For Release March 11, 2003

Time To Make Grass Reseeding Plans

by Chuck Otte, Geary County Extension Agent

With spring officially just around the corner, pay no attention to the weather, it is time to start making plans if you need to reseed your yard. Late winter or early spring is the time that we often will reseed or overseed yards. In the past we have always considered grass seeding to mean tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, occasionally ryegrass and rarely buffalograss. Well, we have some new players in the home lawn scene and we need to talk about some of these.

First we need to split the grasses into two groups, the cool season grasses and the warm season grasses. The cool season grasses include our traditional tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass. The preferred planting time for these grasses is September or March and early April. You want to get them planted early enough in the spring so they can become well established before hot summer weather hits.

These grasses are called cool season grasses because they grow best in the cooler weather of spring and fall. They produce large quantities of leaf material in the spring, and if not mowed, they would head out in May and set seed in June. Following this, they go into various degrees of summer dormancy depending on temperature and rainfall. The seed from these varieties can germinate very well in cool soil conditions. If you are wanting to plant a cool season lawn this spring, get your seed purchased and get ready to plant just as soon as the soil is a little warmer and dry enough to work. Stop by the Geary County K-State Research and Extension office for brochures giving detailed information and variety selections.

Warm season grasses are quite different than cool season grasses. Basically they start growing later in the spring, they go dormant earlier in the fall and they seldom go dormant in the summer. They prefer hotter sunnier conditions and donít produce seed heads until mid or late summer. Likewise, they also need to be planted in warmer soil. The warm season grasses normally used in lawns include buffalograss, Bermudagrass and zoysia.

Until recently, only buffalograss could be started from seed. Bermudagrass seed was available, but the plants wouldnít become well enough established before fall and they would usually winterkill. Zoysia seed was also available but was seldom true to type. Therefore Bermudagrass and zoysia were usually started from sod, sprigs or plugs.

There are some newer zoysia seeded varieties available, but they are just now being challenged by hard enough winters to see how they are going to hold up under Kansas conditions. I would wait a couple more years before trying a seeded zoysia lawn. Buffalograss seed is readily available. It isnít cheap and in rainy years buffalograss lawns will be invaded by lots of weeds. But it is still an option.

The exciting news is that we now have two Bermudagrass varieties that can be seeded successfully. The two varieties to consider are Yukon and Riviera. Riviera probably has a slight edge on quality, but Yukon has a slight edge on winter hardiness. It may be a challenge to find the seed of either of these and they will cost about $12 to $15 a pound. You will need one to two pounds of seed per 1,000 square feet. This makes them more expensive than even the best tall fescue varieties. Planting time is also going to be different, mid-May to early June. If you are interested in trying a warm season lawn, give me a call so I can give you more information and help you locate seed.


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