Can you plant grass seed in winter?


Can you plant grass seed in winter?

Yes, of course you can but it won't work how you'd imagine.

Sowing grass seed in winter is called "dormant seeding" the seeds you plant will lie in the ground, staying dormant until the Spring comes and warms up the soil.

This carries some risks:

  • Birds: They can and will eat your lawn seeds
  • Torrential rain or snow melt: Excess water can dislodge your seeds resulting in uneven coverage when the soil warms in the Spring.
  • A warm few days: It does happen even in winter! This could result in your seeds sprouting, young seedlings are not strong and if the weather turns cold again they could die.

Will it grow?

Your success or failure depends entirely on the weather / temperatures. If the soil is warm enough your grass seed will grow in the winter although it may not survive.

Another overlooked factor is the type of grass seed you use. Most popular varieties require a soil temperature of 9-12 degrees, you can get some fast growing grass seeds that can germinate in soil with temperatures as low as 5 degrees.

I wish I could give you a definitive answer, you can certainly grow grass seed in winter but it may not survive, it is often best to do the preparation in winter then wait until Spring or Autumn.

TOP TIP: Find out when is the best time to plant grass seed.

How to repair winter lawn damage?

British winters will wreak havoc on even the most cared for lawn. A unique mix of torrential rain, freezing temperatures, snow, frost and the occasional warm spell can leave your lawn looking like a right mess come the Spring.

One of the best ways to repair winter lawn damage is to prevent it happening in the first place! Just because it's cold and your grass is growing more slowly doesn't mean your job is done.

  • Drainage: Ensure your soil drains freely and deeply. A lawn aerator can help if you have one, failing that a garden fork will do the job, make holes a few inches deep.
  • Fertilise: There is less sunlight during the winter months but your lawn still needs to be fed. You should be feeding your lawn every 8-12 weeks depending on the product you use.
  • Fix bald spots: Bare soil is quickly colonised by weeds, use a cold tolerant grass seed and some top soil to fill in bare patches as soon as they appear.
  • Stay off the Grass: Avoid stepping on your lawn during winter. The excess moisture will compact the soil when pressure is applied and the grass doesn't bounce back as quickly when there is less sunlight.

Winter lawn protection

Prevent winter damage before it even starts. Apply between September and January.

How to sow grass seed in winter

If you are completely determined to plant your grass seed this winter then here's how you should go about it for the best chance of success:

  • Preparation: Do as you normally would at any other time of year. Rake over it to remove dead grass and thatch, aerate it and add some top soil (about an inch thick). 
  • Get the Right Seed: As we've established, not all grass seeds will grow in winter. Good Grow grass seed will but temperatures must be above 5 degrees otherwise it lay dormant.
  • Sow It: Spread it evenly across your lawn ensuring the seeds have good contact with the soil.
  • Grow It: Ensure the seeds are moist, it's unlikely you will have to water your lawn during winter
  • Enjoy It: Cross your fingers and hope for a mild spell, if your grass seed fails to grow in the winter it will lay dormant and grow in the Spring so all your efforts won't be wasted.

Winter is definitely not the best time to grow grass seed (especially in the shade) but doing something is better than doing nothing. Put the effort in during the winter and your lawn will Spring to life when the temperatures rise giving you the lush, healthy green lawn you dreamed of.

About the author 


Hey there, I am founder and editor in chief here at Good Grow. I guess I've always known I was going to be a gardener. I'm on a mission to share my UK based weed control & lawn care tips with you all. If you have any queries please post in the comments below.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Related Posts

What Are Mulch Blades?
How to Kill Clover in Lawns
How to Kill Trefoil in Lawns
How to Kill Speedwell in Lawns
When to Put Down Grass Seeds? What Time of Year is Best?
How to Protect Grass in Winter