump right in.
Why it Matters When to Plant Grass Seed?
Choosing the perfect seed for your climate, preparing the soil the best way, and getting the best fertilizers for grass seeds will mean almost nothing if the timing is not right.
You need to plant your grass seed at the right time if you want to get that lawn you’ve always dreamt of. Now this ‘best time’ is not set in stone; it can differ from location to location and seed to seed.
The point is, you should know your seed and location and be able to figure out the best time for you.
The grass seed you grow will determine the best time you should plant.
Why is timing so important? Even though most lawns will stay green throughout the year with the proper care, they do not grow throughout the year. They have peak growing periods and periods where they lie dormant.
Timing your planting to coincide with the grass active growing period is essential. This is so the grass must have grown to a considerable extent before the period of dormancy takes over.
If you plant so close to its dormant period, the grass seed or seedling will not survive the dormancy period.
I mentioned earlier that location and grass seed type are the defining factors for the best grass seed planting time. Your climate determines the grass seed you can grow.
Here is a map showing the climatic conditions of all the US states.
The regions in the northern part are generally cooler than the southern areas. This is the basis of every seed selection.
You need to figure out which zone your location falls into, as this will give you the information you need. Are you in the cooler regions or hotter regions? You will have to plant cool-season grasses if you live in the northern parts, while warm-season grasses do well in the southern area.
Do you live in the Midwest or the gulf coast? You need to factor in humidity levels here and choose grass seeds that will do well with the humidity level in the region.
Grass Seed Types
Generally, grass seeds are classified into two; cool-season grasses and warm-season grasses.
As the name implies, cool-season grasses are suited to cool regions. This grass type grows best where the summer heat is moderate.
Cool-season grasses typically need more water and get the water from the heavy snowfall in the cooler regions. They go dormant during the hot summer months and resume growing once the soil cools down in the fall.
Cool-season grasses include Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, fescue grass, among others.
Warm-season grasses are suited to the warmer southern climate. If you live in this region, this is the grass type you want to grow.
This grass type does not require as much water to grow as the cool-season grasses. That is why they grow comfortably in hotter regions where rainfall is lower and evaporation is high.
Warm-season grasses include Bahia, Bermuda, and centipede grass, among others.
The Best Time to Plant Cool-Season Grasses
After selecting the best grass type for your region, the next thing is to choose the best time to plant grass seed.
For cool-season grasses, the best time to plant is during fall. This is when the weather changes from the summer heat to cooler and conducive weather for this type of seed. The fall also represents the start of the active growing season for the cool-season plant.
You should plant this type of grass once the soil temperature falls below 60 degrees. During this period, the evaporation rate is lower, and this will save you water.
You do not want to wait for long, though, because the seeds will struggle to germinate and grow well once the temperature dips too low. This makes springtime not an ideal time to plant cool-season grasses.
Generally, it takes one to two weeks for the seeds to germinate and another seven to ten weeks for the seedling to grow and be established.
The Best Time to Plant Warm-Season Grasses
Warm-season grasses do well in hotter regions, and it is no surprise the best time to plant grass seed of this type is when the soil temperature is between 65 degrees and 75 degrees.
The spring is the time when the soil reaches this temperature. Planting around late spring to early summer will give your warm-season grass seed the best chance of turning into the lawn of your dreams.
In late spring, the temperature is warm enough but not so hot to affect a new seed. There is also less chance of encountering weeds like crabgrass during that period.
Warm-season grasses go dormant during the winter, so as a rule of thumb, it is advised you plant your grass seeds at least 90 days before the predicted first frost date. This is so the grass would have established itself a little to survive the period of dormancy.
You also want to take care not to plant before a heavy rain as that can disrupt germination.
The best time to plant grass seed depends on your location and seed type. This can be between September and October for cool-season grasses and April to May for warm-season grasses.
Following this planting schedule will give your seeds the best chance of survival. This is assuming the seeds used are stored properly, the seeds receive the right amount of water and you adhere to other grass growing best practices.