When to plant grass seed for a successful lawn – the ‘added benefits’ of seasonal sowing

Garden tips: How to maintain your lawn

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Grass seed is easy to sow and even easier to grow on bare soil or on top of an existing lawn. While this simple planting method is often the go-to solution for reviving tired garden grass, it won’t always work if you do it at the wrong time of year. Here’s your guide to successfully growing a new lawn from grass seed, including exactly when to plant it for the best results.

When to plant grass seed

According to Lawn UK, you can sow grass seed at any time from late March to mid-October, but it will germinate more readily when the soil is warm and there is plenty of moisture.

Spring is generally the best time of year to plant grass seed as it has plenty of time to establish in the warming climate.

According to the Garden Lawn Care Guy, the most important thing to remember when growing lawn seed is that the soil temperature needs to be consistently measured at around 10 degrees or above.

In most cases, germination should take between seven and 10 days, with most seedlings able to establish quickly as long as there is no risk of frost.

While spring is considered ‘the best time to plant new seeds, several experts, including The Grass People believe that sowing in autumn has “lots of added benefits” too.

They said: “When sowing grass seed we need warm soil, moisture and sunlight.

“In the autumn months, (September to November), the UK still typically hits the temperatures of 8-10 degrees and above which is required for germination.”

The consistent temperature isn’t the only benefit. In fact, the autumn weather often provides an almost perfect natural growing environment for lawn seed.

These advantages include:

  • Less watering – frequent rain means you don’t need to remember to water the grass as much
  • Fewer weeds – weed growth is naturally slower in the milder months which is ideal for young seeds to establish
  • A fresh summer lawn – by sowing early in autumn, your lawn should be full and luscious by the time summer arrives
  • Lower risk of birds – fewer birds will visit your garden to snack on newly sown seed due to migration and the availability of other food during winter

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Can you plant grass seed in summer?

There is a good chance of growing grass seed successfully as long as it is planted in the recommended window (before or after the first and last frosts).

While planting new seeds in summer is possible, seedlings may struggle to grow in more extreme conditions.

The Grass People said: “Sometimes we forget that grass seed is a living thing, and it needs the right conditions to grow successfully – heat, water, air and light. When these conditions aren’t perfect, grass seed will fail to germinate.”

If you do want to plant grass seed in July, August or early September, you should take steps to combat common problems like drought and soil compaction.

To do this, you can:

Break up the soil

If you have compacted soil, it is important to break it up before sowing.

For the best results, your seedbed should be level and worked over to a fine tilth – (nice and crumbly), with no lumps or bumps in sight.

Bury the seeds correctly

Seed won’t grow if it is buried too deeply or too shallowly, as it can’t access the sunlight, heat and moisture needed to germinate.

The Grass People said: “When sowing new seed, you should rake the seed in so that it is around three £1 coins (stacked) beneath the surface – this gives it adequate space to grow and receive light whilst also providing protection from the elements (and pesky birds!).”

Water more often

The hot weather is a pleasant change for fed-up Britons, but it can leave garden grass looking dry, yellowed and full of weeds.

When this happens, The Grass People recommended that homeowners “double up on their watering” (twice a day), to add moisture to the soil.

They explained that a quick test to see if your soil is moist enough for germination is to drive a screwdriver into the soil 0 if it can reach up to 6/7 inches deep you’re in luck – if it can’t, it needs a lot more water.

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