About this Project
Missed the pre-frost window to establish new grass from seed?
You still can prep your lawn for spring once the soil cools down. Overseeding your lawn is one of the best ways to prevent weeds and improve grass coverage.
Putting seed down after fall “warmth” is over gives the seed a chance to move into the soil layers, where they will rest until spring. The seed will sprout in the spring when ground temperatures are great for germination, and soil microorganisms are actively delivering nutrients to young seedlings.
Wait until the ground is cool enough to prevent germination (perhaps after Nov 1st in Maryland). If your local garden stores are not carrying seed through the late fall and winter, many will gladly order it for you.
The seeds need good contact with soil, so you’ll want to pull aside leaves, cut your dormant grass low, and scratch the soil surface, aerate, or seed slice before adding seed. This ensures grass seed can touch soil and fall deeper into the soil with freeze/thaw cycles. Any grass clippings or leaves you pulled aside to prep the soil for seeding should ideally be pulled back across the surface, and mowed into smaller pieces so they can naturally fertilize the lawn.
In spring, you’ll have a new flush of grass growth, and can fill in small areas where dormant seeding did not succeed!
Most people seed in spring and then experience some amount of dead grass in the late summer. This is because spring seeded lawns do not have enough time to be established before the stress of the summer months.
If you dormant seed successfully, your lawn in the spring will be established weeks earlier, providing a better chance the lawn will survive August and September. The incentive you will receive is that your lawn will be green in the summer and you'll have less yard work when the temperatures climb sky high.