Can I plant Fescue in the spring??

Can I plant Fescue in the spring??

Spring Seeding…. Can I plant a Fescue lawn in the spring??

Spring Seeding
Spring Seeding

Can I plant fescue in the spring? This is a question we hear a lot every year at PPLM.  We at PPLM try our best not to do any spring seeding on our fescue lawns. Seeding of fescue lawns is best performed in the fall when the turf root has a better chance to get healthier and stronger throughout the winter.

When spring seeding of fescue lawns is a must do, because winter seeding was not effective or there are bare areas in the lawn due to construction, animal damage, or any other reason the winter seeding just didn’t do as well as expected.  Spring may be your only option.

Problems with Spring Seeding of fescue lawns

Winter Fertilizer
This is an example of winter fertilizer
  1. Timing of spring seeding could be the number one issue.  With the temperature swings in the spring it is hard to find the best time to seed.  Seed germination goes by soil temperature not air temperature. Seed does best germinating when the soil reaches 50-55 degrees.  As we all know in the spring temperatures can be freezing one day and 70 degrees the next.
  2. The lawn needs to have pre-emergent applied to the lawn.  Applying pre-emergents to the lawn creates a barrier preventing crabgrass and broadleaf weeds from germinating.  Unfortunately, this also prevents grass seed that was applied from sprouting.
  3. The lawn will also need to have some kind of herbicide applied to control annual broadleaf weeds.  Once this is applied spring seed may not be able to be planted for a certain period of time; all herbicides are different in the length of time required between application of weed control and application of spring seeding.
  4. The next issue could be a small issue but it is still there.  You need to WATER just like you did in the fall for the seeding process to be successful.  Some irrigation companies do not get your water turned on until later in the spring which means you will need to water manually.  The new seed will need to be watered at least 2 times a day to keep the seed moist which will help with a quick germination. Any delay in seed germination will also delay root growth which will make it hard for the new plants to survive the high summer heat.
  5. The last issue that you will face when seeding in the spring months is that your existing lawn will try to grow very fast because of the great growing temperatures and the winter fertilizer that was applied.  Mowing will be very difficult to perform without damaging the fragile new grass seedlings, the weight of the mowers can be too much stress for them.  This could also result in pushing down the new baby grass and it not recovering very well.

Helping with growing fescue in spring

If all of the best practices have been eliminated and you still want to attempt spring seeding, keep in mind that the seed will have a short root base.  During the summer months the root will not try to dive deep into the soil because the deep moisture level will be disappearing. The root will then start to search for moisture which is usually closer to the surface.  Once the root moves to the surface it will dry up much quicker and will most likely not survive the stress of the summer heat.

Conclusion of the question of the month.

Can I plant fescue in the spring?  In short yes, It will take a lot of work and patience.  It is going to take a lot of work from mother nature and time on your part.  The soil will have to stay moist for as long as possible to really drive that root down deep.  You have to look for other herbicides to use during the season to control the crabgrass and weed outbreaks.  There are other chemicals out there that will help with this but they are very expensive.  

All in all, we still suggest seeding in the fall. In the meantime get the soil corrected throughout the upcoming year, you will be providing the best environment possible for the new seed to be planted in the fall and giving that new seed the best chance at a healthy survival.

Spring Seeding

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