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Dormant Seeding, No Choice

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by Smallaxe, Oct 11, 2011.

  1. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    I just accepted a call to grow grass on 1200 sq. ft. of new topsoil. No existing grass at all, strictly bare soil in a shady lawn environment... This area is currently under pine needles and a few deciduous trees that haven't finished dropping yet...

    So I'm thinking that in a couple of weeks I would blow off the leaves, till the ground and rake in the red fescue/KBG shade seed mix. Nothing will be geminating in Nov. around here...

    What do others do in these last minute situations?
  2. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,568

    Sounds like a shade problem. Can you trim the trees? Remove any branches or bushes less than one-inch in diameter as high as you can reach without leaving the ground (with a pole saw). If you are lucky the soil temp is still warm for a few more weeks. (Over 50.)I would say the customer would be happier with a mix containing perennial rye--it is more likely to have green by Thanksgiving. Similar to this Pennington mix:

    Of course, pre-germinating in warm water might give you a slight edge.

    My experiments last month show that double fertilizer and triple seed raked-in, resulted in the most dense stand. ( I used a non-phos fert). Not every seed will germinate, so use extra to allow for half of the seed to fail.

    I also tried two, 2 by 2 foot areas seeded overgrass infested with heavy crabgrass in a vacant lot, no fert, no irrigation, no rake-in, about 4 weeks ago. Crabgrass died about 2 weeks ago. We had a good rain just before the cold spell. One block was seeded with one-ounce of seed on 4 sqft, the second was seeded with 3-ounces of seed per 4 sqft. (47 pounds per thousand sqft). It was fairly impressive, thick new grass. You can see it from 20 feet away. I hope to get photos today.
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2011
  3. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    No its not a shade problem so much as it is a winter problem. By the time the leaves are done cluttering the ground, it is too late in the season for grass to germinate, whether it gets more sun or not...

    The qestion remains, What do other LCO's do when it is too late in the season to get grass to grow before winter?

    For me Spring is often wet and sloppy working conditions, especially with 3-4" of fresh dirt... By the time it dries out in the spring, it should be turning green...
  4. mattb84

    mattb84 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 44

    Dormant seeding works well for us here. Spring has too much competition from weeds in general and by dormant seeding the grass has a head start in the spring. We also lose alot of grass when the temperature rises as well.(most properties are not irregated) On a small property with risk of erosion, we use straw mat. If erosion is a non issue we just seed and let the freeze/ thaw cycle work to our advantage. Ideally this is done after most of the leaves have fallen and been removed. It may be beneficial to get a light rate of perrenial rye out now and seed the fescue and/or KGB mid November.
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  5. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    You show N.Car., yet you're talking cool season grasses... Does the ground actually freeze in W. Jefferson?
  6. TheMadLandscaper

    TheMadLandscaper LawnSite Member
    Messages: 26

    I am in the New England area, I have some experience with trying to seed during a dormant period, where there is not a chance for the seed to germinate. November - December.

    In the spring I would get some germination but I would always have to re-seed to get good results.

    I have heard and talked to others pros about this subject and I was told that you have a better chance % wise of good germination in the spring, the later you wait to seed in the dormant period.

    I guess it all depends on your location and the weather pattern.
  7. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    And of course every weather pattern is different, every winter... sometimes you have great luck and sometimes not...
    The thing I like most about dormant seeding is that the ground will tell you when conditions are right for germination... Once it starts turning green you can overseed as soon as it is dry enough to walk on... No tilling mud in April... :)
  8. mattb84

    mattb84 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 44

    Yes we have rough winters here as we are above 3000ft. If you run out of opportunity in the fall then put some seed down in november. If it doesnt take, at least there is an opportunity in the spring.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  9. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    3000 ft. explains it... I thought that mightbe the case...

    And I agree...

    The second chance is always there and the seed is cheaper than pre-m and bare ground that usually occurs when one stops renovating in Sept/Oct... :)

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