The Truth About Spring Seeding
By Ken Machock
It only makes sense that when the grass starts to grow in the spring, it would be the perfect time to put down seed to the bare spots in your lawn. My advice: Avoid the temptation at all costs!
It’s a good time to do a lot of things to the lawn, but seeding isn’t one of them.
There are 2 main reasons why you shouldn’t seed in spring:
- The weather in spring can leave a very narrow window to optimize your spring seeding. Ground temperatures which control the seeds’ germination may not be suitable until late April/May. If germination is accomplished, then you have a very demanding new lawn! At this critical period a new lawn requires proper feeding, water, mowing and even an over-seeding. But the problem now becomes the air temperature. By mid-May we are experiencing extreme heat and sunlight. Plus the extreme heat and drought we experience in June, July and August make the care of the turf a real chore. On the other hand, the possibility of early spring germination leaves the chance of a frost or freeze which would wipe-out your new turf entirely.
- Those same bare areas that you are trying to fix are the same areas where crabgrass and other aggressive weeds want to establish as well. I have seen it many times. Unless you are giving your new seeding consistent, (and I mean consistent daily attention), the crabgrass and other weeds always win and take over. I have seen when a new spring seeding is actually looking pretty good and within a couple of days it is overrun with weeds or crabgrass! There are control products that can be used at the time of seeding to help control crabgrass and you can always spray weeds at ½ rate to eliminate them later. But the products are expensive and can be only partially successful in their control.
My solution? Plan to seed in the fall!
Now we’re talking! Mark it on your calendar for August 1st: “Make plans to seed the lawn.”
In the fall, the ground temperature is perfect for germination. This alone increases the germination window 10x or 20x that of the spring. The air temperature is much more favorable as well, giving that new lawn much more of an opportunity to establish itself. Instead of the new lawn heading into the heat and drought of the summer, its experiencing the cooler, moisture filled fall season. The watering and feeding goes much further, and you get more bang for your buck and efforts.
Also, crabgrass is done for the season, and so are the vast majority of weeds. So there is no competition from them. This allows the grass seed to germinate and establish itself without getting crowded out or overrun.
In addition, seeding and establishing grass in early fall (such as mid to late August) makes it still possible to fit in an over-seeding! This is a great way to thicken and really establish the new lawn. I typically cut off the fall seeding the 1st week of October, although our over-seeding with aeration can carry into Early November.