This is the million dollar question — when’s the best time to seed your lawn? You want to seed alongside the grass’ natural periods of active growth. If other parts of your lawn are growing well, it’s probably a good time.
Generally, cool weather grass seed should be put down in late summer or early fall since they prefer cooler temperatures. They germinate best when the soil temperatures are between 50 and 60 degrees. Normally, that means the daytime air temperature is between 60 and 75 degrees. Soil thermometers are available to help you monitor more precisely.
On the other hand, seed warm weather grasses in early spring or into the summer. Warm weather grasses germinate best when soil temperatures are between 65 and 70 degrees, corresponding to a daytime temperature of 80 degrees or more. If you live on the border of two different zones, plant grass seed based on the type of seed (cool or warm weather), rather than the area you live in.
Cool-Weather Grass Varieties
Common or Hybrid Bermuda
Warm-Weather Grass Varieties
United States Climate Zones
To help you figure out which climate zone you live in, we’ve detailed the zones below:
Cool & Humid Zone
This region emcompasses coastal Washington, Oregon, and northern California, as well as the majority of the northeast. Minnesota, Iowa, and Missouri are also included in the cool and humid region.
Warm & Humid Zone
If you consider yourself a “Southerner”, this is most likely your region. Eastern Texas up through Oklahoma and Tennessee, and all the way down to Florida are included in the warm and humid zone.Cool & Arid Zone
Parts of the midwest and northwest are included in the cool and arid region, as well as the mountainous area in between. From North Dakota down to Kansas, across to Nevada, then North to inland Washington, this region takes up a lot of space.
Warm & Arid Zone
This is by far the smallest climate zone, including southern coastal California, parts of Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico, as well as western Texas.
Paying attention to the USDA zone you live in can help, as well. These climate zones give gardeners and landscapers a general timeline for planting. Determining when the first or last frost of the season will occur in your area can also help you decide the optimal time to seed your lawn. For cool weather grasses, plant at least 45 days before the first estimated frost, and for warm weather grasses, plant once the danger of frost has passed.
Keep an eye on the upcoming weather for storms and heavy rainfalls. These weather events can ruin your efforts if they occur shortly after you seed. On the opposite front, planting during a drought makes it difficult for the grass to establish roots. If you have the luxury to choose, the best time to plant is the day before a rain shower.
Once you’ve determined the best time to seed your lawn, contact your local, ARA-affiliated, rental store for information on available rental products such as tillers and spreaders. To locate the rental store nearest you, use the Rental Store Quick Locator above.
Frequently Asked Questions
What month is best to put grass seed down?
This depends on the type of grass you’re planting — and the climate zone in which you live. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, but normally, plan to put grass seed down during the transition of spring to summer or summer to fall. The mild temperatures will allow the seeds to grow and gain strength before the harsher seasons of summer or winter hit.
Can you just sprinkle grass seed onto a lawn?
This method may work, but to set your lawn up for success, it’s best to prepare it beforehand. The quality won’t be as high since it’s more difficult for grass to germinate in compacted soil than in raked soil. Consider renting an aerator or dethatcher to properly prepare your lawn for seeding. A seed spreader helps to ensure grass seed is evenly distributed and speeds up the process compared to hand seeding.
How do I prepare my lawn for seeding?
To give the new seeds the best chance to succeed, remove all debris from your lawn, including rocks or wood pieces. Then, liberally rake the soil and add any seeding soil, fertilizer, manure, or compost you plan to use. Compacted soil and grass may benefit from aerating and dethatching to ensure the seed can properly germinate in the soil. Figuring out how to seed a lawn is as easy as following those few steps. After that, the lawn is ready to be seeded.