When and how to plant grass seed in the fall

5 fall lawn seeding tips from our experts at Best Feeds Garden Centers.

The basics of fall lawn seeding

Homeowners often have trouble figuring out when is the best time of the year to seed a lawn. Seeding at the wrong time can have negative effects on your grass and result in poor establishment, so it’s important to seed when you’ll have the best chance of success.  Cooler fall weather means seeds are less affected by heat, but the soil is warm enough for growth.

Fall has the ideal conditions for planting lawn seed.

1. Ideal Conditions
There are a variety of environmental and climate factors that help nourish a lawn as it grows. Maintaining the appropriate ratio of moisture, soil, and sunlight is a delicate balance, even for those among us with a green thumb. Thankfully, with just a little preparation and practice, you can learn how to seed your lawn so that it’ll thrive. The following are three key conditions to keep in mind when planting seed in the fall.

Soil Soil preparation is one of the three most important factors that impact successful germination. During autumn, grass seed can germinate most effectively because soil temperatures are still warm (around 60ºF). Another crucial piece of information to think about before seeding is the pH reading of your soil. When the pH of your soil is not balanced, grass struggles to grow. Getting the right grass seed mixture for your specific lawn is also one of the first and most important steps to seeding your lawn, no matter what time of the year you choose to seed it.

Moisture Maintaining proper moisture levels is also essential to the growth of your lawn. One reason fall is the best time of the year to seed your lawn is that your soil is able to better maintain a healthy moisture level. This is one of the main reasons why grass and so many other types of plants benefit from fall seeding.

Sunlight While soil and moisture are vital, without the right amount of sunlight, it’s very difficult to promote healthy germination. fall provides the optimum amount of light for your lawn, thanks to Earth’s position at that time of year. The less intense sunshine also helps avoid the threat of excessive dryness your lawn and soil face during the late spring and hotter summer months.

2. Fall gives lawns more time to grow
Quality lawns need around two years to fully grow, with longer growing cycles often helping foster remarkably lush greenery. Seeding in fall gives your seedlings over half a year to grow and develop a rich, deep root system, before reaching their full glory in spring. This way, the grass plants are well established before the summer heat returns next year. Make sure to plant your seeds at least 45 days before the first fall frost!

3. Fall gives roots more time to grow

When you seed in fall, expect to see outstanding results once spring finally rolls around. Thanks to an enhanced growing and development cycle, your grass will be much better positioned to thrive and survive tough conditions. The availability of nutrients and lack of competition while developing help promote grass and root systems that are generally stronger and more resilient than those planted in springtime.

4. Fall season has more rainfall
Thanks to stable rainfall, higher retention of moisture in the soil, and less evaporation due to milder temperatures, you actually don’t need to water your autumn-planted grass as often. In fact, seeding during the fall can help you better predict and manage your overall water consumption, which in turn helps to reduce waste and your water bill.
5. Fewer weeds competing for nutrients and moisture
Seeds planted during the autumn months enjoy a competitive edge during their growth cycle because your grass has much more space to thrive. Seeding your lawn in the fall will usually require less herbicides and weed removal because weeds start to die out around this time.
The reduced competition from weeds also helps stimulate growth and assists in root development. Additionally, reduced watering, paired with a healthy amount of sunlight and rain during the fall, provides the ideal condition for grass seed growth and development.