What is Dormant Seeding?
Dormant seeding is the collective term for overseeding lawns in late fall and winter, when soil temperatures are too cold to allow grass seed to germinate. In the mid-west, the opportunity for dormant seeding is best from mid-November through early March, while soil temperatures remain below 50 degrees.
Why Should I Be Dormant Seeding My Lawn?
When you have missed the fall overseeding window, dormant seeding helps to eliminate bare spots and thickens turf to fight spring weed pressure. Research shows winter dormant overseeding outperforms spring overseeding when using cool-season grasses. Turf-type tall fescue, bluegrass, and ryegrass germinate sooner in cold soils and will have more time to develop than seed sown in spring. Grass seed sown over densely shaded areas, specifically under trees, will gain an advantage allowing emerging grass plants to establish before spring foliage arrives.
What is Snow Seeding?
Snow seeding is another form of dormant seeding. It simply requires a light snowfall (up to an inch) that still allows bare spots to be seen. Spread seed by hand on areas that need thickening up. As the snow melts, it brings the seed into good contact with the soil.
What is Frost Seeding?
Frost seeding is a form of dormant seeding, overseeding moist soil before freezing weather. The natural freeze and thaw cycle of freezing soils will create small cracks or pockets, perfect for catching and holding grass seed. As the soil dries, the pockets collapse and cover the seed. This same freeze and thaw cycle are also Mother Nature’s natural soil aeration process.
When is the Best Time to Dormant Seed My Lawn?
Dormant seeding is the most successful when applied after the last tree leaves have fallen and have been removed. Removing yard debris allows for better seed to soil contact. Dormant seeding should take place early enough in winter to avoid the muddy conditions from spring thaw and rains. Once you develop a good dormant seeding plan, you will be surprised at the positive results.
What is the Best Grass Seed for Dormant Seeding?
Cool-season grasses such as bluegrass, turf-type tall fescue, and perennial rye grass are best for dormant seeding. Cool-season grass seed blends and mixes will perform perfectly for dormant seeding. Cool-season grasses like turf-type tall fescue and perennial rye sown over cold winter soils will germinate sooner than the same grass seed sown in April.
Uncle’s Tip: When dormant overseeding and spot repair, use the recommended bare soil seeding rates for best results. A little extra seed never hurts and will allow for any loss due to birds or weather extremes. Don’t worry, the cold winter weather will not harm dormant grass seeds.
How to Prevent Crabgrass after Dormant Seeding?
Grass Pad recommends using Seed Safe when dormant seeding to prevent annual grassy weeds like crabgrass and foxtail. Seed Safe is a unique combination of a seed safe crabgrass herbicide and slow release fertilizer to promote seed establishment.
BE AWARE! Seed Safe works very well, however the herbicide contained in Seed Safe has a short residual in the soil. For best results, use a spring application of Seed Safe at Tax Day and a follow-up application of our longer-lasting PREVENT around Mother’s Day to extend summer crabgrass control.
See Related: Tips on Spring Overseeding