Planting Grass Seed in New York

by Dallas Piscopo

Planting grass seed in upstate New York should be done between August 15 and September 15 and between August 15 and October 1 in south-eastern New York.  Seeding in late summer/early fall provides warm soils, cool temperatures, and autumn rains that create a good environment for seed germination.  Grass can be established in  the spring and early summer but you will have a problem with weeds taking over your lawn.  Planting grass in late summer or early fall will produce the thicker, denser grass lawn.

Recommended grass varieties to be planted in New York are…

Kentucky Bluegrass

This grass will be your best choice for New York.  Kentucky bluegrass is the most cold tolerant grass species but newer and improved varieties are becoming more drought and temperature tolerant making bluegrass an attractive year-round grass for New York.  Kentucky bluegrass usually turns brown during hot, dry summers when irrigation is not provided but bounces back quickly when the cooler weather and rains come back. Use a blend of at least three different bluegrass varieties to help resistance against disease.

Kentucky bluegrassplanted in New York is often blended with other cool season grasses like perennial rye grass. Its quick establishment time frame works well with the reduced establishment time of bluegrass. It’s also a fine textured grass much like bluegrass with good drought tolerance. Not necessarily as cold tolerant as bluegrass but can work well in suitable areas. Plant Kentucky bluegrass at 3 pounds per 1,000 square feet or 1.5 pounds per 1,000 square feet for over-seeding projects. Mow at 2 to 3 inches.

Fine Fescue

Fine fescue varieties are fine-leaved turf grasses that are suited well for conditions of shade, low soil moisture, low fertility, and soils with unfavorable pH levels. The fine fescues planted in sandy soils with good drainage grow best so adding a layer of sand on top of your soil surface during soil preparation can be effective. 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. Fine fescues are seldom seeded by itself. Fine fescues are commonly found in mixtures with the other cool-season turf grasses on low maintenance or shady lawns. Plant at  5 pounds per 1,000 square feet and maintain mowing height between 3 and 4 inches.

Tall Fescue

Tall fescue is becoming more and more popular in New York. It grows well under low fertility and moisture and is disease tolerant.  It is a coarse textured turf grass but some of the newer varieties express fine-textured leaves and produce an attractive lawn if grown properly.  Tall fescue grow rapidly during its growing season so prepare for frequent mowing.  It generally does not survive harsh winters so avoid planting this grass north of Westchester and Orange counties.  Tall fescue should always be planted by itself because it is not compatible with other grasses. Mow frequently making sure not to cut off more than one third of the grass height which will prevent unsightly scalping of your grass. Seed at 6 to 8 pounds per 1,000 square feet under a well prepared soil. 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.

Click on one of the grasses for planting details and then visit the Planting Grass Seed page for detailed instructions on how to correctly prepare your soil and plant your grass seed for your lawn. 

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