If your lawn is comprised of cool-season grasses, such as Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, fine fescue or tall fescue, late summer through early fall is the perfect time to reseed your lawn. Soil temperatures are warm to allow for faster germination, air temperatures are favorable for the growth and development of the new grass plants and natural irrigation increases. Having the lawn aerated before seeding is a great way to incorporate the new seed into the lawn. The biggest question is what type of seed should you use to meet your lawn’s needs and grow well in your location.
By looking at the map to the right, determine the zone in which you live. Different grasses grow best in certain zones. For the cold winter, humid zone and the mild winter humid zones, Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass and fine fescue are the most popular grasses. In the transition zone, the most popular grass is turf-type tall fescue. There is a push in the transition zone for people to use more zoysia grass, but zoysia is usually installed either as sod or through sprigging or plugging and not as seed. In the cold winter, arid zone, turf-type tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass and fine fescue will all grow in that zone.
For the warmer parts of the US, the lawns are either installed as sod or through sprigging or plugging so this article is not as applicable for lawns that are comprised of Bermuda grass, St. Augustine grass, centipede grass or zoysia grass. Some homeowners in these areas choose to overseed their lawns with annual ryegrass in the fall for the lawn to remain green through the winter dormant period. Once the heat returns the following summer and the desired grasses green-up again, the annual ryegrass will die off.
It is a good idea to determine the amount of sun the lawn receives and how it is being used to make your next decision. Here is a quick chart to help you make this decision:
|Grass Type||Sun or Shade||Traffic Tolerance|
|Kentucky Bluegrass||Full Sun||Light|
|Perennial Ryegrass||Full Sun||High|
|Fine Fescue||Full Sun to Moderate Shade||Light|
|Turf-Type Tall Fescue||Full Sun to Moderate Shade||High|
Determining the amount of seed to purchase depends on the variety of seed and the size of the area you are seeding. Here are the recommended amounts of grass seed to sow per 1,000 square feet:
|Seed Type||Existing Lawn||New Lanwn|
|Bluegrass||2 pounds||4 pounds|
|Perennial Ryegrass||5 pounds||10 pounds|
|Fine Fescue||3 pounds||6 pounds|
|Turf-Type Tall Fescue||5 pounds||10 pounds|
Once you have determined the type of grass seed you need to plant and how much to purchase, your next step is to go to the local garden center or home improvement store. Some homeowners pick the cheapest seed and often regret that decision. Look at the seed label to determine the types and cultivars included in the seed mix. Be sure that there are not any weed seeds or other crop seeds included in the mix. A good quality grass seed mix should cost between $3 to $5 per pound. That may seem like a lot of money for a pound of seed, each pound off seed contains thousands of seeds.
One thing to keep in mind is the number of seeds per pound. Bluegrass is the smallest seed and contains about 1,500,000 seeds per pound. Ryegrass and Turf-Type Tall Fescue contain between 250,000 to 400,000 seeds per pound. If you purchase a 10-pound bag of seed that is 50 % bluegrass and 50% ryegrass, you are getting about 7,500,000 bluegrass seeds and about 1,250,000 ryegrass seeds. If you want more bluegrass than ryegrass, this blend would work fine. If you want more ryegrass than bluegrass, change the ratios.
Don’t wait too long to start seeding your lawn. It is the perfect time to start the process to make sure the new grass has plenty of time to grow and gain strength before the winter sets in. If you want more information on overseeding your lawn, contact your neighborhood lawn and tree care professional at Spring-Green