Is there anything that you don’t love about winters? As you reminisce about the good things in life with a slow sip in the cup of hot cocoa beside the crackling fire, you feel thankful. But the warm cozy nights will soon turn into balmy spring evenings. And you need to ask yourself the vital question; will my lawns green up beautifully? They can if you have already done your bit with dormant grass seeding as part of winter lawn care.
What is dormant seeding?
As lawn care service providers, we often must explain what exactly dormant grass seeding is. This is a process or practice of sowing seeds during the winter months. In mid-west states like Iowa, dormant seeding is common and is best carried out between November and March. The temperature is normally below 50 degrees which creates an ideal condition for sowing the seeds.
The idea behind winter seeding in lawns is that seeds will mainly remain ‘dormant’ due to cold soil conditions but will germinate once the soil warms up. You save a lot of time as you don’t have to prepare the soil. Grass seed germination in winter happens quickly as the soil is naturally cold and wet during winter months. Naturally, your turf gets a head start in spring with a bit of an extra effort.
1. How does dormant seeding work best for your lawns?
When you want to reseed bare patches or thicken your turf for spring, choose the best dormant grass seed for lawns. This practice is particularly helpful if you have missed the overseeding window during fall. As your lawn thickens, you reduce the chances of weeds with the advent of spring.
Studies have proved that winter dormant grass seeding works better than spring overseeding, especially if you use seeds for cool-season grasses. Tall fescue, ryegrass, and bluegrass germinate better in colder soils. They get more time to develop when they are sown during winter months.
2. What is the best time for dormant grass seeding?
Choose your time carefully. If you spread the seeds too early, they may germinate in winter itself and will not survive the snow. Seeds should be scattered when the ground is cold enough for germination to be perfectly timed during spring.
Broadcasting grass seeds work better on bare patches than scattered seeds. Good seed to soil contact leads to perfect germination. Raking the soil is a must pre-condition for dormant seeding.
3. What should you select: frost or snow seeding?
Frost seeding normally happens when the soil is moist just before freezing weather. A freezing atmosphere followed by a period of thaw creates small pockets or cracks on the ground. These are perfect for catching and keeping the seeds. As the soil dries up, soil pocket collapses and covers the seeds. It is a natural aeration process and helps in the germination process.
Another type of dormant seeding is snow seeding. You just need one inch of snowfall where you can still see the bare spots. Spread the seeds by hand on places where you want to see a thickened turf. Once the snow melts, the seeds come in direct contact with soil.
4. Why do you need to select your seeds carefully?
Select a good mix of seeds for your lawns. Think of your site, its conditions and how you intend to maintain the site once the seeds are sowed. A normal mix of seeds will include fine fescue and a little bit of perennial ryegrass. You need 3 to 4 pounds of this seed mix for 1,000 square feet. You can always create your own mix with your favorite turf grass.
5. What should you do after dormant seeding?
After dormant seeding, do not abandon the space. You should water the area thoroughly until next spring. There should be at least 0.05 to 0.10 inches of water. The weather will be at your favor as the days are normally moist. Damp soil is adequate, but do not allow the place to be soggy. Be careful once the weather turns warmer. As the turf starts getting drier, water the area lightly.
You can expect a nice lush surprise next spring. But the success of dormant grass seeding will depend on winter conditions. A good snowfall is a must as it covers the area allowing the seeds to germinate properly. Assess your turf to know if it needs additional seeding. If the newly seeded area looks thin, wait for some time. Often the seeds sprout a little late, so allow some time and don’t destroy the good work. You will know if your turf needs additional reseeding once the time period is over.
Unsure how to treat your lawns in winter? We will chalk out a plan for the best winter lawn treatment for your turf. We offer the best winter lawn care services in Iowa. Trust us for a greener and healthier turf.