What is Dormant Seeding?

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Dormant Seeding. Planting Seed during the Winter Months.

Have you heard the term dormant lawn seeding?  It refers to the practice of seeding a lawn late in the year so that the seed actually sits in place throughout the winter and then germinates early in the following spring. Germination works reasonably well because melting snow will soak the grain, and warming temperatures will stimulate it. Then typical spring rains will promote continuing growth and rooting, and all this will get you a very early spring growth of your lawn. 

The ideal scenario is to have your seed dispersed all over your yard and scratched in before the first freeze, which occurs in the ground. If a covering of snow follows immediately, it creates the perfect scenario to insulate the seed against winter. If you can avoid any heavy foot traffic once you’ve seeded the yard, this will be much better for the seed.

You may not be able to control traffic from animals and birds.  You may also run into strong winds and heavy rain, which can reduce the volume of germination you get in spring. A quick covering of snow will be the best possible case for your newly dispersed seed, and that’s always when you will get the highest volume of germination the following spring.

However, you have to be sure that the ground is not frozen because that will interfere with the critical seed-to-soil contact you need. The best way to ensure seed-to-soil contact is to throw down your seed and then use a metal rake for scratching in the whole area, followed by a light watering that will help pack everything in.

Benefits of dormant seeding

Dormant seeding in the wintertime has its benefits.  To maximize these benefits, you need to be sure that your seed has been scratched-in so that you have good seed-to-soil contact.  You will want to minimize any traffic on the site afterward. Suppose there is immediate snow covering after you’ve seeded your yard. In that case, the snow will serve as protection against foot traffic, birds, animal traffic, and even wind and rain.

The first benefit you will realize from dormant seeding is that you can do all your soil preparation during your leisure time early in winter. There is no rush whatsoever to get work done as you do in the spring when there are a thousand other tasks. By doing your seeding in early winter, you won’t have to plan for it during summer or fall, when you might have several different activities scheduled.

Turf, which has been dormant-seeded in the late fall or early winter, grows exceptionally well, and fills in nicely when the cool spring weather arrives. This can exclude a general invasion by undesirable weeds and other plants that might otherwise take over your lawn. By dormant-seeding late in the year, you’ll give your grass much more time to develop hardiness than you would have in the springtime.

Spring sometimes gives way to summer very quickly, and many kinds of grass have difficulty tolerating the stress of summer heat and humidity. You’ll also find that you don’t need to water your lawn nearly as much with dormant seeding. You probably won’t have to water it at all if you get a timely snowfall after seeding. When you plant a seed in the spring, you’ll generally have to wait for a rainy period before you see any real results with your lawn, but that’s not the case with dormant seeding. 

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