How to Plant Grass in the Fall


Intermediate and cool-season grasses like Kentucky bluegrass, perennial rye grass and fescues can be planted in spring or fall but do best when started in fall. They germinate best as the soil temperature cools toward 60 degrees F; this coincides with the period when cool season grasses "perk up" in fall. Although warm season grass sod will be successful when laid when soil temperatures cool in fall, seeding coincides with the beginning of their dormant season and is not advised.

Step 1

Cultivate the area to be planted with shovel and cultivator or a rotary tiller to a depth of about 6 inches. Break the soil into pebble-size pieces. Add 2 inches of well-rotted compost or manure and work it into the topsoil for a loamy, well-drained base.

Step 2

Rake out the soil and pick out rocks and weeds. Level the soil with the back of the garden rake. Make sure that the soil drains away from buildings and toward drainage swales or storm drainage. Water well and let the soil settle for a few days.

Step 3

Clear away any weeds that sprout while the soil rested and re-level the soil with your rake.

Step 4

Cast the seed over the area with a hand or push spreader at the rate given in the directions; this will depend on the size of the seeds and may range between .25 and 2 pounds per 1,000 square feet of lawn.

Step 5

Rake lightly over the seed with a broom rake or the back of your garden rake just to mix the seed with the soil a bit. Mulch the seeded lawn with a 1/4-inch mulch of straw, sifted compost or Canadian sphagnum peat to retain soil warmth and moisture against chilly nights.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden spade
  • Cultivator or rotary tiller
  • Garden rake and broom rake
  • Grass seed and applicator
  • Water
  • Straw or Canadian sphagnum peat


  • Sustainable Gardening: How to Plant a New Lawn
  • North Carolina State Agriculture: Planting Cool and Warm Season Grasses
  • Michigan Department of Natural Resources: Grass Planting

Who Can Help

  • Ampac Seed Company: Seven Steps to a Perfect New Lawn
  • Donnan Landscape Service: Starting a Lawn
Keywords: grass planting, fall grass planting, cool season grasses, lawn grasses

About this Author

Chicago native Laura Reynolds has been writing for 40 years. She attended American University (D.C.), Northern Illinois University and University of Illinois Chicago and has a B.S. in communications (theater). Originally a secondary school communications and history teacher, she's written one book and edited several others. She has 30 years of experience as a local official, including service as a municipal judge.