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.
- 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.
- 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:
- Use a half rate at the time of feeding
- Apply the second half 4 weeks later
- Avoid running or letting kids and pets on the lawn to prevent the seeds from migrating.
- 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.