Dormant seeding of turfgrass


The best time to seed cool-season grasses such as tall fescue and
Kentucky bluegrass is September because the turf has more time to mature
before spring crabgrass germination and the heat stress of summer.
Dormant seeding of turfgrass is sometimes used to help fill in bare
spots of lawns that weren’t overseeded in the fall. Dormant overseeding
is done during the winter (December – February) when it is much too cold
for germination.
As with any seeding program, good seed-soil contact is vital. Several
methods can be used. One method is to seed when there has been a light
snowfall of up to an inch. This is shallow enough that bare spots can
still be seen. Spread seed by hand on areas that need thickening up. As
the snow melts, it brings the seed into good contact with the soil where
it will germinate in the spring.
Another method is dependent on the surface of the soil being moist
followed by freezing weather. As moist soil freezes and thaws, small
pockets are formed on the wet, bare soil that is perfect for catching
and holding seed. As the soil dries, the pockets collapse and cover the
A third method involves core aerating, verticutting or hand raking and
broadcasting seed immediately after. Of course, the soil must be dry
enough and unfrozen for this to be practical. With any of the above
methods, seed germinates in the spring as early as possible. There will
be limitations on what herbicides can be used for weed control. Tupersan
(siduron) can be used as a crabgrass preventer on new seedings even
before they have come up. Also dithiopyr, found in Hi-Yield Turf and
Ornamental Weed and Grass Stopper, can be used on tall fescue, Kentucky
bluegrass, and perennial ryegrass two weeks after germination. Dithiopyr
is longer lasting and more effective than siduron. Other preemergence
herbicides require that the turf be well established before application.


By: Ward Upham


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