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Extension > Local Extension Offices > McLeod > County Agriculture Educator > Articles > Dormant seeding your lawn in November

Dormant seeding your lawn in November

Source: Karen Johnson, University of Minnesota Extension

Not happy with the way your lawn currently looks? Did you miss the optimal lawn seeding window of mid-August to mid-September? No worries, there is still time to consider dormant seeding your lawn in mid-to end of November.

According to an article published by University of Minnesota Extension Turf Extension Educator, Sam Bauer, dormant seeding is an effective way to introduce new species and /or varieties of turf into your existing lawn. This practice involves seeding when temperatures are too low for the seed to germinate prior to winter. Germination prior to winter is bad and seedlings will generally die if they haven’t matured. Sometimes it is a bit of a waiting game at this time of year. The trick is to find the time when soils are unfrozen so that seed can be worked in slightly, yet air temperatures must be cold enough so the seed won’t germinate. Wait for high daytime temperatures of 35-40 degrees before seeding.

Is there an advantage to dormant seeding versus spring seeding? Yes and no. A dormant seeded lawn could mature as much as one month faster in the spring than a spring seeded lawn. This is because some of the germination process actually starts prior to winter in a dormant seed situation, although the shoots still haven’t emerged from the seed. When temperatures are adequate in the spring, complete germination occurs. In this case the seed actually dictates when temperatures are warm enough to grow. Just like late-fall, temperatures and weather patterns can be unpredictable in the spring. For this reason, the best timing for spring seeding is difficult to predict, which can delay the timing to actually sow seed. Still, there are some negative aspects of dormant seeding to consider. First, because of the spring temperature fluctuations, it is possible to have good seedling establishment initially, but a cold spell during this time will injure these seedlings. Also, there is a greater potential for seed loss over the winter due to erosion and water movement, predation, and decay. These positive and negative aspects should always be considered during this process.

Now is the time to consider if dormant seeding your lawn is right for you. For more information on lawn care and maintenance, please visit the Extension Lawns and Turfgrass Management website at www.extension.umn.edu/garden/turfgrass/.

Contacts

Karen Johnson
Extension Educator, Ag Production Systems
(320) 484-4303
ande9495@umn.edu
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