How to Plant Grass Seed in the Fall

How to Plant Grass Seed in the Fall

1: When to plant grass seed

  • The best time to seed the lawn is in the late summer and early fall. The ground is warm and seeds can get established by the time winter comes around.
  • Spring is also a good time to seed, as the soil will be greater than 60 degrees Farenheit
  • If you have an established lawn, overseed every few years, as grass seeds are constantly improving.
  • Make sure you have a thick turf, so weeds don’t have room to grow in the soil
  • Taller grasses (3in) can also stop weeds

2 : How to prepare your lawn for planting grass seed.

Try to make sure your lawn is in the best shape possible before seeding or overseeding:

Crabgrass and Weeds-

  • If you use chemicals, only spot-treat, rather than spread it all over the lawn.
  • Use a weed control that allows you to re-seed soon after application.

Excess Thatch-

  • Some thatch can help insulate the lawn, but over an inch prevents proper seed growth.
  • A power rake or dethatcher can bring the excess thatch to the surface, which you then rake up and get it off the lawn.

Soil pH-

  • Test the soil pH. You can do this on your own with a kit, or take samples from different spots in the lawn and send them off to a local university extension, like UCONN’s Soil Laboratory .
  • If the pH isn’t between 5.5-7, the grass won’t be able to properly absorb nutrients. You can read this article for some solutions.
  • Aerate the lawn to further improve. This puts small holes in the lawn to get more air and nutrients, and loosen the soil.
  • Use additional products, like Greenlawn Fast Acting Lime, to loosen the soil, promote the flow of air and water, and stimulate microbes in the soil.



  • The damage caused by grubs can cause dead patches in the lawn where weeds will come in.
  • Grub control can be preventative or curative
  • Preventative grub control that contains imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, clothianidin or chlorantraniloprole only work on species that damage in the fall.
  • Curative grub control includes products with carbaryl and trichlorfon. Bayer Grub Killer Plus 24-Hour Control is an example of curative grub control.



3 How to Plant Grass Seed

  • Make sure the seeds have plenty of contact with the soil.
  • Mow the lawn before planting to a height of 2-3 inches
  • There are two ways to plant seed. One way is to a use a broadcast spreader to plant seeds on the surface. Another way is to use a seed slicer to plant seeds deep.
  • Amount of seed needed is relative to the size of the seed. For example, a larger seed like ryegrass needs 8-10 lbs. per 1,000ft2, whereas a smaller seed like bluegrass needs only 2-4lbs. per 1,000ft2.
  • If you're using a seed mix, check the manufacturers instructions, especially because you’ll need to spread more seed with a new lawn than with overseeding. Jonathan Green's Fall Magic and Agway's Sun & Shade Mixture are good choices.
  • Note: planting seeds too densely can halt root development.


4: After planting the seeds

  • Fertilize the lawn, but split the fertilizer between two feedings:
  1. Use a half rate at the time of feeding
  2. Apply the second half 4 weeks later
  • Avoid running or letting kids and pets on the lawn to prevent the seeds from migrating.

5: Watering

  • Water just enough to keep the ground moist, which is one turn of the sprinkler, and don’t water in the evening.
  • Use paper mulches and straw to keep moisture and heat in. Mackey’s recommends EZ-Straw Seeding Mulch with Tack.


6: The first spring

  • Now use a full application of fertilizer
  • Use fertilizes with slow-release product for sustained feeding. Fertilize at the beginning and the end of the spring, usually early April to late May.
Previous episode Mackey's Planting Guide
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