Planting Grass Seed in Missouri

by Dallas Piscopo

The best time for planting grass seed in Missouri is between Aug. 25 and Oct. 10.  Keep in mind that lawns seeded within a week of Labor Day are more likely to fill in completely for winter and produce a thicker, denser turf appearance for the following spring compared to lawns seeded in October.  You want to seed in the late summer because the warmer temperatures accompanied with adequate water will promote good grass seed germination.

Review the grasses below and after you make your selection that is best suited for where you will be planting, click on the planting grass seed page for detailed instructions on how to prepare your soilplanting grass seed, and watering after planting.

Tall Fescue

Tall fescue has been used traditionally for a low-maintenance grass in places that a coarser texture is not a concern. Tall fescue can handle soils low in nutrients, grows well under low maintenance and features good tolerance to insects and diseases. Tall fescue seed germinates and establishes rapidly but a bit slower than perennial ryegrass. When fully established, tall fescue has outstanding wear tolerance and due to its deep rooting system, tolerates drought and will stay green for the duration of most Missouri summers without extra irrigation. Tall fescue seedlings will not be cold-tolerant and can die if planted too late in the season. However, well-established seedlings and fully developed lawns will withstand most Missouri winters.

The best time for planting tall fescue seed in Missouri is between Aug. 25 and Oct. 10.  Keep in mind that lawns seeded within a week of Labor Day are more likely to fill in completely for winter and produce a thicker, denser turf appearance for the following spring compared to lawns seeded in October. If choosing tall fescue, always plant it by itself because it is not compatible to grow well with other grass varieties. Seed at 6 to 8 pounds per 1,000 square feet under a well prepared soil.

Tall fescue grows rapidly and needs frequent mowing, especially during the summer. Mow frequently making sure not to cut off more than one third of the grass height which will prevent unsightly scalping of your grass.  Apply 1-1.5 lbs/1,000 sq ft of nitrogen in September and November and in May only apply one pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet.

Fine Fescue

Red, hard and chewings fine fescues are fine-leaved turfgrasses that are suited well for conditions of shade, low soil moisture, low fertility, and soils with unfavorable pH levels. The fine fescues will need well-drained and somewhat dry soils with minimal amounts of management. Extra applications of fertilizer, frequent irrigation or establishment on poorly drained soils can lead to a drop in quality and plant body. With ideal management, the fine fescues could make an attractive turf for your lawn. In Missouri,  fine fescues are seldom seeded by itself. Fine fescues are commonly found in mixtures with the other cool-season turfgrasses on low maintenance or shady lawns.

Kentucky Bluegrass

Kentucky bluegrass is the most cold resistant grass variety and is well adapted for your high elevetion colder regions of Missouri.  Newer varieties will be more resistant against diseases. It performs best in full sun, but could be mixed with a fine fescue to use in shady areas. Bluegrass might need one to three months to germinate and establish, based upon site conditions. It makes an outstanding athletic field. Bluegrass could be seeded or sodded for establishment.

Good soil preparation is very important when planting Kentucky bluegrass seed.  (Visit the soil preparation and planting grass seed page for detailed instructions.)  September is the best time to plant bluegrass seed because of warm soil temperatures and low weed competition.

Plant at 3 pounds per 1,000 square feet or 1.5 pounds per 1,000 square feet for over-seeding projects. Kentucky bluegrass grows best when mowed at a height of 2 to 3 inches and for low maintenance lawns should be fertilized twice a year.  One pound nitrogen per 1,000 square feet in September and another application at the same rate in November.  One more pound of nitrogen in late April or early May is recommended.  (Click here for more information on grass fertilizer.)

Zoysia Grass

For a truly low maintenance lawn where no irrigation system is installed, zoysia grass is a good option. Zoysia grass may be hard to establish because of it slow growth and having a long dormant season, but once established, it can make a wonderful fine-textured turf cover.  It can be established by vegetative parts and by seeds.  The most common zoysia is a low maintenance turf grass whose leaf texture is like that of bermuda grass and like bermuda grass, forms stolons and rhizomes. Mow at ¾ to 1 ¼ inch.  Zoysia leaves and stems are strong and rigid which enables it to handle a good deal of traffic when it is growing well during the hot summer season.  With little water required, zoysia grass can grow well during the summer because of it’s heat and drought tolerance.  It is more shade tolerant than bermuda grass but only in areas where it is warm year round.  Zoysia grass suits well with low maintenance lawns where slow establishment is not a concern.

For detailed instructions on planting grass seed, soil preparation, grass fertilizer, and watering, check out the Planting Grass Seed Center Home Page.

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