Turf can be laid at any time of year but grass seed is a little fussier. Advice from the UK’s best known turf grower on when to sow grass seed.
To establish successfully, grass seed needs
- Well prepared soil
- Warm (but not hot) soil
- Lots of daylight
- Soil which is moist but not waterlogged
- As a rule of thumb, Spring and Autumn sowings give best germination rates
- Autumn sown seed should form a lovely lawn by the next spring
- Weed control is slightly easier in autumn sown seed
When to sow a new lawn from grass seed
Plan to sow your seed when you can work with Mother Nature not against her. Grass seed needs warm moist soil. Logically, for most of the UK that happens naturally in either spring or autumn.
These are also the times of year when it is easiest to work with the soil to create a lovely fine seed bed. Digging in winter? Expect a sore back and a muddy mess. Digging in summer, prepare for dust and dehydration.
Between late February and mid-April and again from early September to mid-November, you’ll generally find that the soil is a good temperature and reasonably workable. We’re also getting plenty of daylight – which is important for healthy grass development.
Want to know when to sow grass seed? Take a trip out into the countryside and see what’s happening in the arable fields. If farmers are sowing seed, then you can too.
When to repair your lawn with grass seed
Lawn repairs are also best carried out in spring or autumn. However if you desperately need to fill in a bald patch, you can do so at any time, provided that the soil is not frozen. If you are making repairs in dry weather, be sure to keep the seed well-watered until the new grass is growing strongly.
Choosing the right grass seed for your lawn
The ultimate trick to growing grass seed is to choose the right variety for your lawn. If you visit the garden centre you may be confused by the enormous choice on offer, so here’s our guide to choosing lawn seed.
A blend of different grass species and varieties is always advisable. That way if one species is slower to establish than the others you’ll still have a lovely lawn.
For a general purpose or hardwearing lawn look for at least one type of perennial ryegrass in the mix.
To get a fine, velvety texture, look for a mixture containing fescue and/or browntop bent. Be aware though that these can be slightly more prone to disease. Unless you need a bowling-green type lawn, it’s a good idea to blend these with perennial ryegrass. For some reason, ryegrass tends to resist diseases for longer and recover from them quicker.
You may also come across Poa Pratensis or smooth stalked meadow grass in your quest for the perfect grass seed. Don’t be put off by that word “meadow”. Modern varieties are not at all coarse. This grass species is really good at self-repair. So if you have dogs, children or footballers using the lawn, add Smooth stalked meadow grass to the wish list.
For a shaded lawn, we recommend a species called Poa supina. It’s been developed from a family of grasses that grow in alpine meadows and spend part of the year underneath snow. This variety has fairly fine leaves – so it looks great on a lawn – and will tolerate dappled shade really well.
Try to avoid the grasses that claim to form a lawn in just a couple of weeks. Yes, they do grow quickly but they can be coarse leaved and are not necessarily hard wearing in a lawn situation. For a truly lovely lawn, opt for traditional, tried and tested grass species. After all, there’s a reason why gardeners, greenkeepers and landscapers have been using them for decades.
Buying your grass seed online
The Turfonline team have developed two grass seed blends that work well for domestic lawns.
Premium grass seed has everything you need for a velvety yet hardwearing lawn. Find out more here
Shadesman grass seed is 100% poa supina and perfect for lower light conditions. Find out more here