Different grasses grow in different areas of the country. Warm-season grasses are usually grown in warmer, more southerly regions. Types include Bahiagrass, Bermudagrass, St. Augustinegrass and Zoysiagrass. Cool-season grasses are typically grown in cooler, more northerly regions. Types include Fescue, Kentucky Bluegrass and Ryegrass. Check with your local Cooperative Extension System office to learn which types of grass grow best in your area.
Anytime in early spring or fall
Provide adequate moisture to grass, especially during episodes of drought or high temperatures. Provide deep, infrequent irrigation, which promotes healthy, deeper roots. Learn about lawn irrigation basics and how much grass actually needs.
In many climates, the best time to plant grass seed is in the autumn. The still-warm soil encourages optimum root growth, while the cooler air temperatures discourage excessive top growth. This is perfect for establishing lawn grasses and promoting extensive root growth. It also makes the turf more resistant to drought and better able to access nutrients in the soil. In addition, in most regions, fall also brings increased amounts of rainfall. This means you won’t have to lug out the hose and sprinkler as often.
As a professional horticulturist and a former landscaper, I’ve seeded dozens of brand-new lawns over the years, and I’ve over-seeded bare spots in hundreds more. No matter how large or how small your job is, success always starts with selecting the best grass seed for your region. Different grass species thrive in different climates. Which grass seed is best for your yard also depends on the amount of sunlight it receives. I suggest contacting a local garden center or feed store and speaking with them about the best options for your region. There are also some useful online maps with all the information you’ll need to choose the appropriate grass species for your growing conditions if you live in the US.
Some varieties of turfgrass take longer to germinate than others. For example, perennial rye grass germinates in as little as 3 to 5 days, fescues take more like 10 days, Kentucky bluegrass takes 2 to 3 weeks, and warm-season grasses like centipede, Bermuda, and zoysia grasses can take over a month. If your grass seed is a mixture of varieties, know that not all of them will germinate at the same time. To encourage good germination and a healthy start no matter which type of grass seed you planted, it’s critical that you keep the seeded area and the young plants well-watered until they are established. See the section below on watering for more info on how and when to water new grass.
Planting grass seed in spring
In smaller areas, grass seed can be spread by hand. For large areas, use a mechanical spreader.
It’s time to plant grass seed in the fall when nighttime temperatures drop down to about 60 degrees F. Keep an eye on the forecast. Opt for sowing grass seed when there’s a day or two of rain predicted.
There are many different types of lawn grasses. Be sure to choose varieties that are suited to your climate.
After the seeds are sown, cover them immediately to protect them from birds, keep them moist, and prevent them from washing away in a heavy rain. There are several different mulches you can use for the job. In my experience, straw (not hay, which can be filled with weed seeds), screened compost, or mushroom soil are prime choices. All three of these options are available from your local garden store or landscape supply center. Erosion mats are another option. They can easily be unrolled over the area with little mess and are biodegradable, though they’re also a good bit more expensive than the previous choices.