Soil endures significant environmental stresses: periods of heavy rain, punctuated by prolonged dry spells, among other fluctuations that generate plenty of energy within the turf. One of the effects is a rising risk of fungal diseases descending on your lawn.
To combat that threat, between now and Labor Day weekend is the perfect time to begin your seeding project. Note: a 21-day growth period from germination to full growth is normal, after which you can mow for the first time.
Fall is the preferred time because of fewer pressures on the seed and an optimal growing climate. As soil temperatures decrease, dormant weed seeds in the soil are not able to germinate, minimizing competition for space, nutrients, and moisture for the seed to establish properly and establish healthy root systems.
With cooler temperatures, the soil also retains moisture for a longer duration, decreasing your time and water demands. Don’t overwater—which can result in drowning or washing the seed away—but instead go for short, frequent watering to keep the top layers of soil moist.
In the end—and going back to the beginning of this process—the success of seeding depends on your commitment to carefully monitoring and caring for your lawn.
This appeared as an "Ask the Plant Expert" advertorial in the August 17, 2016 edition of the Wednesday Journal of Oak Park & River Forest, Forest Park Review and Riverside-Brookfield Landmark.