Spring and late summer are the two best times to seed your lawn. Newly seeded lawns require wet, cool conditions in order to be successful. These conditions occur in April and May and then again in late August and early September. Of the two, late summer, early fall is better to seed.
By planting at this time the seed is able to take advantage of the wet, cool weather, lie dormant over winter, and then take advantage of more moist cool weather in the spring. By doing this the turfgrass will be well on its way to creating a healthy, strong root system more able to withstand the heat and dryness of summer.
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If you seed during the summer months, your newly planted turf will have a hard time establishing itself. Keeping the soil moist and cool is very difficult as well as expensive at this time of year. As the newly planted lawn struggles to survive, weeds will quickly move in and take advantage of any areas that are bare or thin.
Preparing your site:
By starting from scratch you have a unique opportunity to ensure everything is done correctly to minimize problems you may encounter when seeding. Grade your site to prevent water from moving towards your house foundation. Ensure your site is weed-free before you begin seeding. By using a non-selective herbicide you ensure your site will be weed-free.
Any herbicide with glyphosate as the main ingredient will be effective. Ensure you follow the directions on the label before applying. By using a herbicide with glyphosate in it, you will see results usually within 7-10 days. These herbicides are absorbed by the soil so there is little movement or leaching within the soil.
They also break down in approximately two weeks. After this time period, seeding can begin. Ideally, 6-10 inches of good loamy topsoil is required for a good stand of turfgrass. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. If your soil is predominately clay it will be very difficult for water to saturate this type of soil.
Amend this type of site by adding peat moss or a good quality screened topsoil. Once you are satisfied with the grade and composition of your site, rake the area with a good quality garden rake. This will break up any large clumps of soil. Your soil particle size should ideally be fine without being powdery. Remove any sticks or other debris from your site. By doing this you minimize your chances for fairy rings to develop in later years.
Which seed is the right seed?
When selecting a grass seed for your lawn you must take into account several factors. How much sun is present on your site? How much shade? What color are you looking for? How much foot traffic will use your lawn? Generally speaking, grass seed comes in a blend of 3-4 types.
They are usually a blend of bluegrass, fescue, and ryegrass. By using the factors mentioned above, you will give your lawn a good chance to thrive.