Grass for lawn planting comes in cool-season grasses and warm-season grasses. Cool-season grasses are planted in the fall. In warm climates, they give you a green lawn over the winter months. In cooler climates, they provide summer green. The best time to plant your new lawn depends on your climate. Early fall planting is best to give the lawn time to become established. In most areas, Oct. 15 is considered the last date to plant grass seed.
Fescue grasses do well in the autumn. Sow 6 to 8 lbs. of fescue seed for every 1,000 square feet of lawn. Keep the grass watered with at least 1 1/2 inch of water each week for the first month or two. Once it is established, it is drought and cold tolerant. Fescue grasses die back in the summer heat, so you will need to plant a warm-season grass in the spring.
The rye grasses are also appropriate for October planting in warmer climates. Sow 3 to 5 lbs of winter rye seed per 1,000 square feet of existing grasses or use 5 to 7 lbs of seed for 1,000 square feet of bare earth. They need two to four weeks of frost-free weather to become established, so adjust the planting date for your area. Bare-earth planting needs more time to become established.
Bluegrass seeds are best planted in the early fall, but planting as late as Oct. 15 is often successful. With late planting, mix in approximately 40 percent rye grass seed. The rye grass germinates quickly and provides cover for the bluegrass over the winter.
Overseeding is used to fill in bare spots or to alternate between cool-season and warm-season grasses. Before sowing the seed, mow the lawn to approximately 1 to 1½ inches. Sow the seeds at a rate of half the amount indicated for a new planting. Keep the soil moist while the seed germinates and for a few weeks afterward while the grass becomes established.
Preparing a New Lawn
Prepare the soil before planting by leveling the seedbed and mixing in nutrient-rich organic compost. Spread the seed evenly over the area and rake it gently to bury the seed. Water with a fine spray to avoid washing the seeds away.
- Kansas State University Cooperative Extension; Tall Fescue Lawns; November 2000
- Texas A&M University Agricultural Extension; Ryegrass Temporary Sports Turf for the South; Richard Duble
- Kansas State University Cooperative Extension; Planting a Home Lawn; January 2002
- Iowa State University; Fall is the Time to Rejuvenate Your Lawn; Dr. Dave Minner
Diane Watkins has been writing since 1984, with experience in newspaper, newsletter and Web content. She writes two electronic newsletters and has a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Clemson University. She has taken graduate courses in biochemistry and education.