When to plant a lawn

Discussion in 'HortForum' started by Mir, Mar 24, 2007.

  1. Mir

    Mir Member

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    I am working my way towards planting a lawn in our back yard (Vancouver, east side).
    I was hoping to plant this spring, but I have come accross many sites that say end of summer / early fall is a better time, because the soil is warmer, and weeds are not germinating so profusely at that time.
    I did search the forum here, but couldn't locate anything... I wanted to ask for those of you with experience to try to put a quantifier on the advantage of fall planting. If my only reason for planting in the spring is because I want to, would I be strongly advised to wait till the fall, or is it just a bit better then. I don't want to end up working against myself.
    Thanks so much, it is an incredible gift, as a gardening "rookie", to be able to bring all my problems here!!
    -Miranda M, Vancouver
     
  2. Don Ho

    Don Ho Active Member

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    Seeding a lawn just prior to the onset of optimum moisture and temperature for good seed germination is the best time. Late summer to early fall is advocated, as the little seedlings will be better able to handle any adverse conditions the following summer, such as drought. The soil is warm, and the fall and winter rain will help keep the young plants from drying out, which could occur with spring seeding and lack of water. There is less pressure from annual weeds in the late summer, but there is still the possibility that plants other than the lawn seed will also germinate and grow. Late fall seeding is not recommended, as the little seedlings are subject to frost heave damage in the spring. Now is probably the next best time to seed, provided the soil has warmed sufficiently and you can provide enough water if spring rains are insufficient. What kind of grass seed did you choose for your lawn?
     
  3. Mir

    Mir Member

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    Thanks for your reply Don.
    I posted on my earlier thread the kind of seed I am planning to use...

    ("TurfStar EnviroStar - made up of three fescues and a small amount of Rye. Hard, Chewings and Sheep fescue are naturalized in coastal BC and require less light and fertility and can handle the excessive moisture you describe. The small amount of rye provides a quick germinating cover crop for the slow germinating fescues.")

    I know so little about all this, but the yard is pretty much bare soil with weeds, and I want to do the best I can to get the lawn off to a good start. I know lawns aren't popular these days, but I love the idea of having a garden surface I can sit on and lie down on in the summer. When I was a kid, we spent hours on the lawn, and it was so pleasureable.

    I am so thankful to have this forum

    -Miranda
     
  4. Don Ho

    Don Ho Active Member

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    I am a big fan of lawns, and if they are organically maintained they are a blessing. With fall planting it will give you lots of time to prep the area, including digging weeds and removing debris before the compost arrives.
     
  5. M. D. Vaden

    M. D. Vaden Active Member 10 Years

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    When I worked at country clubs, nothing stopped us from growing lawn from seed in the late spring, or summer season.

    In fact, fall would be my last option.

    I recall putting seed down in mid-October one year, and the weather barely coorperated. If there is premature cooling, your attempts could be wiped out until the next year arrives. That consequence won't show its face in June or July.

    Sometimes, the freezing ground in fall and winter can heave the soil if the lawn is not established.

    So I'll take late spring over autumn any day.

    Late Spring allows identical prep time to Autumn, if you plan it right. About the third week of May, to mid-June would be great.

    There should not be any problems with summer, because you will be watering and planning.

    If you pick a Rye - I've seen germination occur in 5 days, and 7 to 8 days is usual. I can handle a bit of Fine Fescue, but not too much because it has a lot of lignin in the tissue and builds thatch at a different rate. The germination for Fine Fescue is longer. If both are seeded together, like a Sun and Shade mix, the Rye will sprout first and the Fine Fescue later, almost undetected.
     
  6. Mir

    Mir Member

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    Thanks M D. The argument I've heard for late summer/early fall is that you have an upper hand on the weeds, and I will need that for sure.
    I also posted another thread, about grass types and native species to survive a soil that holds moisture, and Don was suggesting ryegrass. I am totally open to suggestions. What I need is enough knowledge so I don't get sold something I don't want. I would be glad to know a good source for Vancouver area. UBC suggest David Hunter - if anyone else has recommendations, I'd be glad to hear them.
    I am having a look at your site info on soil care. I never knew there was so much to know about gardens. Its amazing.
     
  7. Don Ho

    Don Ho Active Member

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    Gardening is a life long learning process. I find that the more I research, the more I realize how little I know about the plant world and gardening. MD is quite correct in stating that lawns can be grown from seed all summer as long as the proper care is provided.
     
  8. M. D. Vaden

    M. D. Vaden Active Member 10 Years

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    I'd pick late summer over early fall if those were the choices.

    I think its an advantage, but a small advantage. Because cultivation can trigger germination of warm season weeds once more, and then there are the winter weeds that start to germinate in the cool season - autumn and winter.

    As long as you are not rototilling mud and goop, you can probably pick any month from late April to mid-October - an entire 1/2 year of options.

    Anyway, there are warm season weeds, followed by a cool season crop of winter weeds.
     
  9. Don Ho

    Don Ho Active Member

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    Yes indeed, there will always be some weed pressure, as our soils are seed banks. I think the advantage for late summer seeding and annual weeds is that the annuals would not have the summer to grow and set seed.
     

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