Winter Dormant Seeding
November 4, 2021 | By: Randy Tischer
I love winter dormant seedings, probably because I am lazy and don’t feel like putting in all of the work necessary to plant my grass seed the right way – by scratching the soil with a rake or using a power seeder to do the job. The theory behind dormant seeding is to let Mother Nature do all the hard work of planting the grass seed into the ground for you!
What is dormant seeding?
Winter dormant seeding is the distribution of grass seeds during a time outside the regular growing season so that the seeds will be in place and ready to germinate when conditions allow.
Mother Nature will plant the grass seed for you during January and February with the snows, rains, freezing, and thawing of the ground. You’ll see the grass seed disappear before your eyes as it is pulled into the soil with dormant seeding!
When is the ideal time?
- You’ll need to wait until soil temperatures drop well below 50 degrees before you think of dormant seeding.
- Here in Ohio, this means you must wait until mid-December, as you can’t take a chance that the seed will start to germinate.
What is the major advantage?
Winter dormant seedings will emerge 15 days earlier than a conventional Spring seeding on average, which gives the dormant seed a major advantage in its race against the onslaught of Broadleaf weeds and grasses that usually compete with grass seed for survival in the Spring.
- Dormant seedings are most successful on level grades, not prone to soil erosion.
- We recommend a slightly higher seeding rate than usual, as seed mortality can be higher with dormant seeding.
- You will need to modify your pre-emergent program on all lawns that you have dormant seeded over the Winter.
- Dormant grass seed will conflict with typical applications of most pre-emergent herbicides; because they will kill grass seed just as they kill crabgrass, foxtail, and other weeds that germinate as soils warm up.
If there ever was a time that you could act just like Johnny Appleseed and just throw grass seed on the ground and walk away without any soil preparation, winter dormant seedings are it. Most years, we are amazed by the sea of green “fuzz” – little grass plants that germinate soon after the winter snow disappears. If you are a lazy turf grower, you will love Winter Dormant seedings!