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Tips for a Successful Spring Seeding in 2024

March 11, 2024 | Categories: ,
grass seed pile against white

With warmer weather comes an opportunity to establish new turf before the heat of the summer sets in. Spring seedings can be very successful but have their own set of challenges that need to be considered.

Let’s start with some basics about seed germination: Most cool-season grasses need consistent soil temperatures over 55°F to begin germinating.  Because grass seed sits on the surface of the soil or slightly below the surface, a cold night can cause soil temperatures to easily drop below this mark—even in nice weather. Seed can be applied before this magic number is hit, but germination should not be expected until we have consistent soil temperatures above 55 degrees.

As with seeding at any time, site preparation is important. Before establishment is the best time to test and amend soil if needed. Additions of fertilizer or organic material to soils can be very beneficial and allow for the best chance for success. Areas that are to be seeded should be loosened by using soil tillage equipment, preferably to a depth of four inches or more. The deeper the soil is amended and loosened, the better chance you have for a healthy lawn with deep roots.

Spring seeding can add some complications to your weed control options. Many of our most challenging summer weeds are warm-season grasses like crabgrass and goosegrass. Typical pre-emergent herbicides such as prodiamine or dithiopyr cannot be used on areas where you plan to establish turf in the spring. Use mesotrione as your pre-emergent herbicide in these areas at the time of seeding and again about four weeks after seedling emergence. Follow the label instructions for rates and timing for the product you choose. Mesotrione is root absorbed by weeds so irrigation is needed after application to make it effective. Mesotrione is both a pre-emergent and post-emergent herbicide. This means it will kill existing weeds and stop many new weeds from germinating. It has the unique attribute of allowing most cool-season grasses to germinate and develop without any issues while inhibiting many warm-season grasses and broadleaf weeds from germinating—and killing many that are already growing. Young grass plants are also susceptible to damage from most post-emergent herbicides, and they should be avoided until the new turf is established and has been mowed a few times. This reaffirms mesotrione as the best option in this young stage of the grass’ life. For ease, I recommend 21-22-4 w/Mesotrione because it kills two birds with one stone. You get weed control and a starter fertilizer in one application. Armortech Trione, a liquid formulation, can also be used, but don’t forget to apply a starter fertilizer if you use Trione as the young plants need easy access to nutrients. 

Seedings this time of year often benefit from spring rains. Those are very helpful to get the grass growing, but make sure you have a backup plan to be able to irrigate the area if the rain doesn’t come. Using seed with an XCD coating can help you reduce the amount of water needed to get turf established. XCD will hold moisture against the seed and also contains vital nutrients and bio-stimulants that promote early root and shoot development. XCD-coated seed needs 30% less water than uncoated seed during establishment.  

The goal with a spring seeding is to make sure the plant has enough care and nutrition to develop long roots before the heat of summer hits. Spring seedings will need extra attention in their first summer; Make sure they have enough moisture to stay out of dormancy. After the establishment stage, a slow release fertilizer is suggested to make sure the plant always has the nutrients it needs to develop properly. Mowing turf slightly higher than normal can help increase the root depth and mass, which increases the chance of summer survival and having a healthy lawn all around. 

Spring seeding is often a necessity and can be very successful if the proper pre and post-care steps are taken. Contact your Advanced Turf Solutions Representative to learn about our seed and fertilizer options.

Rusty Stachlewitz
Seed Product Manager

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