When is the best time of year to seed? What is the worst time of year to seed? These are two of the more common questions I’m asked. Here is the answer from most successful to least successful:
1) Most successful: Late August to early autumn: Day and nighttime weather is beginning to cool. Dew is present on lawns. And annual broadleaf weeds and crabgrass are beginning to die, which means new turf can easily establish itself with little to no competition. If you’re going to seed, this is absolutely the best time of year to do it. Don’t miss your opportunity.
2) Mid-autumn: By mid-October, the window to seed is rapidly closing. A mixed bag of seed or hydroseed can take upwards of 4 to 6 weeks to emerge and establish itself to the point that it can survive the winter. Remember, at this stage in the turf’s life, it’s not about the blade…it’s about the turf’s root system. The harder the soil (due to a frozen ground) the more difficult it is for turf roots to penetrate deep. If you need to seed this late in the year, I recommend using perennial rye grass, which is a fast growing seed.
3) Early spring: Early spring is second to last on this list for a couple of reasons. Yes, the seed will grow just fine in the spring because of the wet, cool weather. However, here’s the caveat; you can’t apply pre-emergent crabgrass control over new seed, and you can’t spray weeds until you’ve mowed the new grass at least three times. Furthermore, it’s challenging to near impossible to keep young turf alive through the brutal New England summer. I do not recommend aerating & overseeding or renovating an entire lawn at this time of year. However, if you want to patch up a couple of very small spots that might not have filled in the previous fall, this is typically a fine time of year to do so. Just keep in mind, these areas also won’t receive pre-emergent crabgrass control or, at the outset, broadleaf weed control.
4) Late spring (May/June) – late July/early August: There is little to no long-term success when seeding an entire lawn or a large section of your lawn at this time of the year. Doing so could set your lawn back a few to several years and crabgrass and annual weeds will be an issue.
If you’re overseeding, here’s a few things you should know:
- Always aerate before you overseed. There are no exceptions.
- It may take upwards of 2 to 3 years to see the full results from a single overseeding as new grass emerges from the canopy of already existing turf.
- If you’re patching up small areas of your lawn, apply top soil. This will give you the best chance of success.
- Just because new seed emerges in the fall, it doesn’t mean it’ll survive the subsequent year without proper care. For example, if you forget about several months later, it won’t make it through the summer.
It’s not uncommon to have to seed areas of your lawn that succumb to summer heat or general wear and tear. Adhering to the tips presented here will give your lawn the best change to succeed.
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