Too Late To Seed a Lawn?

davidnjOctober 18, 2010

It is mid-October. This year's hot dry summer left us with maybe 30,000 sq. ft. of dead lawn. It was a 90/10 fescue/bluegrass mix from Pennington seed from about 6 years ago; a large part of the lawn had been killed by grubs the preceding year.

We were going to use a similer mix from Lesco. We were going to rent a thatcher, then a seeder. However, rain (were was it all summer?), work and other obligations have made it difficult to get it done.

How late can we still do this this fall? Should we wait until the spring to seed? Suggestions?

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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Do I understand that you do not irrigate no matter what?

    Bookmark   October 18, 2010 at 1:30AM
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It's probably too late to do a "traditional" fall seeding.

I'd suggest a dormant seeding instead. Wait until it's too cold for the seed to germinate and spread it. I like to do this just before the first good snowfall of the winter.

Some seed will be lost for various reasons, but the remaining seed will germinate much earlier in the spring than a traditional spring seeding and will have a better chance at surviving the summer.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2010 at 1:42AM
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dmoore66(6 NorthWest NJ)

Here in NJ we are penalized for using water. It is very very expensive and metered.
Also if it is too dry like this past summer, there are water restrictions and you will be fined if caught watering lawns or washing cars.
Watering 30,000 sq ft of lawn would cost thousands of dollars, if you watered every other day!

    Bookmark   October 18, 2010 at 6:10PM
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What I was thinking. Plus my sprinker has worked for years. Even when you can water, you end up with water dependent grass that is gone right away when you have a drought with water restrictions.

In addition to the thousands for watering (we have about 20,000 sq ft of grass in partly shaded areas that survived) water usage is the basis of the sewer bill. It can cost over $1000 in extra charges there.

Can fescue and bluegrass be used in a dormant season seeding? Is it too early for that? Is there a risk that it will germinate in a mid-winter warm spell and be killed off?

    Bookmark   October 18, 2010 at 9:42PM
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"Can fescue and bluegrass be used in a dormant season seeding?"


"Is it too early for that?"

Yes. You need to wait for it to start getting cold. I like to wait until there's a good snow in the forecast and put the seed down then.

"Is there a risk that it will germinate in a mid-winter warm spell and be killed off?"

Yes, but a very small one unless your winters are extremely mild. It's the soil temperatures that determine when the seed will germinate, not the air temperatures. So it would need to warm up and stay warm enough for the soil to warm up. Then the soil would have to stay warm long enough for the seed to germinate.

Once the seed germinates, the danger isn't that you'll get a frost that will kill the blades. The danger is that you'll get a frost that is hard enough to cause the soil to heave and dislodge the roots.

If it gets warm enough and stays warm enough long enough for the seed to germinate, the odds that you'll get a hard enough frost to kill the grass are slim. Not non existent, but slim.

Your other options are to wait until spring and do a spring planting or to wait until next fall (really more like late summer) and do a fall seeding. If you do the spring seeding, the odds that the grass will die in the summer are far greater than the odds that it will die from freezing in a dormant seeding, especially if you can't water it regularly.

Frankly, with the water restrictions, I think a fall seeding would have slim chances for success. The best way to have a successful seeding project without watering several times a day is to dormant seed. That even works out here in the desert.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2010 at 12:56AM
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I have a similar question: Is it too late to re-seed in my area?

I'm in the outskirts of Richmond, VA area, due to water restriction, did not reseed earlier. Now restrictions has eased, I can water almost every other day.

I only have a small-medium sized bare spot to reseed, perhaps 20-50 square feet (size of a small bathroom) and thin strip 6" wide along the drive-way that's bare and from me weeding out burmuda grass, etc.

Should I just wait until next spring or try and reseed now, hope for the best, and re-seed in spring if some/most seedlings don't make it... my fear is most seedling will not make it in spring reseeding because of the hot summer...


    Bookmark   October 19, 2010 at 8:48AM
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dmoore66(6 NorthWest NJ)

Why not buy five pieces of sod for $15.00 and be done!

    Bookmark   October 20, 2010 at 11:25AM
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