QUESTION: Hi, I am in Massachusetts. We finally removed the leaves from a 1.5-acre lawn. There are some bare spots. Is it too late in the season to sprinkle a little grass seed and maybe some compost in those areas. … or should we wait until spring? Many of the weeds/crabgrass areas have died leaving dead grass & bare spots.
The weather will be sunny, mid-40s for the next few days then rain on Thursday.
Thank you …Happy Holidays!
ANSWER: It is OK to seed bare spots this time of year, just don’t expect germination until spring and you actually don’t want germination until then because the seedlings won’t survive the winter. Soil temperatures need to be in the mid 50’s to 60’s for grass seeds to start germinating.
I prefer dormant seeding in late fall through late winter instead of waiting until the spring because the results are usually better. The seed is already in the ground when soil moisture and temperatures are optimum for germination and the new grass has plenty of time to mature before the heat and drought of summer.
To ensure success with dormant seeding, work the seed into the top 1/2 inch of soil — a little compost on top of that will be beneficial. Seed a little heavier than normal to compensate for any winter loss. It is also OK to seed when the soil is frozen. The freezing, thawing and heaving of the soil create cracks and crevasses for the seed, ideal for germination come spring.
The key to dormant seeding is getting it down before a snow cover. Your weather over the next couple of days sounds perfect.
If you plan to use a preemergent herbicide (crabgrass preventer), do not apply it to your newly seeded spots until late spring.
Note: I only recommend dormant seeding small patches. Consider sodding large areas. Sod can be laid any time the ground is not frozen — or any time sod farms are cutting it.