When is the Best Time of Year to Hydroseed A Lawn?
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Growing a lush, green lawn that grows well season after season can often come down to when you plant your seeds. Though there are several factors that impact the best time of year to hydroseed, getting the timing right will go a long way in toward setting your yard up for success.
In general, fall provides the best conditions for hydroseeding to establish well, but if you’ve missed the window, or need to seed during another time of year, considering some important factors will help you get the next-best results.
What factors influence the right time to hydroseed?
To plan the best timing for hydroseeding, consider the temperature of both the air and the soil, as well as the moisture levels and drainage of the area being seeded. These conditions combine to create a hospitable environment for seeds to germinate or remain dormant in until it’s time to germinate, or not.
Grass seeds will germinate when the soil temperatures are consistently above 50 degrees. Critically, soil temperatures are often different from the air temperatures by about 10 degrees. For example, if the weather forecasts temperatures in the 60s, the soil can predictably be measured at around 50 degrees.
It’s important to note, however, that the soil temperatures take time to catch up to ambient air temperatures, since soil acts as an insulator.
If you’re waiting for the soil temperature to heat up to the desired range, it’s best to wait until the temperatures have consistently reached into the 60s for several weeks – allowing the soil to adjust to the climate.
In addition to soil temperature, moisture levels in hydroseeded areas are also key to establishing a healthy lawn. Watering needs to be done consistently and carefully to ensure grass seeds are moist enough to germinate, but not so moist that fungus and bacteria can grow or that seeds are potentially washed away or redistributed after the hydroseeding process, which can happen if the area is overly wet regularly.
Properly irrigating the area can help manage runoff, and making sure sprinkler or watering systems are applying water evenly can help keep the area just right for seed germination.
The USDA has established a map to help determine which plants are likely to grow well in each part of the country. These ‘Hardiness Zones’ can help growers understand what their climate is like for growing, and what kinds of plants and grasses can be relied on to grow well in those areas.
This plant hardiness map can help you determine your zone based on your zip code, and then you can find the right varieties of grasses to seed for the heartiest, best looking result.
Choosing the Right Grass Seeds for Your Climate
Matching the right grass seed types to your climate will significantly improve your chances of grass seeding success. Some grass species are hearty and can tolerate fluctuations in weather and colder temperatures, while others are much more picky when it comes to their environment.
|USDA Zone(s)||Suitable Grass Species||When to Seed|
|Cool Season Grasses||4 – 6||Tall Fescue, Fine Fescues, Kentucky Bluegrass and Ryegrasses like Perennial Ryegrass||Fall or Winter|
|Transition Zone Grasses||7 – 10||Tall Fescue, Bermuda Grass, Zoysia Grass, Centipede Grass||Fall or Winter|
|Warm Season Grasses||10 – 12||Bermuda Grass, St. Augustine Grass, Zoysia Grass, Centipede Grass, Bahia Grass||Spring or Summer|
Warm season grasses are grass varieties that grow best in warmer, often more humid climates, especially those that average day time temperatures between 26 and 35 degrees Celsius, or between 79-95 degrees Fahrenheit. Grass types that grow well in warm climates are grasses like Bermuda grass and Bahia grasses.
Transition Zone Grasses
Transition zone grasses can generally grow and establish well in climates that have a consistent mix of both warm temperatures and cooler temperatures. These grass types are typically more hearty than their warm-season counterparts, and can include grass varieties like fescues and bermuda grasses.
The heartiest of the bunch, cold season grasses thrive in cooler climates. Popular cool season grass varieties for these climates include sturdy grass species like rye grasses and fescues.
Hydroseeding by the Season
Technically, hydroseeding can be completed any time of year, but there are advantages and challenges that come with each unique planting season. And some seasons tend to provide more hospitable climates for growing different varieties of grasses.
Spring can provide optimal conditions for hydroseeding, depending on your climate zone and the expected extended forecast. If you’re planning on a spring hydroseeding project, you may want to consult a farmers almanac or long-range forecast for your area to see what types of temperatures and weather patterns you’re likely to experience.
The key to spring hydroseeding is to watch for late season frost. If the ground freezes after hydroseed has been applied, there’s a good chance the cold will kill seeds or stunt their growth if they do survive. Keep your eyes on the overnight lows, and when you can be certain you’re out of the frost point, then you can hydroseed.
Moisture is another spring obstacle to hydroseeding. If you live in an area prone to heavy spring rains, it’s especially important to make sure you’ve designed the hydroseed site to make sure runoff is managed well so you don’t get pooling, which can drown seeds, or runoff which can sweep seeds from the area completely.
Summer is often a challenging time to hydroseed, but it can be done if you choose your timing correctly. Here, the issue is high temperatures and the tendency for seeds to dry out.
Keeping the area moist, even in the heat of the day, is critical to give seeds the conditions they need to germinate. This often means spending more money on water than you may need to at other times of year to get the same results.
If you live in an area where the early summers are typically mild, then hydroseeding has better chances for success. On the other hand, if daytime highs are consistently in the 80s or 90s, you may find it challenging to keep the soil wet enough for seeds to germinate, without also encouraging fungus, weeds, or other diseases that can damage grass growth.
An ideal time of year to hydroseed, fall often provides the best, most consistent conditions for successful hydroseeding. Note, however, this depends on your area and the expected climate. The key to hydroseeding in fall is to plan the application in the early fall, so you don’t run into frost, but not so early that the daytime highs will dry the soil out too much.
Daytime highs in the 60s or low 70s are ideal, and generally allow for germination without requiring too much water to keep them moist enough, long enough to germinate.
Hydroseeding in the winter can also be a great choice, depending on where you live and, again, the weather. When you hydroseed in the winter, you’ll be expecting the seeds to remain dormant throughout the winter, so generally the biggest obstacle is keeping the seeds where they need to be throughout the duration of the winter.
If winter rains are a concern, mulching and covering the area can protect against runoff and seed redistribution. If you live in an area where snowfall is expected, the snow can act as its own barrier to help keep seeds in place until spring.
To ensure the most successful hydroseeding results, watching the weather, and having a good understanding of your climate is critical. Choose the right seeds to match your climate, and you can be sure that you’ve given your hydroseeding project the very best chances to grow into the lawn that’s sure to be the envy of all the neighbors.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Can you hydroseed year-round?
Yes – depending on the climate.
Weather conditions dictate how successful hydroseeding results can be. Plan to hydroseed when weather is expected to be mild (in the mid 50s-low 70s) and neither frost nor too much rain, or high temperatures (upper 80s-100s) are expected.
Is it better to hydroseed in spring or fall?
Fall is often recommended as the best time of year to hydroseed because, for a large part of the country, weather conditions are typically mild and grass seeds can germinate before going dormant for the winter.
Is it too late to plant grass seed in October?
October, in many parts of the country, can be a great time of year to hydroseed as long as the overnight lows don’t reach into consistently freezing temperatures.
What is the best month to hydroseed?
The best month to hydroseed depends on your location. For many areas of the country, the late summer and early fall months are ideal times of the year to hydroseed. Generally this means September through November, depending on the weather.