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The What, Why and How of Dormant Seeding

It’s December, and you may have just realized that in the hecticness of the fall season, you missed the recommended renovation window for your turfgrass. While September and October are the optimal times for fall seeding, dormant seeding can still help establish turfgrass in March or April when competition from broadleaf weeds and pre-emergent herbicides can make spring planting of tall fescue or Kentucky bluegrass nearly impossible. If you have never done a dormant seeding or even heard of the process, read on to find out what you need to know to be successful this winter season.

What is dormant seeding?

Dormant seeding is the process of applying seed during the winter months to prepare it to start growing next spring. The best place to do this is on bare soil areas or thinned grass, so there is good seed-to-soil contact. If the lawn is still thick and lush, it won’t be as successful. It needs to be done when the ground is not frozen, but cold enough so that germination won’t occur until the soil begins to warm come spring.

Why should I go through this process?

Dormant seeding can help give lawns a jumpstart in the spring. If fall seeding was missed or the lawn was neglected over the summer, this can help prepare for green grass. It may help to fill in bare spots or thicken turf to fight off invading weeds.

How do I do it?

The process of dormant seeding is the same as the seeding process other times of the year, with the exception of knowing your seed won’t germinate for a few months.

Step 1. Choose seed. You want to choose seed that is well adapted to the site and maintenance level you are willing to give it. Most often, dormant seeding is done with tall fescue or Kentucky bluegrass.

Step 2. Establish good seed-to-soil contact. As with the fall or spring seeding seasons, ensuring seed-to-soil contact will help you succeed. You can do this by loosening the soil with a rake, dethatching, aerating or verticutting, depending on the amount of existing turfgrass, thatch or dirt you’re working with.

Step 3. Water. After you’ve sown the seeds, water the area thoroughly. Be sure the soil is damp but not oversaturated. If the day is warm and sunny, you may need to water a little more to prevent the soil from drying out too much.

If you’ve offered dormant seeding as a service to your customers in the past, what success have you seen? Do you have tips for other landscape professionals? Share in the comments below.

TAGS: Seeding, Dormant Seeding, Seed, Turf