It’s fall lawn seeding time in Johnson County — Here are one local expert’s tips

fall seeding

Here are Johnson County K-State Extension Office's fall seeding tips for homeowners. Image via Shutterstock. Used under Creative Commons license.

It’s that time of year again, Johnson County: fall seeding time, when local lawn mavens look to rehab their yards from the stress of summer and set up for green growth next spring.

The Post, as it’s done in the past, recently spoke with Dennis Patton, extension master gardener at the Johnson County K-State Extension Office, to get some tips on how homeowners can set their lawns up for success this fall.

Whether you’re a first time homeowner or are just looking for reminders on seasonal lawn care, here are Patton’s tips that could make your lawn the envy of the block.

Johnson County fall seeding questions answered

fall seeding Johnson County
Fall is a time overseed your lawn to help it recover from the hot, dry summer and prepare it for growth next spring. Photo credit Kyle Palmer.

When is the best time to seed in the fall?

Typically, it’s September, Patton said.

  • With warm, sunny days and cool nights, and (usually) more frequent rain, it’s a conducive environment for seeds to germinate rapidly, he said.
  • While you may not see a lot of top growth from September to early December, he said, the warm soil temperatures are ideal for “the internal system” like root development that supports top growth in the long run, he said.

What type of seed should I buy?

There are two types of seed that are best for the Kansas City area’s climate, Patton said: Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescues.

  • There are also several varieties of each type of grass, he said.
  • Nurseries typically sell a mixture of seed, he said, as different varieties are more immune to different issues like disease or drought.

How much seed do I need?

For homeowners this tie of year, what you should actually do is overseed your lawn, Patton said.

  • Putting down extra grass seed will help dried-out and patchy spots on our lawn recover heading into winter.
  • For overseeding, Patton said that will mean about four pounds of tall fescue per 1,000 square feet or lawn and about 2 pounds of Kentucky bluegrass per 1,000 square feet.

How much and how often do I water for seeding?

Before overseeding or reseeding your lawn, you want to make sure the soil is damp, Patton said.

  • After spreading the seed, he said, lightly water the lawn again to account for any evaporation.
  • The goal is to ensure the lawn remains moist — not necessarily drenched — at all times.

Do I need to aerate my lawn before seeding?

Aerating is good, but the better method is to use a verticutter, Patton said.

  • A verticutter is a tool with a row of saw blades that are about an inch apart, and they slice through the soil and create a seed bed.
  • This allows seeds to directly contact the soil, which is key for germination, Patton said.
  • Aerating also works, but it won’t give homeowners the uniform stand of grass like verticutting, he said.

What about fertilizing?

Patton said people should fertilize at the same time they lay the seed, since “the goal is to push the grass to grow as fast and as vigorous as possible.”

  • This will help create an established lawn, which can then better withstand weather conditions.
  • A follow-up fertilizer treatment can be done about a month after overseeding, Patton said.
  • Most nurseries sell fertilizers to go with grass seed.

How long till I see results?

That depends on the type of seed you buy, Patton said.

  • An established lawn created from tall fescue could take about seven to 10 days to germinate and start growing.
  • Kentucky bluegrass can take about two weeks for establishment, he said.
  • Anyone with additional questions can contact the extension office’s garden hotline for free, Patton said.
  • The number is (913) 715-7050.