Should you plant grass seed in the fall? Experts settle the debate

The question of the moment has no definitive answer – here, the experts decode the best solution for your yard

A view of the garden, lawn and herbaceous border.
(Image credit: Polly Eltes)

If you've ever wondered whether you should plant grass seed in the fall, you may know there is no easy answer to the question. 

Unlike the process of knowing how to plant grass seeds, knowing the best time to do so is slightly more complicated. Although many suggest that you can sow grass seed at any point of the year, the advice is conflicting. And at this time, when it is especially important to master a lawn care routine (to prepare your yard for the winter ahead), the timing is key. 

If you've picked up the best fast-growing grass seeds you can find, it is only inevitable that you will want to use them to their full potential. But what do you need to know before planting? While there is no definitive solution, you can find the expert advice that is best for your lawn below.

Should you plant grass seed in the fall? 

'There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best time to plant grass seed will vary depending on your climate and soil type,' says Violet Joy, the founder of Greeny Thumbs.  

Flower and plant beds. Lawn, table and benches.

(Image credit: Future)

The expert suggests that fall is a good time to sow grass seed because the cooler temperatures will help the seeds germinate and grow. 'In climates that have a long fall, grass seeds can be planted in October and will germinate in cooler temperatures,' she says. 

Kevi Tara, a garden expert from LeafNJoy, agrees. He, too, explains that sowing grass seed in fall can have its benefits – most especially because they have the opportunity to develop a strong root system before the new growing season starts.

'This means that the grass will be stronger and able to tolerate environmental stressors much better,' he explains. 'Fall is also when the soil is at its best – weed-free, warm, moist, with plenty of nutrients and gentle light.'

Lirodendron tulipifera tulip tree in autumn with curved tree seat

(Image credit: Leigh Clapp)

However, Carl Anderson, an expert from Sweet New Earth, warns that (in some cases) seeding in fall will harm rather than hinder your yard. The key, according to the expert, is in your timing. 

'You should not plant grass seed in the fall unless it's late September or early October,' Carl suggests. Instead, if you want to make your lawn green and thick, you should plant your grass seed in the spring, when the soil is warm, and there is more moisture.  

'If you try to sow grass seed in November, it will likely not germinate because the ground will be too cold and wet,' he says. 'Shorter days and colder temps really delay or stop the ability of grass seed to germinate. I wouldn't risk it past the second week of October.'

Is it worth putting grass seed down in October?

It depends, but some garden experts agree that this is a good idea, but if it's after the second week in October, it may be better to wait until spring. 

'September is usually the best month to choose for sowing grass seeds, but they can be successfully planted up to the middle of October,' says Kevi Tara, a garden expert from LeafNJoy. 'If the winters are milder at your location, grass seeds can even be sown in November. However, this is usually not advisable.'

'If the grass seeds have just sprouted and a frost wave comes around, they might wither and die off. On the other hand, if you have missed the perfect sowing season and November is all you've got, then go for it. Wait until the temperatures are cold enough and plant your seeds. The cold temperatures will keep the seeds dormant until spring when they should start sprouting.'

If you act quickly and avoid overseeding a lawn in the fall, your lawn will be in the best condition possible next spring. We recommend acting in the next few days because, as the experts suggest – when it comes to seeding – the earlier, the better. 

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.