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Brandon Rushing


The Best Time to Seed and Fertilize Your Lawn in Virginia

Get it right and your lawn will be healthy, green and lush…

A question we’re often asked is, “When is the best time to seed and fertilize my lawn?”.  To most people, it seems more natural to plant seed and fertilize in the spring, since that’s the season most plants typically start their growing cycle. April showers bring May flowers, right?

If you were talking about May flowers you’d be right… but turf grass is different. In Virginia, feeding and seeding your lawn in the fall offers several benefits, so if you want a lawn that’s lush, green and beautiful this spring, read on!

Ideal growing conditions 

For a lot of people, fall is their favorite season. It’s still warm enough to be comfortable, and cool enough to help us feel energized. Well, your grass feels the same way! 

Fall provides the ideal environment for grass seed germination and establishment. The soil is still warm from the summer months, which encourages seed growth, while cooler air temperatures reduce the stress on young seedlings. 

By seeding in the fall, new grassroots have time to develop a strong root system before winter sets in. This gives your lawn a head start in the spring and the strength it needs to survive throughout the hot summer months.

When feeding your lawn in the fall, choose a fertilizer specifically formulated for fall application. These fertilizers typically have a higher potassium content, which promotes root growth and cold tolerance.

Weed control

If you have bare patches or thin areas in your lawn, weeds can take over. Fall seeding helps fill in those spaces, crowding out the weeds. 

Many cool-season weeds, such as crabgrass, are not as robust in the fall. Seeding during this time lets your grass become established without having to compete with these unwanted plants.

Applying the appropriate nutrients at the same time helps strengthen the grass and prepare it for the upcoming winter and subsequent growing season. Fall is a good time to apply weed control, too. Just like your turf grass, weeds are absorbing as much energy as possible in the fall so they can emerge strong and healthy in the spring. 

Stress protection 

Because lawns in Northern Virginia are typically a blend of cool-season grasses, they undergo a lot of stress during the hot and dry summer months. Seeding in the fall helps repair any damage and rejuvenate the lawn, allowing it to recover quickly so it looks its best in the following spring.

Fall is also a good time to fertilize to build strong, deep roots before the onset of winter, resulting in a healthy and robust lawn in the spring.

For best results, follow these recommendations

There are specific lawn care practices you should follow after seeding and fertilizing your lawn in the fall to ensure the best results. 

  • Proper watering is crucial for seed germination and establishment. Keep the soil consistently moist, but avoid overwatering, as it can lead to diseases. Water lightly and frequently to keep the top inch of soil moist until the grass seedlings are well-established.
  • You can begin mowing once the new grass reaches a height of around 3 inches. Set your mower blades to a higher setting to avoid cutting the grass too short and stressing the young seedlings. As the grass matures, you can gradually lower the mowing height.
  • Minimize foot traffic and any heavy use of the newly seeded areas to allow the grass to establish strong roots. Stepping or playing on the grass too soon can damage the delicate blades.
  • It's essential to control weeds to keep them from competing with the new grass. However, avoid using herbicides until the new grass has established and been mowed a few times. Consult with a lawn care professional or follow the instructions on the herbicide label for the appropriate timing.
  • Depending on the type of fertilizer you used during seeding, you may need to apply additional fertilizer in late fall or early winter. This "winterizing" fertilizer helps provide essential nutrients to the grass during the dormant period and promotes healthy growth in the spring. 
  • Clear away fallen leaves and other debris during the fall. A thick layer of leaves can smother the new grass. 
  • Fall is also a good time to aerate your lawn. Aeration breaks up compacted soil so air, water and nutrients can reach the roots, making your lawn thick and lush.

Choose a lawn care program that includes fall recovery

Specific lawn care practices can vary depending on the type of grass you have, your soil’s composition and the specific conditions in your area. If having a great lawn is important to you, and you don’t have the time or experience to care for it properly, consider signing up for a comprehensive lawn care program.

At Brandon Rushing, our lawn care program includes fall lawn recovery, consisting of core aeration, seeding, fertilizing and fall leaf removal. We also include soil testing and analysis (with recommendations), weekly mowing, trimming & edging and six additional lawn treatments (fertilizer, weed control, lime & insect control) in the core program.

Getting started is easy… book a consultation directly on one of our team members’ calendars. 

Together, we’ll get your lawn to look as good — or better — than the neighborhood golf course!

Written by Brandon Rushing, Founder & President

Posted on: August 13th, 2023