Overseeding in Winter: How to Dormant Seed a Lawn

Overseeding during winter is a very common practice among gardeners. It is an easier way of filling bare spots, thickening grass, and enhancing the overall appearance of a lawn. While it will not produce instant results, the seed will germinate immediately after the soil starts warming in spring.

In this guide, I have explained how you can successfully overseed your lawn in winter for the best results in spring.

Can you overseed a lawn in winter?

Yes, you can plant grass seed very well during the winter season. This process is called dormant seeding and it gives you a head start for establishing a lawn when spring comes. The planted seed lay dormant in the soil until when the soil starts to warm in spring.

According to the University of Minnesota Extension, dormant seeding works perfectly when the seen remains covered with several inches of snow throughout the cold season.

However, timing is very important before overseeding in winter. If done too early, your seeds will germinate before frost and the young seedlings will not make it in the real winter.

Cast your seed when the season is cold enough for germination but before the ground is frozen. This is usually anywhere from late October to Mid-November in most states. In addition to that, choose a grass type that is well adapted to the conditions in your region.

Also, check the Best time to aerate and overseed a lawn.

How to overseed a lawn in winter (Dormant Seed)

Overseeding may be a challenge because most of the time competition emerges between the existing grass and the newly planted ones. You can avoid it by overseeding when the temperatures are lower, which helps reduce fertilization and water intake.

Here is a simple guide to what you are required to do:

  1. Mow the existing lawn slightly lower than normal. Scalping will help good seed-to-soil contact and reduce competition with the newly planted grass.
  2. Scarification should also be done to remove thatch and loosen the soil for the new seeds.
  3. Select your best quality seed for winter depending on how you want your lawn to be and the climatic conditions of your region.
  4. It’s always good to spread your seeds in all directions for you to attain good results, overseed your lawn by use of a lawn spreader in different directions as this will reduce overlapping and skipping of your lawn.
  5. It is always good for you to add a starter fertilizer like Pennington Ultra green Starter Fertilizer 12-22-8, after you are done with overseeding your lawn and this is done before watering.
  6. Apply a thick layer of mulch as this will help in suppressing the weeds and help retain moisture and warmth which is essential for germination.
  7. We all know that water is an important aspect of growth. Always keep your lawn moisturized, one can decide to be watering the lawn twice or thrice a day for the first five days for faster growth as this aids in the formation of deep roots.
  8. Once you notice that your winter lawn is germinating, you may choose to reduce water intake.

Final thought:

You can thicken your lawn by practicing overseeding and for good results, you must water your lawn daily for the survival of the young seeds. Conduct soil tests before seeding and carry out any recommended amendments.


  1. Kansas State University Agricultural, Dormant Lawn Seeding
  2. University of Massachusetts Amherst, Lawn Renovation & Overseeding

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