When is it Too Late to Sow Grass Seed In The Fall?

By Brian Mounts | Oct 21, 2020
When Is It Too Late To Put Down Grass Seed

If you want to have the best possible lawn in the Spring then that usually means you have to put down some extra grass seed in the fall but knowing when it’s too late to sow grass seed in your climate is one of the most important things to consider when it comes to timing.

Generally speaking most people overseed or seed a new lawn in the month of September because the highest heat of summer is in the rear view mirror while the frozen ground of winter is still months away but in many cases a later autumn seeding may make sense. Let’s look at the variables that should go into your decision to put grass seed down later in the year.

Cool season grass seed will germinate in soil that is at least 45 to 50 degrees and it will grow vigorously in soil temps between 50 and 65 degrees. Outside air temperatures can be much lower than this without affecting the grass so long as there is no frost. Frost or freezing temperatures can kill new grass seedlings if their root structure isn’t well established.

For people who choose to sow grass seed late in the Fall you have to check soil temps to make sure they are above 45 degrees and you will need to prepare the soil well to ensure the quickest germination speed and consistency possible for the seed you lay down.

To keep sprouts alive as temperatures dip in late October and November you will want to fertilize your new grass with both starter fertilizer to establish root growth and potassium to quickly build up the new grass’ ability to overcome stresses like cold weather, frozen soil, and snow compaction.

If early frosts and freezing temperatures are in the forecast then covering your sprouts with garden fabric or greenhouse plastic may be necessary to keep the grass warm and growing as late into the year as possible.

There’s still a lot to say about this topic though so let’s start with a video I created specifically to address this topic before we go into further detail.

If you have decided to grow grass from seed this season then the following articles on this site will probably be helpful either now or in a week or two when you get to that part of the process:

When To Mow New Grass From Seed
How Long Does Grass Take To Fully Grow
What Does Potassium Do For Grass

But before you go for it, are you sure you want to sow grass seed?

Now, you might want to jump right into the discussion, but that’s not the smartest choice. Before you actually plan to sow your seed, you must know that there is one more way that you might want to go for.

[Naturally, we are not counting sods or the like. We’re just counting the two main ways in which you can let your grass grow all the way from seeds.]

So, the second way that you might want to go for is to actually spread them on top of the soil. A lot of people believe that this is not a good way because the grass would not germinate. However, you can learn more about the germination rates of grass when spread on top of the soil on our article entitled Will Grass Seed Germinate on Top of Soil?

Now, naturally, you must also keep in mind the problems with spreading seed above the soil. One of the main things are that your grass seed can actually be eaten by birds! However, there’s no reason to worry about that, because Turf Mechanic is here for you! Click here to find out how you can deter birds from eating your grass seeds.

When is it too late to sow grass seed?

In order to find out when is it too late to sow grass seed, you need to figure out the right time to sow grass seeds. This has been, once again, tested by the experts over a long period of time, and the experts have found out the following:

  • There are several kinds of grasses out there. Each of these grasses have a different time that is the ideal time for them. Naturally, you really don’t want to generalize it altogether because some of them are suited better to entirely opposite parts of the year!
  • However, for the sake of convenience, they can be divided into two broad kinds, based on which you might act. These are, the warm weather grasses and the cold weather grasses. As you might have guessed, the warm weather grasses grow well during summer and the cold weather grasses during winter.

However, you might still be wondering about the exact months for these grasses and which variety of grass falls under which category- there’s no need to be afraid, this concern is perfectly natural. However, Turf Mechanic is here for you and we have already prepared an article to help you with this.

Please click here to find out the best time to plant grass seed.

So.. When is it too late?

Naturally, any time after this point of grass should be treated as too late to plant the grass seeds. However, being little late is still permissible if your seeds gets favorable weather. It is perfectly too late when your seed would have to grow in adverse weather conditions.

Expert recommend not growing the grass seed in adverse weather conditions because it actually makes it harder for the grass seed to grow in a healthy way. The growth of the young seed at this stage is actually what is going to decide the overall look and strength of your turf, and you don’t want to get it damaged by planting your seeds too late, do you?

See my full grass growing guide here for more helpful tips – no opt-in needed.

How much grass seed do you need per square foot?

Now, figuring out the answer to this question is not too easy- you have to actually take all the above mentioned things into account. For example, if you use the right grass for a warm climate, and plant it at the right moment in a sunny spot, you might actually have to use very little seed!

Alternatively, trying to plant a wrong type of grass seed in snow might actually not help at all even if you pour sacks of seed there. So, you need to actually do your research and decide what would be the smartest choice for you and your lawn.

Ideally, though, a the right type of conditions would call for between 8 to 15 pounds of seed per acre you want to properly grow grass on. Keep in mind that this is just a general calculation and it might vary a little bit depending on the precise situation you’re dealing with. Quoting YardCareGurus,

For even the best grass seed, the seeding rates will be 8 to 15 pounds per acre. Factors that can affect seedling growth include low temperatures, weeds with an aggressive growth pattern, and dry weather or drought. Local precipitation patterns can be used as a guide to determine when seeds should be planted. In climates with heavy fall rains and late first frosts, fall plantings are often successful without the needs for the sower to water the land themselves.

Lazy like me? Consider going for an Artificial Turf!

Going for an Artificial Turf is an awesome choice! Earlier, a lot of people chose to refrain from these turfs. Their reasons were logical owing to the fact that the older artificial turfs did not look natural at all. Naturally, these only harmed the look of your lawn rather than making them beautiful.

However, with the advent of modern technology, this has changed dramatically. Going for artificial turfs is actually a much better choice now owing to the fact that the new ones look just perfect! In fact, these new artificial turfs actually look better a lawn that’s not perfectly taken care of!

So, if you’re a lazy person like me, you might want to get your lawn without putting in all the effort that other lawn owners do. Earlier, it was almost impossible to achieve if you didn’t employ someone else to take care of your lawn. However, you can do it with a far greater level of ease now if you choose to shift to the artificial Turf!

So, if that’s what you think is going to be the best choice for you, you might actually consider having an artificial turf too. Yes, while it’s true that it might never be as good as the real one, the overall hassle is considerably less.

You know what goes well with artificial turfs? Trampolines! A lot of people are afraid of using sprinklers with trampolines, and if you’re one of them, click here to read our article on Do Sprinklers Ruin Trampolines?

Conclusion

Well, so that’s that. In today’s article, we checked out a whole lot of things and we really hope that you found it informative too! Again, it is also hoped that you would be able to apply these in your lawn to make it even more beautiful!

So, we checked out the options you might want to go for instead of sowing your seed, and the overall chances of germination in that case (as well as how you might want to protect your seeds). We also checked out when is the right time and when it is too late to grow your grass seed. Finally, we also took a look at how much grass seed you might want to use and a great choice for you if you don’t want to go for all the hard work at the end of the day!

We understand, however, that you might still have a few questions for us, and we look forward to hearing from you. Please know that Turf Mechanic is always here for you and we’re always eager to help you out with any information that we can. So, if you have any queries that you think we might be able to help you with, please do not hesitate in reaching out to us!

Thank you for taking your time to read today’s article. We really hope that you liked it and that you would read our upcoming articles too! We look forward to having you again!