Dormant seed on snow

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by RigglePLC, Jan 2, 2018.

  1. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 15,817

    Is it possible to sow grass seed on snow? The results will be shown about mid-April. Left to right: bluegrass, perennial rye, fine fescue and tall fescue. Temperature was 23 F, and snow depth was about 8 inches. Seed was sown by hand sprinkling. I used three feet by three feet plots, bare soil in a shady area. Previous plots were seeded on November 25. Spring dormant seeding is planned for about the day snow melts--about March 15. The left half of each plot was fertilized with Milorganite (5-2-0) in advance, (at about 41 pounds per thousand sqft.)

    This test is essentially the same as in the winter of 2017.


  2. dKoester

    dKoester LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,521

    I think you might put up a small net over your test plot because of birds.
    gcbailey, wjjones, TPendagast and 2 others like this.
  3. OP

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 15,817

    Good point, Koester. The smart birds have flown south. Probably not eating the seeds. Light snow again--I will take a look at the plots. I think that probably the snow covered the grass seeds. Cold here, 17, now. Potential below zero predicted in the next two days.
    hort101 likes this.
  4. OP

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 15,817

    Snow did indeed cover the seeds.
    However, last week there was a warm spell, and bit of rain on top of the snow. It melted and the seeds sank down to the soil. No sign of any sprouting. Perennial rye, fine fescue, tall fescue and bluegrass.
    Then last night we got an inch of new snow and the temp dropped to 23 F.
    hort101 likes this.
  5. 44DCNF

    44DCNF LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,039

    A friend just told me before winter when I was discussing a patch of buffalo grass I planted that the farmers where he hunts have talked about their sowing grass seed on the snow before the thaw and getting good results.

    I dont think it will be sprouting until soil temperatures and daily temps are constantly in the right range.
    hort101 likes this.
  6. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 16,017

    so seed need moisture AND temperature to germinate.
    In the case of snowy/frozen ground it will not germinate due to the temp.
    I will sit there (unless eaten) and wait for the temp.

    I have applied it over snow before (not that deep) and had no problems growing it next season, but it was hydroseed not just seed thrown at the snow.
    I imagine because of the method you used and the depth of the snow you will get little to no success.
    What may happen is the seed gets warm enough to crack open and then another freeze comes along and kills it in late winter.
    Had it been below most of the snow cover, youd probably see different results.
    If you hydroseed over an inch or two early winter, youll get grass growing early spring, especially if you have a good snow cover most of the year over the hydroseed application, it will keep it at an even temp until its unlikely to refreeze again.
  7. OP

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 15,817

    Big news--to me at least. The fine fescue (variety Boreal), which was planted Novermber 25, 2017 came up first. It snowed on top of it a few times due to unusual snow storms in April.
    Top to bottom: Kentucky bluegrass, perennial rye, fine fescue, and tall fescue.

    Soil temperature about 55, air temp about 65.
    The violets were pulled from about 10 feet away. They were just to indicate the growth stage of the season. The first mowing on nearby lawns is about a week away. The first dandelions have appeared.




    Last edited: Apr 26, 2018
  8. OP

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 15,817

    The GDD50, Growing Degree Days Base 32 were at about 306, when the sprouts appeared. The sprouts germinated and appeared above ground about a week before greenup of nearby established lawns. The germination was about 3 weeks before the first mowing of nearby established cool season grass.
  9. KerbDMK

    KerbDMK LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,470

    GDD base 32, here in my lawn, at this very hour are 244. So, I should get ready to see some sprouts! ;)
  10. OP

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 15,817

    Seed was planted in the winter. Here is the resulting photo. I tried to outline the main parameters, (3 ft by 3 ft plots). Back to front: grass seed sown January 2, November 25, and March 3rd, 2018. Left to right: Kentucky bluegrass, perennial rye, fine fescue and tall fescue. Plots were on sandy soil which was mostly bare due to heavy shade in the previous year. Soil preparation was a light raking to remove leaves. There was no irrigation.
    Milorganite as a starter fertilizer was applied on the left half of each plot. This resulted in slightly more growth and density.
    The first sprouts were fine fescue. The first sprouts appeared on April 4, 2018. The first sprouts were from seed sown November 25.
    The fine fescue (Boreal) and perennial rye had the most thickness.

    Last edited: May 14, 2018
    Delmarva Keith likes this.

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