Late winter seeding through February can give your lawn a head start come spring
COLUMBIA, Mo. – Late winter seeding through February can help give your lawn a head start come spring, said a University of Missouri turfgrass scientist.
The old remedy of seeding prior to a snowfall does warrant some credibility if done at the right time of late winter or early spring,” said Brad Fresenburg, an extension and research associate at MU’s Turfgrass Research Center.
The key is to get the seed down to the soil surface. Melting snow will mud-in the seed just enough to achieve germination, he said.
“This is not the best method, but germination rates should be sufficient to improve a thinned stand of grass,” Fresenburg said.
You also can broadcast seed on mostly bare soil that has been tilled or loosened the previous fall through February, when weather conditions will bring a series of freezing and thawing periods.
Freezing and thawing of bare soil produces small ice-forming peaks and ridges in the soil surface. This creates cracks and crevices for seeds to fall into, where they will eventually be covered with soil, he said.
“Germination rates for this type of seeding are very good and allow seed to establish very early, offering some competition against annual grasses and broadleaf weeds,” Fresenburg said.
You can seed after the final thaw, with complete tillage of the area if dry conditions exist. Freshly tilled, graded soil offers a perfect bed for over-seeding.
Straw can help hold the soil and serve as mulch until germination takes off.
Seeding with a power-seeder or slit-seeder will allow you to plant turfgrass without complete tillage.
Many common pre-emergent herbicides will kill the turfgass seeds. For controlling crabgrass, you can use Tupersan, which can be applied any time grass is planted. It works best when applied during the last week of March through the first two weeks of April.
Another herbicide, Dimension, can be used for annual grass control after a new stand of grass has had two mowings.
When using any herbicide, always follow the instructions on the label for safe handling and application.
For more information on lawn care, go to http://extension.missouri.edu and search under “lawn care.”