The typical seeding window for permanent cool-season grasses closes between September 15 to October 1 in many areas of the world. This does not mean you need to give up on improving your lawn, golf course or sports field until next spring.
Dr. Leah A. Brilman
Director of Product Management and Techincal Services
DLF USA & Seed Research of Oregon
The typical seeding window for permanent cool-season grasses
closes between September 15 to October 1 in many areas of
the world. This does not mean you need to give up on improving
your lawn, golf course or sports field until next spring. Dormant
seeding planted November through March can fix areas, help
change genetics or have seed in place in areas with previous
damage from drought, cold or other abiotic stress. It can also be
helpful in areas with wet spring soils that make planting difficult.
Dormant seeding makes sense anytime you are out of the optimal
period for not only germination but establishment. Planting creeping
bentgrass, Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue, perennial ryegrass and
most fine fescues once the temperatures drop below 50 degrees would
be considered dormant seeding. Prepare the seedbed as you would
for regular seeding and make sure you have good seed to soil contact.
The cold temperatures will keep the seed from germinating until
spring when they emerge much sooner than if planted in the spring.
The weather conditions and moisture in winter act like seed priming
to enable quick, early germination. The best month depends on
your location. Use a higher seeding rate to compensate for any loss.
Correct any problems with your site before seeding. Sometimes
you need to examine the site to see why the turfgrass failed in the
first place. Maybe it is problems with the irrigation system, soil
issues, tree root competition, too much shade or wet spots. Try to
correct these problems before any seeding is done. Think about
how much maintenance you want to do and the look you want to
have. Tall Fescue / Kentucky bluegrass blends do well for high or
low maintenance. Fine fescue blends are excellent for sun or shade
low maintenance and can be used for reduced mowing or a meadow
type look. Kentucky bluegrasses are often considered the highest
quality lawn in northern areas. Perennial ryegrasses are added to
many blends for quick establishment and dark green color but make
sure any blend has ryegrass cultivars with Gray Leaf Spot resistance.
Wait for spring. Seed should be germinating just as the soil starts
warming. If its dry you may need to irrigate to improve establishment.
If you have a good stand you may not need preemergent
herbicides or can use them now. If you need to thicken the stand
wait and use post-emergent herbicides for early weeds. Stronger
plants from the winter planting leads to better summer survival.