Fall Seeding Benefits

The true benefit of fall seeding is simple. Spring growth. Find out why fall is the best time to seed and how to plant grass for a bountifully, green spring.

Benefits of Fall Seeding

There’s really just one – spring growth. Overseeding and patching bare spots in the fall helps deter weeds and other seasonal lawn problems come springtime. When you shift to prepping your lawn for the coming fall, remember: the best defense against spring weeds is a dense lawn this fall.

Why is Fall the Best Time to Seed

The weather is right. 

The temperatures in the soil and air are both right for seed. Seeding right now allows the grass seed to germinate and roots to establish before temperatures and soil cool off in late fall. 

 

Helpful tips for your region: 

Cooler climates: this is the ideal time to overseed and bare patch lawns.

Warmer climates: fall is great for patching bare spots, especially recently hand-pulled or spot-treated weed areas with seed, or sod, or plugs (depending on grass type).

 

Less competition from weeds.

Only a few winter annuals (annual bluegrass, chickweed, henbit) and perennials (dandelion, dallisgrass, creeping charlie) might germinate at this time. This means the grass seed you spread can germinate with fewer weeds actively growing or present to compete for space, sunlight, nutrients, and water.  

Sunday ProTip: Even with less competition, you still need to get weeds out of the way and prevent them from producing seed. Hand-pull, mow shorter or if necessary, spot-treat with Dandelion Doom or Weed Warrior

 

Bare ground is a threat to the environment.

Reduce soil erosion and water contamination by creating a perennial groundcover aka planting grass! Your lawn helps decrease soil runoff, filters sediment before it enters the drainage and water systems, helps takes up nutrients harmful to waterways, and in general slows down water movement and holds soil in place. 

Sunday ProTip: Warm-season grasses can be patched in the fall too. Instead of seed, most warm-season grasses will need to be planted via warm-season propagation methods. Make sure you allow enough time for grass to establish and spread before winter. Warm-season grasses need to reach maturity or establish roots prior to nightly temperatures hitting below 55 degrees. Otherwise, if the grass doesn’t spread to cover bare spots, soil can be washed away with melting snow and rain in spring. 

How to Plant Grass Seed

When you’re ready to seed we can show you just how to plant grass seed. For a quick run-through, here’s the best way to plant grass: 

  1. Hand-pull and spot treat weeds
  2. Pick the right grass seed
  3. Mow your lawn shorter than usual, remove clippings. 
  4. Spread seeds generously. 
  5. Keep soil moist until seeds germinate.

 

Best time to plant grass guidelines: 

Northern Zone: 

  1. Plant in fall, the second-best time is spring
  2. Don’t plant in during mid-summer

Transition Zone: 

  1. Plant in late summer through mid-fall, the second-best time is spring
  2. Don’t plant during mid-summer (if you have cool-season grass)

Southern Zone: 

  1. Plant in early summer, the second-best time is mid-summer
  2. Don’t plant during fall

What if I Miss Fall Seeding?

The window for normal overseeding and bare patching usually ends in early October for northern and transitional zones. So, what do you do if you miss this? Dormant overseed. When it’s cold enough to prohibit germination but the ground is not yet covered in snow or ice (usually late October to early November), you can dormant seed. This method will give cool-season grasses a head start in spring, but we must emphasize waiting until all existing grass is brown and dormant, otherwise, the seed might germinate and die before establishing.

Trouble Seeding Grass?

You’re likely not fixing the underlying issue. If you have bare ground without grass or weeds, there’s likely an issue to resolve in the soil. Poor lawn care practices, light availability, drainage, and soil issues hinder the ability of grass seed to grow. Fix these problems first, then plant grass.

Sunday Protip: Sunday nutrients only work correctly when lawn issues are fixed. Discover more on The Shed to find various how-to fixes to mend your lawn.

Cited Sources

“Fall” Into Your Lawn: Establishing Cool-season Turfgrasses. Virginia Tech Cooperative Extension.  

Lawn Management Through the Seasons. Penn State University Extension. 

Lawn Care: The Easiest Steps to an Attractive Environmental Asset. Cornell University.  

Cold climate impact on runoff management. Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. 

Consider dormant seeding your lawn this fall. University of Minnesota Extension.