Dormant Seeding

 
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Your lawn may not be ready for the mower, but seeding the lawn now will help your lawn get a leg up on spring growth. Dormant seeding is the practice of sowing grass in the winter months when grass seeds are inactive. Broadcasting grass seed over bare or patchy areas between snowfalls gives seeds an opportunity to anchor in the soil before germinating. Subsequent periods of freezing and thawing will help the process along, creating cracks and crevices in which seeds may settle before eventually being covered over by shifting soil.  Dormant seeding may take place anytime during the months of November through February with germination success rates of anywhere between 50-75%.  

If planning to seed your lawn before the final thaw, follow these simple rules to ensure the grass will be greener on your side of the fence:

  • Seeds must make direct contact with bare soil.
  • Dormant seeding is most successful in soil that is loose or has been previously tilled.
  • Rake the area before seeding to agitate the soil and ensure it is free of debris.
  • Follow seed provider guidelines for broadcast coverage.  Too much seed can be as detrimental as under-seeding.
  • Once seeding is complete, lightly rake the surface to cover seeds.
  • Keep off the lawn and allow the weather to do your dirty work.  The cycle of freezing and thawing in the coming weeks will help the seeds set and any snowfall will result in even soil compressing, which will aid in germination.
  • Hold off on the use of any crabgrass pre-emergent until after germination has set in.
 
Matthew Dammann