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Give Your Lawn a Head Start This Spring Through Dormant Seeding
What is Dormant Seeding?Dormant seeding is accomplished by sowing grass seeds over bare, thinning areas of your lawn while the grass is dormant. This can occur before or after the ground is frozen, as long as temperatures are low enough to prevent the seed from germinating until the following spring. Depending on your area of the country, this could be anytime from November to February. While generally not as successful as early fall or spring planting, dormant seeding has a few unique advantages of its own that make it something worth considering.
Benefits of Dormant SeedingSeed sown in the late fall and winter dormancy months will have a head start come spring. In fact, dormant seeding can produce grass a half month sooner than seeding in the springtime. While this head start might not seem significant, it can play an important role in suppressing weeds. Dormant seeding is also ideal for areas where irrigation is limited. By allowing the seed to overwinter in the soil, all the necessary moisture for germinating is present once temperatures begin to warm up and snow starts to melt. Dormant seeding also solves the problem of sowing grass seed in spring mud.
Tips for Dormant SeedingApart from the time of the year, the dormant seeding process is not much different than conventional overseeding methods. Before sowing, it’s important to select the appropriate high-quality seed blend. Both warm-season and cool-season grass species can be dormant seeded, although warm-season grasses won’t germinate until late spring or early summer. Prepare the soil by raking the bare and thin spots to establish proper seed-to-soil contact. The freezing process will also help the seed-to-soil contact by cracking and heaving the soil. For best results, try to time dormant seeding prior to snowfall. Snowfall provides excellent cover for the seeds and protects them from birds, wind or washing away. Don’t sow seed directly on top of snow.
RisksWhile dormant seeding has some unique benefits, it also carries some unique risks. An early spring warm-up followed by a hard freeze could kill the seedlings. Seeds also risk being washed away if snowmelt is excessive in the spring. Dormant seeding should not be implemented on sloped areas that are prone to erosion.
Even though dormant seeding is not the most preferred seeding method, when conditions are right it can achieve some great results come spring. It comes with some risk, but when working with Mother Nature, doesn’t everything?