The 5 Best Grass Varieties for Dormant Seeding

Having lush, vibrant turf year-round is essential for any outdoor space to look sharp and well-maintained. But when winter rolls around, some grass varieties are more likely to survive cold weather better than others, making it essential to choose the right grass type during dormant seeding. Making smart decisions early on can give you beautiful lawns year-round that will be easier to maintain during the colder months of winter. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the five best grass varieties for dormant seeding so you can enjoy a healthy lawn all year long

What is Dormant Seeding?

Dormant seeding is a technique used in the cultivation of grasses where the seeds are sown in the winter, during a period of dormancy. This method of planting can be advantageous for several reasons, including the avoidance of competition with weeds, reduced soil erosion and increased germination rates come springtime. Additionally, dormant seeding allows for the establishment of a stronger root system, which can lead to healthier turf overall. While it may not be suitable for every situation, dormant seeding can be a smart choice for those looking to improve the quality and appearance of their lawn or field. With proper planning and execution, this technique can yield impressive results for both homeowners and professionals in the landscaping industry.

The 5 Best Grass Varieties for Dormant Seeding

For successful dormant seeding, it is best to use hardy varieties of cool-season grasses. These species have seeds that can withstand winter conditions and sprout quickly in spring. The following grass varieties are the top choices for dormant seeding:

Kentucky Bluegrass

Kentucky Bluegrass also referred to as KBG, is an excellent choice for dormant seeding. It can be sowed during the winter season or in cool temperatures. It is recommended to sow approximately 3 to 4 pounds of Kentucky Bluegrass per 1000 square feet for optimal results.

Kentucky Bluegrass Mixes

Sometimes, seed blends may include Kentucky Bluegrass along with Fine or Tall Fescue and/or Ryegrass. These blends work well and include grasses that thrive in various levels of shade and soil moisture throughout the lawn. During winter seeding, use a spread of 3-4 pounds of seed per 1,000 square feet for these mixes. Note that seed mixes have 80-90% Kentucky Bluegrass seed, which can be treated similarly to pure KBG seed.

Perennial Ryegrass

Perennial ryegrass is an outstanding option for cool-season lawns in locations with scorching and arid summers, as it showcases superior drought resistance to KBG or Fescue. Additionally, dormant-season seeding yields remarkable results. To achieve optimal soil coverage and maximize germination rates, spreading 10–15 pounds of Perennial Ryegrass seed per 1,000 square feet of lawn is paramount.

Tall Fescue

When sowing Tall Fescue in winter, you will need to apply three times the weight per square foot than you would for Kentucky Bluegrass. This is due to the larger size of Fescue seeds. Nevertheless, you would be sowing almost the same number of seeds for both grass types. Therefore, you should apply 10-15 pounds of Tall Fescue seed for every 1,000 square feet of lawn.

Fine Fescue

Fine fescue varieties perform as well as “Tall” Fescue variants when seeded during the dormant season. Use the same poundage rates and spread 10-15 pounds of seed per 1,000 square feet. This rule also applies to seed blends containing both Tall and Fine Fescue.

What Grass Seed is Not Good for Dormant Seeding?

Dormant seeding is a helpful approach to lawn care as it enables grass to establish roots before the growing season. However, not all grass seeds are suitable for dormant seeding. Certain warm-season grasses are known to have inconsistent germination rates during cold weather months, making them unsuitable for this method. In particular, Bermuda grass and Zoysia grass can be slower to sprout and generally do not respond well to dormant seeding. Avoiding these types of grass seeds will help ensure a successful and healthy lawn year-round.

When Should You Plant Dormant Grass Seed?

Planting dormant grass seed can be an effective way to establish a new lawn or to fill in bare spots in an existing one. But when is the best time to plant dormant grass seed? The answer may vary depending on the climate and region where you live, but generally speaking, the ideal time to plant dormant grass seed is in late fall or early winter. This allows the seed to take advantage of the cool, moist conditions of the season and ensures that it will be ready to grow vigorously when spring arrives. Of course, there are a few factors to consider, such as the type of grass seed you are planting and the condition of your soil. For the best results, it may be wise to consult a lawn care professional in your area who can help you determine the optimal time to plant dormant grass seed for your particular situation.

Will Dormant Seed Germinate?

Dormant seeds, by definition, are not actively growing. They can potentially sit untouched for months or years until they are exposed to the right conditions that will stimulate their germination and growth. The question then arises – will dormant seed germinate? The answer is yes. While this process may take some time, given sufficient water, warmth, and light, almost all dormant seeds can and will germinate. However, it is important to note that some seeds have specific requirements or limitations, like requiring exposure to fire or requiring a specific temperature range for germination to occur. Careful research and consideration must be done before attempting to germinate dormant seeds to ensure the best possible outcome.


To achieve successful winter seeding of grass, cool-season grasses are best. Specifically, Kentucky Bluegrass, Fescue, and Perennial Ryegrass are top choices. It is best to avoid winter seeding of warm-season grasses, such as Bermuda and St. Augustine, as they do not respond well to this tactic. For optimal results when trying to grow grass from seed using the “snow seeding” technique, it is recommended to spread the seeds in late winter. This is because grass seed achieves a higher germination rate when spread in February or March, compared to early winter.