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Turfgrass Establishment

Some turfgrasses are established from seed, others, from sod, plugs or harvested segments of above- or below-ground runners referred to as sprigs. Regardless of the method of establishment, site preparation, timing and post-planting care usually determine whether turfgrasses survive.

Since bluegrasses, fescues and ryegrasses grow best from 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, late August to mid-October is an ideal time to plant seed of these cool-season turfgrasses. Although wet, rainy weather may make soil preparation difficult, fescues and ryegrasses are also seeded in late winter or early spring. Kentucky bluegrass seed germinates slowly compared to fescues and ryegrasses, and poorly developed seedlings resulting from spring seeding may be killed by hot, dry weather in summer.

Temperatures from 80 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit promote the growth of bermudagrass, centipedegrass, St. Augustinegrass and Zoysia. Seed, plugs or sprigs of these warm-season species should be planted between May 1 and June 30. Sod of cool- or warm-season turgrasses can be installed any time of year, as long as the planting bed is not frozen. However, several weeks or months may be required before a newly sodded turf can withstand traffic.

The following publications provide information on topics related to turfgrass establishment:

(These publications are PDF files. To read, download and print these files, you must have Acrobat Reader® installed on your computer. Click here for a FREE copy of the Reader.)

  • Preparing to Plant (W160-A) — provides information on how to prepare soils for planting.

  • Seeding (W160-B) — provides information on seeding as a method for establishing turfgrass.

  • Sodding and Plugging (W160-C) — provides information on sodding and plugging as methods for establishing turfgrass.

  • Sprigging (W160-D) — provides another method for establishing turfgrass.

  • Turfgrass Seed (W160-E) — provides information about turfgrass seeds, seed blends and seed mixtures.

  • When to Plant Turfgrasses (W160-F) — provides information on the timing of turfgrass establishment.