The Right Temperatures and Conditions for Planting Grass

You've just returned from the garden center burdened with several bags of grass seed that you are excited to sow into your yard. Images of lushly verdant grass- evenly cut, and glinting in the colorful sunset- flash through your mind. You step out of your car and head to the trunk just as a snowflake hits your nose. Brrr. So is this the right time to plant your grass? Probably not. What is the best time to plant this new grass seed? What temperatures and conditions will best encourage the seeds to take root and flourish? We will explore these questions in three brief sections.

Time of the Year
Obviously planting grass in the dead of winter in New England is a silly time to plant your grass seed. But maybe the dead of winter in New Mexico is the perfect time to plant your grass. How do you decide? Know your climate and local seasons. If your spring is rainy and warm, that is the right time to get your grass seeds out. If your spring is dry and burning hot, consider getting your seed out in late winter when there is more potential moisture and the temperatures are more reasonable. So again, know your climate and local seasons.

What is the right temperature for planting grass sees so that they will grow? Are we talking air temperature or ground temperature? Just kidding. But not really. You don't need to go out with a thermometer, but there are some things to keep in mind. If the ground is still frozen on the surface, bide your time. The ground is right when you can dig about four or five inches down. By the time your seeds sprout roots that long the ground will be long thawed. As for air temperature, you usually want to wait until the sun is out a lot and temperature is above 50 degrees or so every day. Warmer is even better. Basically, if you can wear a light jacket outside and be totally comfortable, your grass seed will be comfortable in your dirt as well. The point is that you don't want the seed to freeze and you don't want the sun to bake it and evaporate water too fast.

It is best to plant grass seed in the early spring, for most people. This is because you want some natural moisture coming down to keep that seed wet. If there is not a lot of water coming from the sky, it needs to come from your hose. And the conditions of the soil? First you want to loosen it up with a metal-tine rake, then wet it down some so the seeds stick. Then you need nice, moist conditions to promote that growth. So keep an eye on the patch you seeded. Keep it wet as much as possible. Before you know it, little pale-green shoots will be appearing.

Now go find the right seed for your area and get your grass growing!