Overseeding is the best way to guarantee that your lawn is full and green come Spring. But we understand that you’ve had a busy Fall—watching high school football games on Friday night, college football games all Saturday, and NFL football games all Sunday. When are you supposed to overseed? Now it’s late in October and you haven’t had a chance to overseed! Is it too late?
Probably, yes, unfortunately.
A rule-of-thumb used by many lawn care experts is that the last day you can overseed should be roughly 45 days before the first frost. If you live near Hancock Seed in Florida or around the Gulf, there's a chance that overseeding is still an option for you. If you are one of our many friends in the Midwest, it will be considerably riskier for you to attempt overseeding as we enter November.
Instead, consider dormant seeding!
In truth, the difference between overseeding and dormant seeding is semantics. The process is very similar, and varies only in what time of year you cast your seed. Overseeding operates under the assumption that the seed will immediately take hold and begin developing before Winter strikes. When your lawn emerges from hibernation, it will be stronger and more verdant.
Unfortunately, if you overseed too soon to cold weather, the frost will hamper the new seed’s ability to grow. Your lawn will not be dense, and it may end up being just as patchy as you left it during the Fall.
So what difference does dormant seeding make? Dormant seeding is the idea that seed you cast will not immediately germinate, but instead will remain “dormant” until Spring. That means waiting, maybe even until December, to put your seed down. If you’ve waited this long, it will pay to keep on waiting!
Be sure to speak to local experts to find the optimal time for dormant seeding in your area.
When dormant seeding, even more emphasis must be placed on bringing your seed into contact with the soil. For example, broadcast seeding will work fine for most overseeding, but it should not be trusted for dormant seeding. It may be worth your while to purchase or rent a slit seeder; this machine will cut a slice into the soil, and then deposit seed within. Raking loose or dead grass from the lawn prior to seeding will also improve the seed-to-soil contact.
Now, you’ll need to water your lawn. The goal, as usual, is to leave your lawn in a moist state. As you know, too much water will drown your seed. But this logic will mean using even less water during the late Fall as you would during the Summer. The cooler temperatures during this season mean that you don’t need to worry about evaporation, and therefore a little bit of water will go a lot longer.
Now, just let the seed wait until Spring! Barring a Winter hot streak, the average seasonal precipitation will keep your seed well-hydrated.
At the end of the day, we recommend Fall overseeding over both dormant seeding or Spring overseeding, for best results. That said, you can combine the latter two for better results! Consider light overseeding during early Spring to boost your Summer results!
Hancock’s Turf Type Tall Fescue and Hancock’s Ryegrass Seed are good options for your dormant seeding needs, as neither require constant maintenance to take hold. The goal of dormant seeding is for you to leave these seeds alone after you’ve sown them...and these blends are happy to oblige!