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Dormant Seeding vs Spring Seeding – Which Is Best for Your Lawn?

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Are you planning to reseed your lawn? You are probably thinking that springtime is the best season to reseed since this time of the year is known for growth.

But did you know you can seed at during other seasons? Dormant seeding involves reseeding a lawn in late fall or early winter.

beautiful house with a well cut lawn

With more options to choose from, which is better for reseeding your lawn: dormant seeding or spring seeding?

Both seeding techniques are determined by the season, your location, and your preferred seed mix. Dormant seeding, however, offers more advantages.

What Are Seeding and Reseeding?

Seeding is the introduction of seeds into a lawn for the growth of new plants.

Overseeding refers to dispersing seeds in areas of your lawn with few blades of grass to encourage the growth of new grass plants.

Reseeding can also be used interchangeably with overseeding, but it means growing new grass after the death of the former set of grass.

Seeding Your Lawn In Spring vs. Dormant Seasons

What Is Spring Seeding?

reseeding lawn

Spring seeding is simply starting new grass in springtime.

Spring seeding is the most popular method of seeding because it is suitable for both cool and warm season types of grass.

The ground is not too hard for the roots of your plants to establish their roots.

Advantages of Spring Seeding

  • Both cool and warm season types of grass germinate quickly in spring.
  • Cool season grasses germinate almost instantly while warm season grasses take less than two weeks to germinate.
  • Due to quick germination, seed loss is reduced.
  • There is an optimum seed to soil contact in springtime.
  • You can easily eliminate cool season weeds (that survive winter) before reseeding in spring.
  • You generally experience favorable weather and more time for your lawn to grow.

Disadvantages of Spring Seeding

  • Spring seeding is best for warm season grasses since the approaching summer will increase temperatures.
  • Clay soil is usually difficult to work with during spring.
  • Spring is the season of starting and caring for most crops, so you may not give much attention to your lawn if you have a garden.
  • Grasses started in spring require much watering.

What is Dormant Seeding?

morning lawn with frost

Dormancy means a period of inactivity. Dormant seeding is seeding in late fall or early winter when the ground is too cold for seeds to germinate, but still warm enough to prevent the seeds from freezing.

In dormant seeding, grass seeds are sown on the ground and then snow falls over them, covering them (in their dormant state) until springtime when they will germinate and grow.

Advantages of Dormant Seeding

  • Grasses started with dormant seeding have high moisture in spring when they germinate, so they need less rain.
  • Dormant seeding is best for cool season grasses such as turf-type tall fescue, bluegrass, and perennial rye grass.
  • Seeds that can survive winter are hardy, so they have a higher chance of not dying after winter.
  • When seeds germinate after winter, you have enough time to overseed areas in your lawn with a low rate of germination.
  • You can spend the time you would have used to attend to your lawn during spring for other activities.

Disadvantages of Dormant Seeding

  • Before the snow falls over and cover the seeds, birds and other animals can steal your seeds.
  • The harsh winter condition can kill some seeds.
  • Some seeds can get lost due to erosion.
  • Generally, the number of seeds to survive dormant seeding is much smaller than the number of seeds dispersed.
  • To get a thick lawn, you will need to spend more on buying and dispersing more seeds to get a higher rate of survival.
  • You cannot overseed in winter because of the low seed to soil contact.

Should You Use Dormant Seeding or Spring Seeding?

planting seeds on lawn

To choose the right seeding method for your lawn and location, you need consider several factors.

The table will help you compare the two options to choose the best fit for you.

ConsiderationSpring SeedingDormant Seeding
Grass TypeBest for warm season grassesBest for cool season grasses
Germination RateMost grass seeds germinate in spring.Slow rate of germination and many seeds do not survive the cold weather.
Survival RateSince almost all seeds will germinate, weak grasses can die later.Any seed that can germinate after winter is hardy and can to survive other conditions.
OverseedingYou can only discover areas of your lawn to overseed in late spring.You will know areas of your lawn to overseed in early spring.

Considerations for Seeding Your Lawn

1. Seed to Soil Contact

For grasses to grow, their roots will need to have contact with the soil. Make sure there is a layer of thatch (organic matter) between grass blade and soil.

If you reseed or overseed in areas where there are a lot of grasses already, your new seeds might not germinate.

You should disperse seeds in areas with few grass populations or bare ground. You can also choose to mow the existing grass or dethatch some areas for your new seeds.

2. Type of Seed Mix

There are various kinds of seed mix. Make sure that the seed mix that you are buying is suitable to your location and seeding technique.

It is advised to not use a seed mix of cool season grasses for spring seeding or to use warm season grass seeds for dormant seeding.

3. Water and Grass-Specific Fertilizer

woman holding lawn fertilizer

You should always check the ground to see if it is dry and needs watering. You should install sprinklers or set aside time to ensure proper watering of your grass regularly.

For feeding, you should use grass-specific fertilizer for your lawn. These fertilizers are usually cheaper than other fertilizers.

Final Thoughts

Spring seeding is the seeding technique of dispersing grass seeds on your lawn in springtime while dormant seeding involves sowing grass seeds in early winter or late fall. You can choose any method that you like, but each method has its advantages based on the type of grass.


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