The way your yard looks helps you feel like you’re contributing to a positive, thriving, beautiful community.
You certainly don’t want to be the sole house on the block in Needham, Concord, or Danvers, MA with brown grass that’s full of weeds and generally looks unkempt and unloved.
Proper lawn renovation can help you build that green, thick lawn you crave. Lawn seeding is a part of that. But many people wonder what is the best time to plant grass seed.
Let’s talk about the types of grasses we grow here in Massachusetts and the ideal planting time and care to ensure maximum germination and great-looking, healthy grass.
Cool-Season vs. Warm-Season Grass
When it comes to understanding the best time to plant grass seed, you have to first understand the type of grass you have.
There are generally two types of grasses: cool-season grasses and warm-season grasses.
Cool-season grasses begin growing in mid-spring and stay green longer into the fall months before going dormant in late fall and through winter. They require regular watering through summer and grow best when they get at least half the day or more of full sun. These typically grow in the northern half of the U.S.
Warm-season grasses, which tend to grow best in the southern half of the U.S., begin growing in late spring and go dormant in early to mid-fall. These grass varieties don’t tolerate shade as well as cool-season grasses.
There are also specific cool- and warm-season grasses that grow best in the transition zones, which are located between the northern and southern areas of the U.S. In the Needham, Concord, and Danvers, Massachusetts area, we generally grow more cool-season grasses.
Best Time To Plant Grass Seed In Massachusetts
You have more than enough schedules to manage in your day: your work schedule and your family’s schedules.
Your lawn has a schedule, too. And if you’re seeding cool-season grasses based on its optimal growing period, you can maximize your chances of germination. This means you get a thicker lawn and waste less seed and time getting the end results you seek.
And when it comes to the best time to plant grass seed, there are some pros and cons to seeding at different times of the year.
Pros & Cons To Plant Grass Seed In Spring
The advantage of planting or overseeding cool-season grasses in spring means you can seed during cooler temperatures and can get a lawn that looks good at the beginning of the season.
But spring also comes with some disadvantages. Conditions can get hot and wet very quickly, which can encourage disease and drought.
In spring, you also compete with weeds for space. Those tender, new grass blades may not be strong or thick enough to keep weeds from sneaking in, and you can’t apply broadleaf weed herbicides on very new grass.
Pros & Cons To Plant Grass Seed In Fall
Fall – or actually late August through October – is the best time to plant grass seed or overseed cool-season grasses in Massachusetts.
This is because they don’t have to deal with the scorching heat of the summer. The fall’s cooler temperatures give the grass a chance to germinate and then go dormant into winter, building up essential nutrients. Then, in spring as grasses come out of dormancy, they continue to fill in, using these built-up nutrients to thrive.
Timing in fall is based on whether or not your home landscape is irrigated or not. You can seed in late August if your home has irrigation, but if you don’t have irrigation, seeding closer to mid-to-late September would be better.
After Seeding Care & Maintenance
Once you’re finished seeding or overseeding your Massachusetts lawn, proper care is essential to maximize germination.
These are some specifics that can help you get a thicker, greener lawn in Needham, Concord, or Danvers.
Watering New Grass
Post-seeding, you want to keep the soil and seed evenly moist.
This can mean different things based on your soil type. Here in Massachusetts, we tend to have more clay-based soil, which can take longer to saturate than sand-based soil.
When watering newly planted cool-season grasses, irrigate each section to get the water down 1 to 2 inches. Your goal is to keep the seeds moist; you don’t want to submerge them.
Weather conditions are important to watch while you’re caring for your newly seeded lawn. If your seed dries out during the day and there’s no rainfall, you’ll need a second daily watering to ensure consistent moisture until those seeds germinate. This will take roughly 10 to 14 days.
Once the seeds germinate, you can reduce watering to once a day for 20 to 30 minutes until your lawn is established.
Mowing New Grass
Next, you're probably wondering at what point you can mow your new grass shoots.
After planting new cool-season grass from seed, wait to mow until most of the seeds have germinated. Never mow when the soil is wet to protect the new seedlings and soil and never remove more than one-third of the leaf blade while mowing.
Mowing will continue usually weekly in the summer or during active growing months and then slows down to every 10 days during less active growing periods.
During mowing, remember to let the clippings fall to the ground to help recycle important nutrients back into the soil.
Fertilizing New Grass
Roughly 4 to 6 weeks after you seed cool-season grasses, it’s time to fertilize and deliver important nutrients to your lawn.
You want to use a high-quality, nitrogen-based fertilizer and then continue at regular intervals throughout the growing season.
Managing Weeds & Bugs In New Grass
While you’re growing new cool-season grasses, weeds are naturally going to want to take advantage of open spots and sneak in there, too.
But you shouldn’t use any preventive or curative weed control products until you’ve mowed your new grass two or three times. This usually occurs about 4 to 6 weeks after seeding.
Insect pests usually feed on grass roots or blades once established and they usually attack weak or malnourished lawns, so while seeding you should not need to use pest control products. And remember to take proper care of your new lawn not only during germination but also once it’s grown in, to ensure it can stand strong against weeds and insects.