Are you anxious to seed your lawn to fill in bare spots? The truth is, seeding in the spring is not a good idea. Read these tips on when to plant grass seed and how to achieve the best results. The secret to a thick full lawn is overseeding.
Lawn Aeration, Seeding, & Topdressing: Everything You Need to Know
If you have bare or thin spots in your lawn then you might be thinking about seeding. Seeding can be a great way to solve these problems, however, homeowners often mistakenly assume that it’s something they can have performed any time during the year. For optimal results, that’s simply not the case.
Because we want the best for your lawn, we’ll explain when to plant grass seed in spring or fall and how to achieve the best results.
Can I Seed my Lawn in the Spring?
This is a question that we receive quite often. If you have a lawn that has bare spots or thin areas, then you might be anxious to seed in order to fill them in. But the truth is, seeding in the spring is not a good idea for two key reasons that we’ll explain.
You Can’t Put Down Some Lawn Care Materials
If you’ve seeded in the spring, then you can’t put down crabgrass preventer for approximately 3 months afterward, and at that time, it will be too late to prevent crabgrass.
The material being applied will not know the difference between a desired turfgrass seed and a crabgrass seed, and will ultimately prevent both from growing.
Sometimes people ask us about just skipping crabgrass control but in our opinion, this is risky. Skipping crabgrass control can become a potentially serious concern because of how quickly the pesky weeds can spread. Crabgrass also grows most freely in the thinner areas of your lawn, such as the ones you may have seeded, which makes seeding a bad idea.
Likewise, broadleaf weed control cannot be applied until your new grass seed begins to grow and has matured enough to mow it a couple times. Again, that time frame will end up being very late in the spring to early summer and at that time, your lawn will have also developed quite a crop of weeds along the way.
The Upcoming Weather is Not Ideal
While the springtime weather may be fine for growing grass seed, it won’t be long until the hot summer sun impacts growing conditions. Most people assume that winter is the most challenging time for grass but it’s actually the summer. It’s very difficult to keep brand-new grass seedlings alive with the heat of the summer sun beating down.
The Best Time to Plant Grass in Virginia
You might be wondering when is the best time to plant grass in Virginia if it’s not the spring. Ideally, seeding should always be performed in the fall. Not only does this allow you to get through the spring season utilizing the professional weed control products that your lawn will need to look its best, but weather conditions in the fall are ideal for new seedling growth.
The weather is cool, the ground is moist, and the soil is still warm. In these conditions, your lawn will develop a healthy root system that will allow it to become established in plenty of time before the summer stress sets in.
When it comes to broadleaf weed control, you can apply a late summer or early fall application of this material and then wait approximately a week and seed your lawn. This allows for getting rid of most of the weeds in the lawn prior to seeding and then not having to worry about them for the rest of the fall.
Of course, you might also be wondering specifically when to plant grass seed in fall? The optimal time is anywhere between late August (technically late summer) through the end of October or possibly even early November. It’s not so much the exact time as it is the weather conditions.
Is There Ever a Time to Plant Grass Seed in Spring?
Even though we tell homeowners that seeding the lawn in the spring is not ideal, we occasionally still have people who really want it done. This is usually the case for homeowners who just bought a home and have no grass at all or have so many bare spots that they’re desperate for at least some new grass.
In these circumstances, it’s all about expectations.
We are honest with homeowners that we can seed their lawn in the spring but chances are only about half of it may survive, if they’re lucky. They may also have to deal with weeds in their lawn since we can’t put product down. Then we’ll still need to re-seed in the fall and perform aeration or power seeding. Once homeowners look at it this way and recognize that they’ll be paying for seeding twice (without much luck on the first go-around), they usually just choose to wait.
Of course, another option, for the homeowner who is truly desperate for grass, is laying sod. This is another service that we can offer should you not be able to wait for seeding in the fall (plus the process of nurturing and growing that new grass).
Laying down sod is basically like getting an “instant lawn” and some homeowners decide to do it if they have a party coming up or just can’t wait for the grass to grow. However, you should know that it can be costly and the bigger the yard you have, the more it will be. For that reason, this is something we perform for townhomes or small sections of lawns more often than the entirety of expansive properties.
Wanting the Best for You
We have no doubt that there are lawn care companies in Northern Virginia that will agree to seed your lawn in the spring even though they know it’s not the ideal timing. Companies like these do not have your best interest at heart and would rather just get paid for the work.
At Kingstowne, you can always count on us to give you the honest truth, even when we know it’s not always what you would prefer to hear. Though it can be hard to wait when you really want to seed sooner, waiting until the optimum time to seed your lawn will pay off with better results (and a wiser investment on your behalf).
Our objective is to do what’s best for you, even when it means forgoing potential revenue we could earn in the spring. Ideally, we would love to see all of our customers hold off on seeding until the fall so that you can have the best possible outcome.
If you’re ready to work with an honest company who is committed to doing what’s best for your lawn, then request a quote and relax while we get to work.
How to Overseed or Reseed Your Lawn
There’s a secret behind achieving a beautiful, lush lawn. Landscape professionals know what it is, but many homeowners don’t. Overseeding—as part of a comprehensive, proactive plan—keeps lawns looking great. Whether you’re tending your first lawn or have years of experience, learning how to overseed your lawn can improve your results.
Overseeding is spreading grass seed over an existing lawn. Done right, it’s a straightforward process that gets results. As grasses mature, thinning is normal—especially if you enjoy your lawn and use it often. Overseeding keeps your lawn competitive and steeped in youth and vigor, without starting over from scratch.
The basics of overseeding are the same everywhere, but goals and timing vary based on geography and the type of grass grown. For success with overseeding your lawn, follow this basic guide:
Establish Your Goal
Homeowners overseed to correct thin lawns, but pros overseed to prevent thinning. For lawns in southern regions, overseeding warm-season grasses with cool-season reinforcements adds green color during winter. When warm-season grasses go brown, overseeding with a premium, cool-season ryegrass, such as Pennington Annual Ryegrass, provides a green temporary lawn while your permanent, warm-season grasses are dormant.
Time the Task
The best time for planting cool-season grasses in northern regions is late summer to early fall, when they’re growing most vigorously. Spring is the second best time. The warm soil encourages seed germination, cool fall air stimulates growth, and soil moisture stays more constant. Tough, warm-season lawn weeds, such as crabgrass and nutsedge, are less active in fall, too. The Turfgrass Water Conservation Alliance service recommends overseeding at least 45 days before your average first fall frost. 1 In southern areas, overseed thinning lawns in late spring, as warm-season grasses enter active growth. For winter color, overseed southern lawns in fall. Wait until nighttime temperatures drop consistently below 65°F and your existing warm-season lawn slows and begins to lose color.
Prepare the Area
Mow your lawn extra short and remove the clippings, so new seed contacts soil and gets sunlight and water. Set your mower at two inches or less for regular overseeding. For southern lawns and winter color, set the blade as low as it goes, and cut just above the soil—what’s known as scalping. Rake the soil with a metal thatch rake to remove thatch, clippings and debris. This loosens and exposes soil to receive seed.
Correct Existing Lawn Problems
For troubles beyond normal thinning, test your soil and make corrections before overseeding. Follow test recommendations for using soil amendments and repairing bare lawn spots. If needed, take time to dethatch and core aerate compacted lawns so air, moisture and seed can get to the soil. Pennington One Step Complete products combine premium seed with a stabilized-release fertilizer and wood mulch to simplify lawn repairs.
Select a Quality Grass Seed Product
Better seed yields better lawns. Always use grasses recommended for your regional climate and choose top-quality grass seed you can depend on. Pennington Smart Seed products provide premium grass seed appropriate for sun, shade or high-traffic areas in lawns in northern or southern regions. Three-in-one Pennington Lawn Booster combines superior Smart Seed varieties with premium-grade fertilizer and soil enhancer.
Spread Your Seed
Apply seed at label-recommended overseeding rates, using the lawn spreader that suits the job. Use drop or broadcast spreaders for large lawns and handheld spreaders for smaller areas. For small spots, simply seed from your hand. Work when the air is calm, so seed distributes evenly.
Fertilize Overseeded Areas
Avoid weed & feed products; the pre-emergent herbicides inhibit seed germination. Starter fertilizer, such as Pennington Ultragreen Starter Fertilizer 12-22-8, delivers essential nutrients for new grass. Phosphorus supports vigorous root growth, while nitrogen fuels top growth and greening. Some states and counties restrict phosphorus lawn fertilizers due to environmental concerns regarding runoff, but exceptions may be made for new seedings. Check with your local county extension agent about nutrient application restrictions.
Keep Your Lawn Well-Watered
Newly overseeded lawns need consistent moisture. Keep seed and soil moist with frequent, light waterings twice a day for the first four days; water more heavily every other day for the next five days; then water as needed to prevent wilting. This encourages deep, healthy roots.
Return to Regular Maintenance
Keep your newly revived lawn looking its best with a regular, comprehensive maintenance plan that includes diligent watering, best mowing practices and proactive overseeding. A simple weekday lawn maintenance schedule can keep your lawn lush and your weekends free.
For a simple, all-in-one approach to a thicker lawn, you can put your lawn on the fast track with Pennington Lawn Booster. This easy-to-use product simplifies overseeding to give your lawn the boost it needs. In just one application, your lawn will grow quicker, thicker and greener than ordinary grass—guaranteed.
Available in formulas for sun & shade or tall fescue lawns, Lawn Booster combines three essentials: seed, fertilizer and soil enhancer. Lime-enhanced, pure-bred Pennington Smart Seed, backed by years of breeding and research, adds beauty and sustainability. Once established, these water-conserving grasses require up to 30 percent less water than ordinary grasses. That’s year after year, for the life of your lawn. Plus, they stay green up to three weeks without watering. That means less work and more leisure time for you.
The premium fertilizer in Lawn Booster stabilizes nitrogen in the soil, to reduce leaching and other nitrogen loss to the environment. Your seed gets nitrogen for immediate feeding and for extended feeding for up to eight weeks, without extra fertilizer inputs on your part. Moreover, the soil-enhancing gypsum in Lawn Booster corrects soil conditions to allow for better root growth, so your newly boosted lawn can flourish and be the talk of the neighborhood.
For the lawn of your dreams, don’t wait to overseed until your lawn looks less than its best. Give your lawn the boost it needs, step-by-step or all-in-one. Pennington’s here with premium grass seed and lawn care products to help you keep your lawn at its peak.
Pennington, One Step Complete, Smart Seed, and Ultragreen are trademarks of Pennington Seed, Inc.
Turfgrass Water Conservation Alliance is a registered trademark of NexGen Turf Research, LLC.