Can you Plant Grass in the Winter? How to Dormant Seed

Overseeding during winter is a very common practice with gardeners. It is an easier way of filling bare spots, thickening grass and enhancing the overall appearance of al lawn. While it will not produce instant results, the seed will remain dormant due to the cold conditions but will germinate immediately the soil starts warming in spring.

Can you plant grass seed in the winter?

Yes, you can plant grass seed very well during winter season. This process is called dormant seeding and it gives you a head start for establishing a lawn when spring comes.

According to University of Minnesota Extension, dormant seeding works perfectly when the seen remains covered with several inches of snow throughout the cold season.

However, timing is very important before overseeding in winter. If done too early, your seeds will germinate before frost and the young seedlings will not make it in the real winter.

Cast your seed when the season is cold enough for germination but before the ground is frozen. This is usually anywhere from late October to Mid-November in most states.

In addition to that, choose a grass type that is well adapted to the conditions in your region. Cool season grass seeds are the most ideal for dormant seeding.

Best Grass to grow in the winter

Here is a breakdown of different types of grass that can be planted in winter season:

Kentucky bluegrass

Kentucky bluegrass is a type of grass that is classified as cool seasoned grass and it does very well in winterized regions. Bluegrass is classified as a perennial due to its ability to grow well during cool season.

Unlike other types of grass KBG tends to germinate slowly but spreads more faster on the field with the help of its rhizomes forming a thick turf which cannot be damaged easly.

KBG is usually dormant during summer due to its shallow roots hence cannot tolerate high heat and drought but it quickly recovers after irrigation. This grass requires high level of maintenance for best results to be seen.

Ryegrass species

Ryegrass is a type of grass that has spread all over the United States and classified as cool seasoned grass. Ryegrass usually germinates very fast during fall and spring seasons however during summer its usually dormant.

Traditionally the different varieties of ryegrass have very shallow roots which limits its drought and heat perseverance as compared to warm season grass which have deep root.

Good news is that Pennington-affiliated research and breeding program have upgraded perennial ryegrass with more varieties that can tolerate heat and drought conditions.

Velvet Bent grass

Velvet Bent is a type of grass that is lighter in color and is known to be the oldest grass commonly used in golf fields because of its fine lawns. Velvet bent grass requires a lot of fertilizer and water intake hence cannot tolerate warm or dry areas. It has been tested scientifically hence it’s one of the toughest grass that can persevere high winter season.

Improved Tall Fescue

Tall fescue is classified as cool seasoned grass. This type of grass can survive in various different types of climate be it hot, cold or even in dry. Its ability to resist diseases provides gardeners with a very beautiful lawn.

Tall fescue grass germinates fasters forming long extensive roots as compared to other cool seasoned grass hence can tolerate heat and drought.

During cool fall and springs tall fescue is usually at its peak and this is considered to be the best time for one to perform a lawn task. Improved tall fescue has the ability to repair itself due to its  clumps that spreads allover forming  tillers which are very easy to maintain incase a damage has occur in the lawn.

Chewing Red Grass

Chewing Red Grass is categorized as cool seasoned grass that is ever green during cold season. Chewing red grass can grow very well in infertile, acidic or sandy soil, can also be used to overseed other lawn. However it germinates soo slow to a span of 14 to 21 days.

Creeping Bent grass

Creeping bent grass is a fine textured grass that has very narrow leaves that are flat and is classified as cool seasoned grass that can tolerate very well in winter. This type of grass grows slowly forming very shallow roots that’s spreads by means of stolon’s forming a very beautiful thatch layer above the soil.

Creeping bent grass requires high level of maintenance and care hence water is needed frequently as well as fertilizer in big quantities.

Rough Meadow Grass

Rough Meadow is also known as Rough stalk Blue Grass or rough stalked meadow grass and is classified as annual and perennial. Rough meadow grass has stolon leaves which are purplish in color and are very appealing to the eyes. It is adapted to both wet and dry soil and for it to produce flowers a period of cold winter is required.

Annual Meadow Grass

Annual meadow grass is categorized as both biennial and perennial grass that has shallow roots commonly found in gardens and in lawns. It’s considered to be oldest type of grass in some countries and tend to change color during dry conditions.

Due to its sensitivity during dry seasons annual meadow grass is considered to be the best types of grass that can tolerate cold conditions of winter.

How to overseed a lawn in winter

Overseeding may be a challenge because most of the time competition emerges between the warm grass and the new winter grass that one want to establish. This can be ideally controlled by overseeding when the temperatures are lower, reducing fertilization and water intake.

Here is a simple guide of what you are required to do:

  1. Mow the existing lawn slightly lower than normal. Scalping will help good seed-to-soil contact and reduce competition to the newly planted grass.
  2. Scarification should also be done to remove thatch and loosen the soil for the new seeds.
  3. Select your best quality seed for winter depending on how you want your lawn to be and the climatic conditions of your region.
  4. It’s always good to spread your seeds in all directions for you to attain good results, over seed your lawn by use of a lawn spreader in different direction as this will reduce overlapping and skipping of your lawn.
  5. It is always good for you to add a starter fertilizer like Pennington Ultra green Starter Fertilizer 12-22-8, after you are done with overseeding your lawn and this is done before watering.
  6. Apply a thick layer of mulch as this will help in suppressing the weeds away and will retain moisture for long as well as heat which is essential for germination.
  7. We all know that water is an important aspect for growth. Always keep your lawn moisturized, one can decide to be watering the lawn twice or thrice day for the first five days for faster growth as this aids in formation of deep roots. Once you notice that your winter lawn is germinating, you may choose to reduce water intake.

Final thought:

Always remember to test the type of soil where you want to lay your lawn on, a good selection of type of seed will always yield to good results. You can thicken your lawn by practicing overseeding and for good results you must water your lawn daily for the survival of the young seeds.

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