Are your sights set on a thick, lush lawn this year? Planting grass seed represents an investment of time, money, labor and hope. From seeding new lawns to repairing rough spots and renewing existing turf, proper timing separates a successful lush yard from something less.
Your best time for planting grass seed depends on the type of lawn grass you grow and where you live. Understanding your options and getting timing right helps you seize every opportunity for seeding success. Because Maryland experiences a full spectrum of seasons and also extreme heat and cold at times, the "best time"can be difficult to predict and can make timing especially difficult.
Choose the best type of grass
Grass grow fastest and strongest when your planting season aligns with the seeds' natural periods of active growth. Just as with other kinds of plants in your landscape, lawn grasses vary in their growth cycles and regional climate preferences.
Cool-season grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass and tall fescue - including Kentucky 31 tall fescue - grow most vigorously during the cool temperatures of late summer and early fall. These grasses flourish across cooler northern climates and into the challenging “transition zone," where cool and warm regions overlap.
Warm-season grasses, such as bermudagrass, bahiagrass, zoysia grass, and centipede grass peak in growth during the warmer temperatures of late spring and early summer. These grasses thrive in southern and western regions and up into the transition zone's southern reaches.
Whether you grow cool- or warm-season grasses, timing your seeding to take advantage of your grass type's natural periods of peak growth helps seed germinate and establish quickly. Your seed gets off to the best possible start and on track for both short- and long-term success.
What to expect
Proper timing allows all types of grass seedlings to root well and get established before natural stresses hit. What that looks like in your lawn can vary depending on your grass type, your growing region and the conditions in any given year.
Grass types and varieties vary in their natural germination speeds. For example, cool-season Kentucky bluegrass germination can take two to three times as long as tall fescue varieties. Similarly, warm-season zoysia grass may take two to three times longer than bermudagrass. In addition, many seed products include a mix of seed types that germinate at different speeds.
Whether you're repairing bare spots, overseeding an existing lawn or starting from scratch, you can generally expect grass seedlings to emerge within seven to 21 days when grown under proper conditions. It may take another three to four weeks of growth before grass is long enough to mow. For fall-planted seed, this can mean waiting until spring for your first mowing. Some grasses, such as zoysia grass, may need several months of growth to fully establish.
Much of the initial growth of new grass seedlings happens underground, where you can't see it. New roots get grass firmly established, prepared for the seasons ahead, and positioned for strong, rapid growth when their peak season arrives. With proper timing, new grass seedlings compete well for light, water and nutrients and fight off lawn diseases and pests, including lawn weeds.
Even when you plant your grass seed at the best possible time, your lawn still needs help to thrive. Whether this is your first lawn or you're the neighborhood expert, take some advice from turf professionals and get to know your grasses and your soil before you start seeding. To discuss yard health and more please contact us 443-846-0199 or firstname.lastname@example.org.