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K-State Turfgrass

Spring cool-season turfgrass seedings – Why they fail

(By Jared Hoyle and Ward Upham, KSU Research and Extension)

When we talk about cool-season turfgrass seeding timing I always think the fall.  Well all around town I keep seeing more and more people seeding their lawn this spring.  I don’t want to say you are wasting your time because there are a couple reasons that you might need or have to seed in the spring but most success is achieved if seeding cool-season turfgrass in the fall.

There are several reasons Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue lawns are better seeded in the fall than in the spring.

These include:

  • Some of the most serious lawn weeds such as crabgrass and foxtail emerge in the spring. Since they are warm-season weeds, they will compete and often crowd out young, tender cool-season grasses during the heat of summer.
  • The most stressful time of year for cool-season grasses is summer, not winter. Poorly established lawns may die out during the summer due to heat and drought stress.
  • A lawn often gets more use during the summer, leading to increased compaction and traffic stress. Young plants have a hard time surviving the high traffic during the summer.
Weed competition when establishing cool-season from seed in the spring.

If an area needs to be established in the spring, sodding is much more likely to be successful than seeding. Sodding provides stronger, more mature plants that are better able to withstand stress and prevent weed invasion.