Spring Lawn Care | How to Sow Grass Seed

Spring Lawn Care | How to Sow Grass Seed
John Fulton, Extension County Director - University of Illinois

If you live in central Illinois you have a choice to make today. You can either decide to control the crabgrass in your lawn, or you can try to fix the dead or thin areas. Todd Gleason has more on the how-to..

Spring is about a month earlier than usual this year…
2:06 radio
2:18 radio self-contained

Spring is about a month earlier than usual this year across a large part of the eastern United States. It definitely means now is the time to start doing some pre-season lawn care says University of Illinois Extension’s John Fulton. He’s in central Illinois where the time has come to control crabgrass or sow seed. He says you can’t do both, at least not in the same spot.

Fulton :16 …kill your germinating grass seeds.

Quote Summary - You want to either seed new grass or control crabgrass. You can’t do both in the same season. That’s number one because the same products that will kill germinating crabgrass seeds will kill your germinating grass seeds.

As for seeding grass, Fulton says, March 15 to April 1 is the recommended spring period in central Illinois. It’s a very narrow window, but with purpose. New grass seed needs time to germinate and develop a strong root system before hot weather arrives. The right type of seed to use varies. Sunny locations do well with Kentucky bluegrass, while shaded areas tend to do better, he says, with red or chewings fescue. Perennial ryegrass provides quicker germination and cover.

Fulton :37 …we get that really hot weather during the summer.

Quote Summary - Most common, anymore, are blends. These are either two-way or three-way blends including Kentucky bluegrass which thrives in your sunny areas, one of the fine fescues - either red or chewings - which thrive in dry but shaded areas under your tress and along borders, and then a lot of them will have a perennial rye grass in them for a quick green up. Most people don’t realize Kentucky bluegrass can take up to four weeks to even germinate. So, that’s why it is so critical to get it germinated and the root system established before we get that really hot weather during the summer.

Grass seed blends help with environmental conditions, diseases, and insects. When one type struggles, the others can tolerate and help fill in areas in the lawn. The recommended seeding rates are four pounds per 1000 square feet in new seedings, and two pounds per 1000 in overseeding existing turf to thicken it up or help fill small bare areas.