Georgia has varying climates depending on location and the time of year, making it possible to plant either warm-season or cool-season grasses.
The key to having a lush, healthy lawn is planting your chosen grass type at the right time of the year.
The best time to plant warm-season grasses in Georgia is in the late spring or early summer months. For cool-season grasses, the ideal planting time for Georgia is in the fall. Consider the weather soil conditions, and establish a regular lawn care schedule for mowing and watering before picking a grass type.
Read on to learn more about the factors to consider when planting grass in Georgia and how to get the best results for your lawn.
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The Best Time to Plant Warm-Season Grasses in Georgia
The spring or summer months are ideal for planting new warm-season grass seeds in Georgia.
Planting in April, May, or June will allow your grass seeds enough time to germinate and form a healthy root system before colder weather settles in.
Warm-season grasses require warmth and humidity to germinate, so it is best to plant seeds when soil temperatures are consistently above 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Use a soil thermometer to monitor ground temperatures.
Planting warm-season grasses when the soil temperatures are too low means fewer grass seeds will germinate, and you will end up with a patchy lawn.
If there are bare spots in your lawn and you need to overseed, it is best done in late spring or early summer to allow for adequate germination and root growth before the winter months.
The Best Time to Plant Cool-Season Grasses in Georgia
The peak growing season for cool grass is between October and April, so the best time to plant this grass type is in early fall.
Planting cool-season grasses in the early fall months gives your grass enough time to develop strong roots and become well-established before going dormant in the summer months.
Cool-season grass types are frost-resistant and will do well in the warm summer months as long as they are established first.
Cool-weather grasses are usually grown in the coastal and mountain areas of Georgia.
Types of Grasses (And Their Differences)
The two types of grasses available are cool-season and warm-season grasses.
Cool-season grass varieties include:
- Kentucky Bluegrass
- Annual And Perennial Ryegrasses
- Tall Fescues
Common warm-season grasses are:
- St. Augustine grasses
Cool-weather grasses thrive in cooler summers and winters, while warm weather grasses do better in hot summers and mild winters.
The type of grass you choose will determine how much work it will take to maintain a healthy green lawn.
Warm-season grass will go dormant as soon as the soil temperature drops below 65° degrees Fahrenheit (18° C) in the fall months.
Cool-season grass may need to be reseeded in the fall, as the summer heat will cause the grass to go dormant or die.
Traits of Warm-Season Grasses
- Plant in late spring to early summer
- Peak growth in the summer
- Dormant in the winter
- Strong drought tolerance
- Thicker, coarser grass blades
- Typically mowed at a shorter height
Traits of Cool-Season Grasses
- Plant in late summer to early fall
- Peak growth in spring and fall
- Dormant in the summer
- Cold tolerant
- Longer, thinner blades
- Typically has a longer mowing height
United States Grass Climates
Another factor to consider when planting grass is the climate zone for your region.
The United States National Arboretum has created four different climate zones for growing turfgrass.
These four zones include cool and humid, cool and arid, warm and humid, and warm and arid.
Depending on where you live, your area may include more than one zone, known as a transitional zone.
If you live in one of the transitional zones, such as Georgia’s northern or middle regions, you may need to plant a mixture of cool-season and warm-season grasses to create an ideal lawn.
While cool-season grasses will do well in the northernmost areas of Georgia, most of the state is hospitable for growing warm-season grasses.
In addition to resisting hotter temperatures, most warm-season grasses are also very drought-tolerant.
Drought resistance is not usually a critical problem for most warm-season grass types since Georgia typically receives adequate rainfall, even during the summer.
Weather Considerations For Grass In Georgia
The weather in your area will also determine the best time to plant seeds or install sod.
Ideally, you want to plant your grass before it rains since the moisture will help your seeds germinate faster and help sod establish a robust root system in the soil.
However, if you receive too much rain after planting your grass, the grass seeds may be washed away, or your sod may become waterlogged.
Planting grass during drought conditions will make it more challenging to provide enough water for your grass to establish healthy roots.
The best time for sowing grass seeds is the day before or the same day as an average rain shower.
If heavy storms are predicted for your area, it is best to wait for a couple of days to allow time for any excess water to evaporate and to prevent your seeds from being washed away.
It is also important to avoid planting grass seeds during a sudden temperature change, such as during a cold snap or heatwave.
These sudden fluctuations in temperature will disrupt the natural germination process of your grass seeds and may cause permanent damage to sod that has not established itself yet.
How Long Does It Take for Grass Seeds to Germinate?
Under optimal weather and soil conditions, new grass seedlings will begin to sprout within 7-21 days.
The germination rate will vary according to the climate and soil conditions.
Frequent watering is vital during this time, as keeping the soil moist allows the seeds to germinate quickly.
For faster results, start with aerated soil and stay off the lawn as much as possible.
Aside from frequent watering sessions, adding fertilizer or top dressing of compost for additional nutrients is also a good idea.
A starter fertilizer rich in phosphorus will help the grass establish a robust root system quickly.
Once the grass sprouts, you may switch to a slow-release fertilizer rich in nitrogen to encourage healthy growth.
A layer of compost over the grass seeds will also add nutrients to the grass seeds while helping to prevent soil compaction.
Always perform a soil test before using fertilizer or compost to make sure you add the right amount of nutrients to your lawn.
For more seed-related info, check out our article on how much grass seed you need per square foot.
Best Grasses for Georgia
Since Georgia has climates that are well suited to both cool-season and warm-season grasses, the best grass type will depend on the environment in your region.
The best warm-season grass varieties for Georgia include:
- St. Augustine grasses
Bermuda grass is the most common grass type in Georgia since it is tolerant of higher temperatures and resistant to drought.
In the colder mountainous regions of Georgia, the best cool-season grasses are Kentucky bluegrass and fescue grass seed.
Fescues and fescue blends are typically very hardy grasses and tolerant of warmer temperatures.
Related: What grass to mix with Tall Fescue?
Georgia Soil Preparation
Preparing your soil before you start planting your new grass seed or installing sod is crucial for the long-term health of your lawn.
Soil test recommendations will determine if your soil lacks vital nutrients essential for healthy grass growth.
You may need to make soil amendments and add nitrogen, phosphorus, or potassium, depending on your lawn soil needs.
Soil testing is a crucial step in the grass planting process, as properly prepared soil will provide your new grass with vital nutrients.
It is also important to eliminate invasive weeds from your lawn before planting grass seed or installing sod.
Excess weeds will rob your new grass of the essential nutrients needed for faster growth and root development.
If you use a pre-emergent herbicide, be sure to follow instructions and use it for several weeks before planting grass seed.
Check out our picks for the best pre-emergent herbicide.
Planting too soon after applying a pre-emergent herbicide may cause inhibited germination of your grass seed, and you will need to reseed your lawn to fill in any bare spots.
Remove any debris from your lawn, such as leaves or twigs, so you have a clean area for planting your new lawn.
Core aeration is essential for loosening up compacted soil so your new grass will be able to receive all of the nutrients, oxygen, and moisture it needs for healthy growth.
The looser soil will also allow your new grass to develop a robust root system.
How To Get The Best Results When Overseeding
Once you have chosen the right grass seed for your region and properly prepared your soil, there are a few things to do to ensure success when you need to overseed your lawn.
For grasses such as tall fescues, it is common to overseed your lawn at least once per year to fill in any bare spots in your yard as the older grasses begin to die out.
Follow the seeding rates on your bag of grass seed to ensure you are planting the correct amount for a lush lawn.
Proper irrigation is crucial for seed germination and root development, so you will need to establish a regular watering schedule right after planting.
Your lawn needs to receive at least 1″ inch of water per week in normal conditions.
Aerate your lawn to ensure the top 4″ inches of soil are loosened enough for healthy root growth.
You will also need to determine if your lawn needs an extra boost of nutrients from fertilizer or compost.
Proper lawn care will enable you to have healthy green grass throughout the year.
Getting The Best Results From Sod Installation
Sod may be installed almost anytime during the growing season as long as it is properly watered and maintained.
Sod installation gives you a beautiful lawn with instant results, but it needs to be properly maintained to keep it lush and healthy.
Whether you choose to install the sod yourself or hire a professional lawn care company to do it, it is crucial to plant the sod within 48 hours of being harvested.
If the sod is not planted on time, there is a risk of the sod drying out very quickly, and it will be very difficult for the grass to recover.
The ground needs to be moist but not completely soaked when installing sod to ensure the roots quickly become established.
The soil surface also needs to be smooth and level for optimum sod installation.
The sod needs to make proper soil contact to establish a deep root system in the long term.
If you have clay or sandy soils, a centipede sod is the best choice for your lawn.
It is also important to wait at least two weeks after sod installation before mowing the grass for the first time.
This two-week period allows the roots to become well-attached to the soil and prevents any damage from occurring.
Always follow the one-third rule when mowing your lawn, and never cut more than one-third of the length of your grass blades.
Cutting your new sod lawn too short will cause severe damage to the grass, and it will be challenging to reverse the negative effects.
Grass that is cut too short has a harder time storing nutrients and moisture, and your grass may start to become discolored or die off.
Commonly Asked Questions
Is March too early to plant grass seed?
Because of the colder temperatures, March is usually too early to plant grass seeds in almost any region.
Average temperatures should reach at least 80° degrees Fahrenheit (27° C) consistently to allow the soil to be warm enough for the new grass seeds to germinate.
If daytime temperatures are below 60° degrees Fahrenheit (16° C), the soil will only be close to 50° degrees Fahrenheit (10° C), which is too cold for grass seeds to germinate properly.
In some areas, it is also dangerous to plant grass seeds too early because of the risk of frost.
It is better to wait until the last frost of the winter season before you consider prepping your lawn for new grass seed.
Which grass stays green all year in Georgia?
Fescue grass is a highly adaptable cool-season grass, and it will thrive well in cooler temperatures and partial sunlight.
For fescue grasses to stay green all year, you will need to establish a regular lawn care routine, which involves regular watering, mowing, and fertilization.
Despite how well you take care of your fescue grass, expect to reseed your lawn after some of the grass dies off in hot summer temperatures.
What grass grows best in the shade in Georgia?
In Georgia’s northern and middle regions, a tall fescue grass type will be the most resilient in shady lawns.
St. Augustine is the best type of grass for partial sunlight conditions for the warmer southern areas.