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Fall can be one of the very best times of year to hydroseed, because grass seeds generally like lots of water and mild temperatures to germinate and establish well — something fall in many climates typically has in spades.
However, there are a few important things to watch for when planning on hydroseeding in the fall.
How to Hydroseed in the Fall
Watch the Weather
Most grass seeds are technically capable of germination in temperatures as low as 48 degrees fahrenheit. However, when soil temperatures drop below 55 degrees fahrenheit, germination will generally be much slower. As a result, you’ll want to watch temperatures closely, especially overnight lows, to see when the best window of time will be to hydroseed. For example, if there’s a predicted spell of mild nights, you can arrange to have hydroseeding done during those days to give your seed the best possible start.
Can You Plant Grass Seed Before a Frost?
In extreme cases, frost and cold can kill seeds entirely, so the best time to hydroseed in the fall is at least 45 days before the first expected frost. This allows the grass seedlings to grow to a height of 2” before being exposed to frost, at which point they will be strong enough to survive frost.
If you’ve already hydroseeded and a frost comes sooner than expected, the colder temperatures may simply slow down growth of your seed.
Choose Seed Types Thoughtfully
Because frosts and cold temperatures can be unexpected, when planning fall hydroseeding, choosing a hearty seed variety that can withstand lower temperatures can help ensure success. Cool season grasses, like Tall Fescue and Fine Fescue generally hold up well under colder temperatures, and make a great choice for hydroseeding in the fall as a result.
If you’re using a seed mix to hydroseed, make sure it’s at least partly made up of heartier grass seed varieties to help the lawn establish well even when temperatures are dropping.
Use a Mulch Mix
Adding a mulch or fiber mulch mix to grass seeds for hydroseeding in the fall can also help protect vulnerable seeds from dropping temperatures. As long as you can be sure your mulch will stay in place relatively well — the area isn’t prone to too much erosion for example, you can hydroseed in lower temperatures using this method and expect great results.
How Late into the Fall Can I Hydroseed?
Depending on the climate, you can often confidently hydroseed into early November — note however, that this depends heavily on overnight lows, when the first frost is expected, and when it has historically arrived.
A hard frost on newly-seeded grass can significantly stunt grass growth, and in some cases, frost can kill the seedlings entirely. This is why it’s important to be mindful of the overnight lows when hydroseeding in the fall, because if a frost is predicted, you’ll likely want to wait until the spring before hydroseeding to prevent crop loss.
Benefits of Hydroseeding in the Fall
On top of fall providing cool and wet weather to assist with seed germination, hydroseeding in the fall can mean fewer weeds. Since most weeds like hot and dry weather, they are less likely to germinate in the fall, making fall an ideal time for growing a lush, weed-free lawn.
Fall hydroseeding also helps save on watering costs, since fall is often a rainier time of year. This can translate into big savings, especially if you have a large area to hydroseed, or an area that isn’t well irrigated, you may especially want to consider fall hydroseeding.
If you’re planting cover crops for the winter, fall hydroseeding can be a great choice. Hydroseeding can speed up the cover crop application process which helps protect soil from erosion and degradation.
For more information on hydroseeding in the fall, or to learn more about how Finn products can help with the process, contact us today.
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