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View Full Version : when is it too late to seed?


godjwood
10-08-2009, 02:41 PM
Hi,

I live in RI, and I'm not sure when it is too late to seed (over seed or seed new lawns)

I already stopped end of last week, as I am afraid it is going to get too cold. But I feel like some people seed later than this.

What is your input?

Turboguy
10-08-2009, 06:21 PM
I am way out in Western PA. You are a little further north but also should get some warming from the ocean so I think our seeding season should be pretty similar. I usually seed until November 1st. This year has been colder than most so I may stop a week or so before usual. I have seeded into mid November but there can be problems if it is an early winter and colder than usual. Once it really gets cold then I can dormant seed, even over the snow and usually that works out fine.

DA Quality Lawn & YS
10-10-2009, 12:37 AM
Too cold to seed here in Upper Midwest and expect germination. Last good seeding here was 3rd week of Sept. All that remains is dormant seed if you so choose....

jweiner
10-10-2009, 12:35 PM
Yes, but will the "dormant seed" come up in the spring the same as if you would have seeded in the Spring?

Turboguy
10-10-2009, 12:54 PM
If you seeded right now it would probably fail unless we get a long warm spell which doesn't seem likely this year.

Wait a while and the odds are good there would be a great stand of new grass in the spring. The problem with seeding now is that enough of the grass would probably germinate but never get strong enough and large enough to survive the hard winter freezes. Once there is no chance of it germinating then the seed should sit there just fine and come up in the early sping.

jweiner
10-10-2009, 01:26 PM
So when would be an ideal time for dormant seeding?

integrityman
10-10-2009, 03:36 PM
I just read an article that indicated that February was the best month for dormant overseeding. I will try to find it again and post it.

jweiner
10-10-2009, 03:40 PM
But I could never seed in February. There's snow on the ground then.

Turboguy
10-10-2009, 06:32 PM
I would say anytime after the first of December.

RigglePLC
10-10-2009, 09:17 PM
Go ahead and seed now.
Two years ago a customer had his lawn ripped out and redone by a company I recommended. After they got started it rained for 3 weeks and they could not get equipment on the dirt. Finally seeded it Oct 19. Then it got really cold. Very very slow. But a quarter inch high in 2 weeks, about 2 inches high by Thanksgiving--few days of 55 degrees followed--and finally mid-December about 4 inches high. First mowing last week of April. Looked Ok by June. Looked great by July. Mixture had some crappy intermediate (annual) rye. But the perennial rye (Blazer IV) and later the bluegrass (Bronco) came on strong.

DA Quality Lawn & YS
10-11-2009, 12:46 AM
Go ahead and seed now.
Two years ago a customer had his lawn ripped out and redone by a company I recommended. After they got started it rained for 3 weeks and they could not get equipment on the dirt. Finally seeded it Oct 19. Then it got really cold. Very very slow. But a quarter inch high in 2 weeks, about 2 inches high by Thanksgiving--few days of 55 degrees followed--and finally mid-December about 4 inches high. First mowing last week of April. Looked Ok by June. Looked great by July. Mixture had some crappy intermediate (annual) rye. But the perennial rye (Blazer IV) and later the bluegrass (Bronco) came on strong.

Really, so there really isn't a bad 'bubble' time in which to seed? Normally I thought, for Zone 4 at least, that roughly Oct 1-mid Nov was bad because it was too late to germinate BUT too early to dormant seed. Interesting conversation here, keep it up....

Turboguy
10-11-2009, 06:37 AM
Personally, I would agree with you DA. The only thing I do on the landscape part of my business is hydro seeding. I have seeded as much as 2 million sq. ft. a year for about 16 years. The only problem lawn seeding job I had last year was a 3 acre warehouse job that they hoped to have ready in September but it kept dragging on and was not ready to seed until the 10th of November. I got germination but not enough growth for the grass to be strong enough to survive. I ended up losing my shirt on that job since when I tried to reseed in the spring the ground was hard as a rock and of course never got watered. I ended up going back 3-4 times at my expense until I finally had a passable lawn but not one I would be very proud of. I have done other jobs in that time frame as much as I try to avoid it and have always had to go back and reseed. The other jobs had real topsoil and not clay and had people who would water the seed so I only had to go back once which I can live with.

I do normally seed until Nov 1st and just did one lawn and have about 3 more to do before I quit. As of now I don't have any dormant seeding jobs lined up but have done a number of them, usually in December and don't recall ever needing to go back and reseed.

jweiner
10-11-2009, 10:03 AM
Turboguy -

I'm a bit confused by your response. You indicate that you hydroseeded a lawn around November 10th and had to go back 3-4 times the following Spring. Then you go on to say that you usually seed until November 1st. How is November 10th different then November 1st? Are you saying that if you can't seed by November 1st, then don't seed until December 1st? I don't see what the difference is between November 1st and November 10th??

RigglePLC
10-11-2009, 11:36 AM
"Too young or too weak to survive the winter" that is the real question. I think we need some experiments here. Scientific factual data would be nice. Maybe seed planted in every week of the year, well watered. Results compared. Percent survival. Effects of snow and no snow. Maybe some seed company has done this inside in chilled growth chambers. Would make an easy Masters thesis for a grad student that has a year or two with nothing better to do. Compare 10 different seed species and cultivars if you have about a couple more years.

Kiril
10-11-2009, 12:43 PM
"Too young or too weak to survive the winter" that is the real question. I think we need some experiments here. Scientific factual data would be nice. Maybe seed planted in every week of the year, well watered. Results compared. Percent survival. Effects of snow and no snow. Maybe some seed company has done this inside in chilled growth chambers. Would make an easy Masters thesis for a grad student that has a year or two with nothing better to do. Compare 10 different seed species and cultivars if you have about a couple more years.

Problem here is it will largely be site dependent. While you might be able to draw some rough conclusions based on USDA zone (temps, day length), the rest will depend on the site conditions. In short, too much potential variability to be much good for general guidance IMO.

Turboguy
10-11-2009, 02:17 PM
Krill, sorry if my post confused you. There are two things in life you can't predict, women and weather!

Someplace you have to draw a line and say this is when I prefer to stop seeding and consider later seeding to be risky. I draw that line at Nov 1st. Some years I would have been fine seeding on November 10th. Last year was colder than usual and this year seems even colder yet. Had it been a warm November the job would have been ok. Probably had it been a residential lawn that would have been watered, it may have been ok. It was a food distribution warehouse, there was no topsoil, there was no irrigation. In most areas the grass germinated and got to be 1/2" spikes. Had it not germinated or had it gotten bigger and stronger it would have been ok. Perhaps in hindsight I should have blown straw on top of the hydro seeding. It may have kept the soil a little warmer and helped protect the seedlings. It would have been far cheaper and easier than going back and putting down another 700 pounds of seed. My 20-20 hindsight is always great.

This year seems like it will be even colder than last. I really would like to get my last jobs done at least a week earlier than usual and more if possible. I am glad when I see our leaders talking about actually doing something about global warming. Just think how great it will be for the business of those who plow snow when they fix global warming and put us in another ice age.

Kiril
10-11-2009, 02:38 PM
Krill, sorry if my post confused you. There are two things in life you can't predict, women and weather!

:confused: I didn't even read your post.

I personally draw the line at soil temps and how much time I have before growth essentially stops for the year. I like to see enough growth to warrant 1-2 mows before dormancy sets it.

With respect to dormant seeding, I believe it is better to do it early in the year rather than late. The more time the seed is out there, the more chance that it will be lost due to any number of factors (predation, rot, etc...).

Turboguy
10-11-2009, 03:49 PM
Sorry Krill, that was JWeiner who said my post confused him. I can agree that later is better but sometimes you have to go with when the weather permits.

kirk1701
10-12-2009, 01:38 AM
Sorry Krill, that was JWeiner who said my post confused him. I can agree that later is better but sometimes you have to go with when the weather permits.

Exactly.
Case in point I did some reseeding this year (see my thread HERE! (http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=284812) Start on PG 5.) Here's a link to my before, during and Aftershot photo Album
http://home.insightbb.com/~kirk1701/Lawn.htm

Now my point being, I started to wait and do this all starting Oct 1 and boy am I glad I didn't. I'll try to update the album tomorrow with shots of the backyard as I just mowed it already for the first time today.

Why did I start to wait? Last year at this time it was still in the 90's and in a drought. I had powerseeded my lawn last year and actually ended up having to go back and reseed alot of areas because the seed just didn't stay wet long enough to sprout. This year, Hell I may have watered the front three times and the back I think I watered maybe twice. Mother nature did the rest of the work for me :drinkup:

anotherturfgeek
10-14-2009, 09:33 AM
As a general rule if the soil temp falls below 50 degrees the less likely your seeds chances of sprouting. Above 50 the % goes up

Puttinggreens
10-14-2009, 09:56 AM
I am in strong agreement with Turboguy.

We too install about 2 million square feet of new seed per year all through our aeration program. I am in south eastern PA and follow the same dates he does, we stop seeding from Halloween to December 1. Last year was even further into December because it got so warm.

I have read university data (don't know where right now) that stated dormant seeding in December / January was more successful than seeding in the early spring. My best reasoning is that this is so is because during the winter rains, snow, and freeze thaw cycle the seed develops great seed to soil contact. In fact you often have a hard time visually finding the seed in early spring because it is so well worked into the soil.

The other downside to spring soil conditions are usually very sloppy limiting.