Cold Weather & Dormant Grass Seeding Facts

To Seed or Not To Seed? Cold Weather & Dormant Seeding Facts

Does it make sense to seed your lawn in the winter? Surprisingly, there’s research showing that cold weather, or dormant seeding, is actually more productive than spring seeding.

So what are some of the pluses and minuses to consider for dormant seeding to help you choose when to work on your lawn? 

Aeration & Seed to Soil Contact

With any seeding, improving seed to soil contact will increase the amount of seed that will germinate. This can be achieved with core aeration. And it can also be achieved by allowing frost to “crack” the soil and permitting more seed to make contact, increasing seed yield. 

No Weed Competition

Weeds typically don’t grow in much cooler conditions. And when looking at nature, many species have found ways to take advantage when and where there’s less competition. This is why weeds typically thrive during hot summers when grass is stressed or dormant. The reverse is true when growing grass. By taking advantage of cool temperatures when weeds are less of the issue, the grass seed you do want gets an edge in building your lawn.

No Weed Control Competition

Weed control, particularly pre-emergents, are put down in early spring to block weeds from taking route, most notably crab-grass. Pre-emergents will also block your grass seeds from taking route, leading to these practices working against each other. Most weed control programs are designed to wear off later in the season, removing the risk of having grass seed blocked from germinating.

Seed Survival

Grass is a cool weather plant and does well in colder conditions. Plus snow cover will protect seed from harsher conditions and being eaten by birds. However, a risk is if winter is milder or drier than anticipated which can cause a lower yield in seed growth. 


Many homeowners overlook the importance of watering new seed to encourage germination and growth. Fortunately, dormant seed does not require as much watering.

This comes from having snow melt contribute to seeds setting into the soil. Plus, by taking advantage of cooler conditions, your seeds are in the ground and ready when spring rains arrive. 

Seed Types

Most grass types, particularly Fescues, Ryegrass and Bluegrass will perform well with dormant seeding. And homeowners will also find that using blends of these types of grasses will lead to healthier, more tolerant lawns that look great in various weather conditions.

Overall, early fall provides the best conditions for seeding and growing grass. However, if you’re finding yourself starting late or considering cool weather conditions, dormant seeding offers a great option.

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