Grass seed planting schedules vary per state, since factors such as seasons and soil temperatures should be considered. If you’re from Iowa, it’s important that you know the best time to plant grass seed in your area.
So, when to plant grass seed in Iowa? The best time to seed grass is in the fall in Iowa, specifically from August 15 to September 30, although the grass seeding season can go as late as October 15.
Want to know more? Simply read this article further!
Table of Contents
- Best Time to Plant Grass Seed in Iowa
- 1. Early summer to mid-fall planting for cool-season lawns
- 2. Late fall to early winter planting
- 3. Spring Iowa planting for warm-season grass
- Where Should I Plant Grass Seeds?
- Best Grass Seed for Iowa
- 1. Kentucky Bluegrass
- 2. Perennial Ryegrass
- 3. Buffalograss
- 4. Tall Fescue
- 5. Fine Fescue
- 6. Zoysiagrass
- Factors Affecting the Success of Planting Grass Seed in Iowa
- 1. Sunlight
- 2. Soil
- 3. Water
- 4. Fertilizer
- 5. Mowing
- Iowa Lawn Care Schedule
- How Do I Overseed My Lawn?
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Time to Plant Grass Seed in Iowa
1. Early summer to mid-fall planting for cool-season lawns
August 15 to September 30 is the best time of year to start grass in Iowa’s northern and central parts. This is due to grass seedlings’ germination time and growth speed brought about by ideal soil, day and nighttime temperatures.
You can also perform fall grass seeding in early October in the southern parts of the state, so a bit later than other regions.
Take note that if you are not from these areas, your chances of establishing a successful lawn lessen as each day in October passes by. The general rule is to plant 45 days before the first frost at the latest.
2. Late fall to early winter planting
If you desire lush green grass in the next succeeding spring season, you can also try your luck with dormant seeding in Iowa from November 15 to December 14.
However, this process is tricky, since you have a lot of factors to consider, such as germination time, cold winter temperatures, when to put grass seed down, and soil conditions.
Grass seeds can die in the cold, for example, or germinate too early and then get snuffed out due to extreme snow. If you opt for dormant seeding, wait until temperatures remain under 50 degrees and use an interseeder for planting.
3. Spring Iowa planting for warm-season grass
Luckily, you can also seed lawn grass for early spring in Iowa. For warm grass seed species, you would have to plant from June 1 to 14 or after the last frost.
This is why spring grass seed timing can begin as early as March. Although spring is the next best time to lay grass seed in Iowa, it usually brings more weed problems compared to fall gardening. One way to mitigate this issue is to apply a pre-emergent herbicide before planting.
Where Should I Plant Grass Seeds?
A soil pH of 6 to 7.5 generally works best. You can use lime to increase the pH and peat moss or sulfur to lower it. A layer of sand and compost over the planting area will also increase the soil’s organic content, reduce thatch, and allow you to use less fertilizer.
Best Grass Seed for Iowa
Refer to the table below to know the best Iowa grass seed varieties and their characteristics:
1. Kentucky Bluegrass
- Texture: Medium
- Color: Dark green
- Spread: Rhizomes
- Optimal Soil Temp: 50°F to 65°F
- Days to Germinate: 14 to 30 days
- Tolerance: Good drought and cold tolerance, poor shade tolerance
2. Perennial Ryegrass
- Texture: Medium to coarse
- Color: Dark green
- Spread: Tillers
- Optimal Soil Temperature: 68°F to 77°F
- Days to Germinate: 7 to 14 days
- Tolerance: Moderate shade tolerance, good drought and cold tolerance
- Texture: Fine
- Color: Blue to grayish green
- Spread: Stolons and rhizomes
- Optimal Soil Temperature: 55°F to 80°F
- Days to Germinate: 14 to 21 days
- Tolerance: High drought and cold tolerance, poor shade tolerance
4. Tall Fescue
- Texture: Coarse
- Color: Medium to dark green
- Spread: Tillers or rhizomes
- Optimal Soil Temperature: 60°F to 65°F
- Days to Germinate: 7 to 21 days
- Tolerance: High drought tolerance, good shade and cold tolerance
5. Fine Fescue
- Texture: Fine
- Color: Medium to dark green
- Spread: Rhizomes or bunches
- Optimal Soil Temperature: 50°F to 65°F
- Days to Germinate: 5 to 12 days
- Tolerance: Good drought and cold tolerance, high shade tolerance
- Texture: Medium
- Color: Dark green
- Spread: Stolons and rhizomes
- Optimal Soil Temperature: 65°F to 70°F
- Days to Germinate: 14 to 24 days
- Tolerance: High cold and drought tolerance, good shade tolerance
Factors Affecting the Success of Planting Grass Seed in Iowa
Although some species and cultivars may tolerate shade, grass seeds generally require a minimum of 6 hours of direct sunlight daily, but if you really want to achieve that lush green color, going for 8 hours or more a day is the key.
Performing a soil test and supplementing any lacking nutrients as shown in the results is important and can significantly affect the establishment of your grass seed. Remove and dispose of any weeds and other vegetation.
Afterwards, firm the soil by using a packer or roller. Soil firmness is essential as it affects how deep you can seed your grass.
Whether you have seeded a new or existing lawn, the soil should remain consistently moist but not wet. Grass seeds are vulnerable to injuries brought about by extreme heat or drought. Apply water if the top 1-inch layer of the soil is dry.
Apply fertilizer based on the prescribed results of your soil test prior to planting grass seeds. This application will be enough for the next 6 to 8 weeks of turfgrass growth, but you can also make repeat applications depending on when you have sown your grass.
Knowing when to apply fertilizer is essential. Specifically, if you follow a fall planting schedule, fertilize your lawn in spring or fall around mid-September to early November.
Begin mowing your lawn when the turf reaches a minimum of 2.5 inches in height. Depending on the environmental conditions, this takes place about 4 to 6 weeks after the seeds have been sown.
Here is a guide on the ideal height for the different grass types:
- Kentucky bluegrass: 2 to 3 inches
- Perennial ryegrass: 2 to 3 inches
- Buffalograss: 2 to 4 inches
- Tall fescue: 2 to 4 inches
- Fine fescue: 1.5 to 3 inches
- Zoysiagrass: 1 to 2.5 inches
Additionally, verticutting lawn grass can also positively affect your overall turfgrass health. Do this task during the growing season to remove thatch, then apply fertilizer afterwards.
Iowa Lawn Care Schedule
Here is a summary calendar to guide you in taking care of your lawn:
How Do I Overseed My Lawn?
The following steps show how you can perform overseeding in Iowa:
- Perform a soil test and make any necessary amendments.
- Mow the existing turfgrass to eliminate competition for the new turf. The ideal height is around 1.5 to 2 inches.
- Begin sowing your choice of grass seed. Use a lawn spreader to evenly apply half of it in one direction and the remaining half in the opposite direction.
- Make sure there is adequate seed-to-soil contact to encourage germination by firming the seeds into the soil. You can use a metal rake or roller.
- Perform the same care and maintenance you would make when seeding a new lawn. Water immediately to help the grass establish, about two times a day for the first four days.
The best time to overseed in the state is basically the same as planting new turfgrass, which means it is sometime between August 15 to September 15.
Frequently Asked Questions
What happens if you seed your lawn too early?
Your lawn may have uneven patches of turfgrass as some seeds might germinate earlier or later than the others. Animals may also eat the seeds before they can grow.
How do I prepare my yard for grass seed?
This is done by raking, removing, and disposing of any debris in your yard, which may include stones, woods, sticks, old grass, and any large roots.
How long does grass seed take to grow fully?
Generally, if they are grown in optimal environmental conditions, seeds can begin germination within 8 to 10 days and reach maturity after 6 to 8 weeks.
What month is best to plant grass seed?
For cool-season grasses, this is around September, while warm-season grasses grow best when planted in March to July when the temperature is high (around 80 degrees).
When is a good time to start planting grass seed?
Start seeding your grass in the early morning. Make sure to check your weather forecast beforehand to see if you have a warm and sunny day ahead of you.
Hopefully by the end of this article, you now know when to plant grass seed in Iowa. One thing to remember is that timing—and choosing the appropriate grass seed type to plant–are highly essential factors to consider.
Additionally, you should also look out for various grass seed requirements such as sunlight, soil, water, fertilizer, and mowing to increase your chances of successfully establishing a lush green lawn come next season.
5/5 - (1 vote)
When to Plant Grass Seed in Iowa for a Green Carpet? ›
The best time to seed a lawn in Iowa is between mid- August and mid/late September. However, lawns can be successfully established as late as late-September in central Iowa and early October in southern Iowa. Late summer planting is preferred to spring seeding because seeds germinate and grow rapidly in the warm soil.When should I put grass seed down in Iowa? ›
The best time to seed cool-season grasses is late summer. I generally pick August 15 as the target date for the best time to seed. Seeding can generally take place as late as the end of September. Seeding dates in October can work, but the chance of success goes down each day after the first of October.How long does it take for carpet grass seed to germinate? ›
After the seed sprouts, monitor the moisture level and do not let the soil dry out until the grass begins to creep by sending out stolons. A carpet grass lawn takes approximately eight weeks to become established.What months are best to put grass seed down? ›
Lawn seeds germinate best in early autumn and mid-spring. The soil is warm, there's plenty of moisture and the weather is neither too cold nor too hot. Germination should take from seven to ten days.How late in fall can you plant grass seed in Iowa? ›
The best time to seed a lawn in Iowa is between mid- August and mid/late September. However, lawns can be successfully established as late as late-September in central Iowa and early October in southern Iowa.Should you mow before putting down grass seed? ›
Mow Low. Before overseeding your thin lawn, cut your grass shorter than normal and bag the clippings. After mowing, rake the lawn to help loosen the top layer of soil and remove any dead grass and debris. This will give the grass seed easy access to the soil so it can root more easily after germinating.Can you grow carpet grass from seed? ›
Growing carpetgrass from seeds isn't tricky. Wait until the warmer spring weather arrives. Tilling the soil so it is loose and smooth will help the seeds to sprout more quickly. After scattering seeds over the soil, rake lightly to ensure optimal soil coverage.What kind of grass grows like carpet? ›
Zoysia is a particularly hardy grass that grows well in a wide range of conditions and requires far less watering and mowing than most grasses. At the same time, this “tough” grass creates a thick, soft carpet that feels great in bare feet. Zoysia is ideal because it actually grows differently.Is there seed for carpet grass? ›
Carpetgrass Seeds Coated 2 Lbs (Carpet Grass Seed)
Can you just sprinkle grass seed on lawn? ›
If you simply toss the grass seed onto the soil, you will end up with poor germination. Thoroughly rake the area to remove any loose debris and to create grooves in the soil. These grooves will help increase the seed-to-soil contact that is imperative for germination.What is the easiest carpet grass? ›
Java moss is arguably one of the easiest carpeting plants to grow and also one of the most adaptable. Java moss will happily grow on just about any surface, whether it is gravel, rock, driftwood, or even a resin aquarium ornament.What is the fastest germinating grass seed? ›
What type of seeds grow the fastest? Bermuda grass is the fastest-growing warm season grass, germinating in as little as 10 days. Ryegrass, which grows in cool climates, also germinates that quickly.Is it better to water new grass seed in morning or evening? ›
The best time to water grass seed is in the morning and evening. These are the coolest parts of the day, which allows water to absorb into the ground instead of evaporating.Will grass seed germinate on top of soil? ›
Will grass seed germinate on top of the soil? Yes; in fact, germination will suffer if too much soil is placed on top of the seeds. The experts at Jonathan Green recommend placing a thin layer of mulch or topsoil over them to help keep them moist and warm and promote growth.Should you fertilize or seed first in the fall? ›
Do I apply the fertilizer before seeding or after? Apply the fertilizer before seeding. When is the best time to plant a new lawn? Spring and fall are the best times to plant a new lawn.What kind of grass seed do I need in Iowa? ›
Cool-season (northern) grasses are primarily planted in Iowa and grow best in the spring and fall. The four cool-season grasses mainly used are Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue, perennial ryegrass, and fine fescues. In Iowa, Kentucky bluegrass is the best-adapted grass for lawn use.Is it too late to overseed in Iowa? ›
About Overseeding a Lawn
If you don't want to wait until late summer or early fall to overseed your lawn, you can do it between March and mid-June as well. When you choose Black Beauty turfgrasses that are so deeply rooted (up to four feet deep) and drought tolerant, you can still enjoy great success.
While planting grass seed in November is too late to make the fall growing season, there is a method called dormant seeding. Through dormant seeding, grass seed can be planted in November when the weather is cold enough to keep it dormant until the weather warms up in the spring.Should I rake my grass seed into soil? ›
Raking is necessary because the seeds need to come in contact with the soil to germinate properly. Grass seed is typically spread on the lawn using a spreader and this does not ensure good contact between seed and soil.
How do I prepare my yard for grass seed? ›
Remove all debris and any wood, stones or large roots. Use a spade and garden rake to scratch the soil 1 to 2 inches at the surface, then dig about 6 inches deep to remove roots and rocks. Add seeding soil to the top of your existing soil and smooth with the rake.Should I water grass after laying seed? ›
With new grass seed, the aim is to keep the soil moist. Waterlogged soil will suffocate the new seeds. It is best to water the grass seedlings 2 to 3 times a day for about 5 to 10 minutes each time.What is carpet grass called? ›
Other common names for carpetgrass include Louisianagrass, flatgrass, and petit gazon. Whatever you call it, carpetgrass spreads through above-ground stems or “runners” called stolons. It has a light green color and a medium texture, in between coarse and fine.Is carpet grass the same as crabgrass? ›
Crabgrass is another common grassy weed that looks like carpetgrass and produces similar seed stalks in summer. Some features of crabgrass that can help you tell it apart from carpetgrass: Star pattern: As it sprouts, crabgrass stems grow outward from the center of the plant in a star-like pattern.How long does carpet grass last? ›
Although estimates of longevity vary due to many factors, you can expect an artificial turf lawn to last at least 8-10 years. With high-quality turf and a little regular upkeep (raking and rinsing), you can easily expect your ever-green yard to withstand 15 to 20 years.Is carpet grass expensive? ›
With a price between $2 and $8 per square foot, the cost to install artificial grass is higher than the cost to install sod, which runs between $0.90 and $2 per square foot.How much carpet grass seed do I need? ›
Most seed bags will recommend a range such as 250-400 square feet per pound. Seeding a new lawn or spot repair usually takes roughly twice as much seed as overseeding an existing lawn. Use the rate with the heaviest coverage for new lawns and to fill in bare or damaged areas.What is the fastest growing carpet plant? ›
Fastest to grow
Glossostigma elatinoides spreads very fast and is easy to grow in a CO2 injected tank. It is a carpet plant that can be grown without CO2 if you have a ton of light. HC also grows quickly when conditions are good. Monte carlo and dwarf hairgrass are slightly slower in comparison.
Synthetic grass, better known as artificial grass, green carpet or fake lawn or fake grass, is the ideal solution for school playgrounds, indoor activity centres, as well as outdoor putting greens and sportsfields.How much carpet grass seed per acre? ›
When seeding new turf grass, we recommend a seed rate of 4-7 lbs of seed per 1,000 square feet (the equivalent of 175-250 lbs per acre). The following images illustrate what that looks like over a one-square-foot area.
Is carpet grass the same as Bermuda grass? ›
It thrives in areas too wet for bermudagrass and tolerates more shade than bermudagrass. The ability of carpetgrass to thrive under low fertility makes it suitable for use on low maintenance areas such as parks, roadsides, airports and golf course roughs.What should I put down before grass seed? ›
Mulch with a thin layer of weed-free straw such as wheat straw. As an alternative, you can use a seed starter mat or seed blanket to help keep the seed and loose soil from washing or blowing away.Can I sprinkle grass seed on bare spots? ›
Gently sprinkle the seed on the bare spot until it's sufficiently covered. You still should be able to see the soil. 6. Water gently.How many blades of grass are in one seed? ›
Many grass seeds can produce 10 to 16 leaves/blades per seed, all of which compete for resources to survive. If you plant too densely, the blades of grass will fight with each other and none will thrive. The losers will be left to rot whereas the winners will be weakened.How fast does green carpet grow? ›
Vigorous & dependable, it can grow over a foot wide in a season.Does carpet grass turn brown in winter? ›
It is a normal natural process for grass to stop growing, turn brown, and enter a dormant state during winter. Much like animals that hibernate in the winter, your lawn is basically in survival mode to protect itself from harsh cold weather.Can you plant too much grass seed? ›
Ignoring recommended seeding rates
Don't overdo or cut corners. Too much grass seed causes undue competition for resources such as light, water and nutrients, and grass seedlings struggle as a result. Too little seed leaves lawns thin or bare.
If you're looking to fill bare spots and thin areas of your lawn, Pennington Bare Spot Repair is your answer. This grass seed mix establishes quickly and is guaranteed to make your lawn whole again. Plant this grass seed mix in the early spring or early fall and see results within 5 to 14 days.What seeds germinate in 1 days? ›
If the seeds are really fresh, some will germinate in as little as 1 day! The fastest germinating seeds include everything in the cabbage family – bok choi, broccoli, kale, cauliflower etc, and lettuce. The slowest seeds to germinate are pepper, eggplant, fennel, celery, which may take 5+ days.Should you soak grass seed in water before planting? ›
Turfgrass seeds can be soaked in water for 3 to 5 days to germinate. Kentucky Bluegrass (KBG) is slow to germinate and should be soaked for five days. See the chart below for recommendations on how many days to soak the most popular cool-season turfgrass seed.
What happens if I miss a day of watering grass seed? ›
What Will Happen if You Miss a Day of Watering Your Grass Seed? If you miss a day of watering your grass seed, there is no great harm done. Missing a day of watering the grass seed should be fine, but two or more days of missing it and having no rainfall might kill your seeds, which will require you to start over.Do birds eat grass seed? ›
Birds eat grass seed for a variety of reasons, but the most common reason is that it's easily accessible.Should grass seed be covered? ›
After you finish laying down the grass seed and lawn food, cover both with a thin layer of soil to help keep the grass seed from drying out and washing away.
New grass should be watered twice a day (or more under dryer conditions) to keep the top two inches of soil moist at all times. Water daily until all of the grass seeds have germinated, then it will be ready to begin a regular watering schedule.Which grass seed is best? ›
- Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed. – Best Grass Seed Overall. ...
- Pennington Smart Seed Dense Shade Grass Seed. ...
- Jonathan Green Beauty Ultra Grass Seed. ...
- Kentucky Tall Fescue Grass Seed. ...
- GreenView Fairway Formula Grass Seed. ...
- Oregon Grown Premium Grass Seed. ...
- Southland Marathon II Grass Seed.
The best month to put grass seed down depends on the type of grass you have. The best time to plant grass seed for cool-season grasses is in early fall or around September. For warm-season grasses, late spring or early summer is the optimal time.When should I fertilize my lawn in Iowa? ›
The best times to fertilize cool-season grasses in Iowa are spring, mid-September and late October/early November. When fertilizing the lawn, do not apply more than one pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet in one application.What month should I fertilize lawn? ›
Timing: Apply early spring lawn fertilizer once between February and April, when your grass is starting to green up and begin to actively grow (around the time your lawn first needs to be mowed).How long can grass seed lay on the ground before it goes bad? ›
Dry grass seeds can survive for two to three years as long as they're not exposed to moisture or extreme weather conditions. Grass seeds need to be watered as soon as they are planted. The seed will immediately start absorbing water in a process called imbibition.Should you water grass seed after putting it down? ›
Water new grass seed for 5 to 10 minutes immediately after planting to gently moisten the first several inches of soil.
What is the fastest growing grass in Iowa? ›
Perennial ryegrass is a bunch-type grass used primarily in seed mixtures because it establishes fast. Due to this fast germination rate, it's used to crowd out weeds while slower-growing grasses, like KBG, germinate.
Kentuck Bluegrass. The most widely used grass on lawns throughout Iowa, especially Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, is Kentucky bluegrass.What is the easiest grass seed to plant? ›
Bermuda grass is the fastest-growing warm season grass, germinating in as little as 10 days. Ryegrass, which grows in cool climates, also germinates that quickly.How many times a year should you overseed? ›
Make it an annual practice.
"Annual overseeding is recommended to thicken lawns and make them more attractive, but also to introduce improved varieties of grass that are hardier, less prone to insects and diseases, and more drought tolerant," explains Mayer.
Ignoring recommended seeding rates
Don't overdo or cut corners. Too much grass seed causes undue competition for resources such as light, water and nutrients, and grass seedlings struggle as a result.
The grass can rob the seed of some necessary sunlight to grow. So to give the seed a better chance, mow the existing grass slightly shorter than you normally would cut it. For example, normally you should cut grass to a height of 3 to 3.5 inches. But to prepare for overseeding, reduce that height to 1.5 to 2 inches.Does 1 grass seed equal one blade of grass? ›
In short, there is no definitive answer to how many blades of grass grow from one individual seed as there can be multiple. Think of grass as a plant and the blades like a leaf. With a regular plant, you can never determine how many leaves will be produced from a single seed and the same goes for a lawn.Can you water too much grass seed? ›
Yes, new grass seed can be overwatered. Too much water can drown the seedlings before they germinate or wash them away. Too much water can also move soil and bury the seeds, effectively choking them off from sunlight and nutrients.Can you walk on grass seed? ›
Can You Walk On Grass Seed? Yes, you can walk on grass seed when you do so with caution. Avoidance is always best, but when necessary, use common sense and travel as lightly and as briefly over newly seeded areas to give all your seeds a chance to sprout.