Can Grass Seed Be Planted in Winter in Canada?

Snow covered grass in winter

Living in Canada, you may already be wishing for spring and some warmer days. And with the thought of spring on your mind, you may also wonder if grass seed can be planted in the winter. Well, planting grass seed in winter is not only possible in the Great White North, but it could also give you that lush, green lawn you’ve been waiting for.

Table of Contents:

What Is Dormant Seeding?

The process of planting grass seed in winter is called dormant seeding. The grass seeds will lie dormant until the ground heats up to 13 degrees Celsius and stays at that temperature for a prolonged period (usually a few weeks).

When the ground stays warm for enough time, the seeds will open, take root, and grow, making their way up to the soil surface to create the beautiful spring lawn you have been dreaming of.

You may be wondering: Can grass seeds freeze in winter? Good question. Seeds may seem small and vulnerable, but they are hardy enough to withstand Canada’s cold weather. In fact, grass seeds can survive freezing and still live to grow another day.

Why Seed in Winter?

Grass seeds growing in soil in the winter

In Canada, it’s much more common to put down grass seed in mid-August to early September to grow a gorgeous fall lawn. But what if you want a beautiful spring lawn? You don’t need a reminder that the winters tend to last a long time up here. If you wait until the weather warms to plant your grass seeds, you might miss a significant portion of the spring season.

Dormant seeding addresses this problem. When you plant grass seed for winter, the seeds will begin germinating (growing) as soon as the weather warms. That means your lush spring lawn will grow more quickly, and you’ll be able to enjoy it longer.

What Are the Benefits of Dormant Seeding?

You might not be excited about the prospect of tromping around in cold weather and snow to plant grass seed. However, while dormant seeding can take a little extra work, many homeowners find that it’s worth the effort. The following are a few reasons you might want to set aside some grass seed for winter.

Less Competition from Weeds:

When you plant your grass seeds in the fall, the newly germinated grass must compete with existing plants for water, oxygen, nutrition, and sunlight. As you probably know, weeds such as dandelions, crabgrass, and Canada thistle are stubborn and strong. They can easily outcompete young grass shoots. In the winter, these weeds aren’t growing and competing for resources.

More Time to Root:

Dormant seeding gives your grass seeds more time to establish roots and grow when the soil starts to warm. This extra time can help improve the survival rates of your grass and give them a leg up on weeds that might also begin coming back to life in the spring.

Less Water Required:

New grass seeds are hungry for water, especially if your part of Canada experiences an extra dry or hot fall season. You may need to water your fall grass seeds regularly, jacking up your water bill. Winter grass seeds require far less water. Plus, melting snow will moisten your soil, giving your winter grass seed plenty of H2O, without adding to your water bill.

More Flexibility:

When planting grass seed in the fall, you have a relatively short window (only a few weeks) to get your seeds in the ground. If you miss that window, your seeds could struggle to germinate and thrive. That’s not the case with dormant seeding. You can plant your grass seeds at any time during the winter season.

Remember, the seeds will naturally go dormant until the weather conditions become more favorable. That means you have all of December, January, and February to put your seeds in the ground.

Guidance for Planting Grass Seed in Winter

Grass seeds planted in soil in the winter in Canada

Since we’ve established that it’s not only possible but also quite beneficial to plant grass seed in winter, let’s review the best ways to do it. Implementing the following tips on how to plant grass seed in winter will help ensure your seeds will survive and thrive until spring.

Best Grass Seed to Plant in Winter

As you know, there are many different types of grass seeds, but not all will do well when planted during the winter. So, what is the best grass seed to plant in the winter? Some types of grass that fare well during the winter months are Kentucky bluegrass, improved tall fescue, perennial ryegrass, and velvet bentgrass. In addition to choosing the right type of grass seed to plant this winter, there are some other steps you’ll need to take to ensure a healthy, vibrant spring lawn. Here are the things you’ll need to do:

Proper Soil Prep:

Before planting grass seed in the winter, you should aerate your soil. However, depending on how harsh the weather in your region has been, this process may have to wait until you get a few warmer days. Aeration breaks the soil’s top layer so air can flow freely beyond the surface. The process also helps remove some of the debris that could otherwise hinder plant growth. While it is best to aerate with a unique, spiky tool called an aerator, you can also use a rake to break up the soil’s surface before spreading your seed.

If you have snow on the ground right now, you may be wondering if you can plant grass seed in wet soil. Yes, you can. In fact, wet or moist soil is the ideal environment for growing seedlings. So, even if there is snow on the ground, you can spread grass seed on top. As the snow melts, the seeds will make their way into the moist soil and have a good base for growing.

Broadcasting Seed:

Broadcasting seed doesn’t mean telling all your neighbours that you have just planted your spring lawn. Broadcasting is the method by which the grass seeds are scattered across a specific area, either by hand or with a spreader. It’s best to spread the seeds thinly over the area, aiming for furrows in the soil. Broadcasting seed is faster than row planting seeds and is the best method for planting grass seed in the winter.


After seeding, consider taking the time to do it again. Broadcasting seeds over the same areas you seeded earlier is called overseeding, and it can fill in bare spots and help to produce a nice, thick lawn. Once overseeding is complete, water your lawn thoroughly and refrain from watering again until the spring. If the temperatures are lower in your region and watering is not an option, don’t worry. The soil should remain moist throughout most of the winter, so watering immediately after overseeding may not be necessary.

Delay Herbicide Use:

Avoid using an herbicide on your lawn until about four months after seeding the area. This helps ensure the grass you planted is established enough to handle a reaction to the herbicide. Unfortunately, even the gentlest or most targeted herbicides can affect young seedlings, so following this guideline is essential to maintaining the health of your new seed. Generally, early spring is the best time to apply an herbicide. It’s also important to note that incorrectly applying it could cause dead patches in your lawn. So, make sure you follow the application instructions carefully before using.

Are You Ready to Dormant Seed Your Lawn This Winter?

Planting grass seed in the winter in Canada is totally doable and highly recommended for cultivating a lush spring lawn. If you have questions about seed planting or any other aspect of lawn care, contact The Grounds Guys® nearest you for help.

Our experts know what it takes to maintain a beautiful lawn and landscaping all year long. We offer an extensive range of lawn care and landscape services and are happy to provide free estimates. Additionally, all of our work is backed by the Neighbourly Done Right Promise™, which guarantees your satisfaction. So, contact us today, and let us help transform your lawn and property into something beautiful!