During the cold months of winter, the natural world pauses. It is a time to recover from the full bloom of summer while preparing for the rapid growth of spring. For our lawn eco-systems, it is also a season of rest, and an ideal time for us to follow nature’s lead by working with our lawns to help them recover and recuperate. One of the best ways to help repair and even thicken your lawn is by dormant seeding.
Dormant seeding is kind of like preloading your lawn. You could think of it as pre-seeding. Applying seed during the colder months allows that seed to wait out the winter in place without germinating. This gives your lawn and seeds the opportunity to get to work immediately when the ground begins to thaw. Once the snow melts, the moisture will help the seed to take root in the earliest moments of spring. This gives your grass a head start, and your lawn a longer growing season.
Dormant seeding is ideal for cooler climates, this includes most Mid and Northern states. If the ground freezes and snow falls in your area, then your lawn is likely a perfect candidate for dormant seeding. Once temperatures drop below 40°F, it’s a good time to start. In most of these cool climate areas, that means the ideal time falls between late October and Mid-November. It is best to seed when temperatures are low enough to prevent germination, but early enough to avoid snow or ice covering. It’s ok if there is some moisture on the ground, or if your seed gets wet, but warm soil temperatures over long periods of time will trigger germination, so it’s best to start seeding after temperatures drop for the winter.
It is as simple as throwing seed on the ground. However, it is important that the seeds make contact with the soil, so you’ll want to prepare your lawn by cutting grass to the optimal short length (usually 2”) at the end of your growing season. Once your lawn is the right length, spread seed generously, the same way that you would any other time of the year.
Learn more about preparing your lawn for winter: Fall Lawn Care
Once grass seed is spread evenly throughout your lawn, there is nothing left to do but sit back, rest, and let winter work for you and your lawn. If possible, its best to leave snow covering in place so that the weight of the snow can help drive the fresh grass seed into the soil. Also, the added moisture will help with germination next spring.