If you’ve recently put grass seed and it hasn’t sprouted due to the cold weather, don’t be concerned. Your seeds may have caught the chilly weather and gone dormant. However, this could throw out your timing if this frost hasn’t hit in early spring, yet it is hitting you as a late spring frost.
Grass seeds could withstand frost and germinate once the weather gets warmer, yet these swings in temperature are one way that cold weather can affect your grass seed. Temperature swings that go from cold to warm several times in a short span can leave you with poor germination rates.
In our guide, you can learn more about grass seed and frost. By the end, you’ll see various ways you can carry out lawn care to give your new grass seeds the best chance of germination. Using these tips, you should have a fantastic lawn come the early summer. (Learn How Long Should I Keep My Dog Off New Sod)
Will Frost Kill Grass Seed?
Grass seeds can survive a frost, freezing temperatures, and even drought.
In cold temperatures, frozen seeds remain dormant, especially if you pick one of the best dormant grass seed options.
They’ll be dormant in your lawn till the weather warms
Don’t panic if you’ve recently seeded your lawn and notice an unexpected cold spell in the forecast as your seeds will wait.
While seeds may withstand frost, young grass seedlings are extremely vulnerable to cold temperatures.
Can You Plant Grass Seed Before a Frost?
Seed your lawn at least 6 weeks before any forecasted frost. This allows your grass seedlings a chance to develop the deep roots needed to withstand the cold until soil temperatures are above 60℉.
This is because young grass seedlings are easily killed by freezing temperatures, and the first frost date could catch you out.
If you wait too long and your seedlings are just coming up when the first frost arrives, much of your new grass will die unless you follow the methods used here to protect your grass.
A hard frost (at least four hours of 25° F) that freezes the upper layer of soil may prevent seedlings of water and nutrients, resulting in the death of your new grass.
Here are a few ways to deal with the frost.
If you have new grass in your yard and a hard freeze is on the way, keep these tips in mind to keep your grass alive and well:
1. Water Your Lawn
It may seem counterintuitive to water your lawn before a cold spell, but it will actually help the soil avoid freezing.
When the temperature drops, the presence of water in the soil will help to retain heat and make the possibility of the ground freezing solid. For the best results, water your lawn in the evening so you can protect your new grass overnight.
If your watering system has the potential to be programmed, set it to water for half an hour every three hours overnight.
Water from your tap is usually at least 20 degrees warm water than it is at room temperature. Therefore, you can help prevent frost formation by providing warm water at night, which is one way to protect young grass from frost damage.
2. Cover Seedlings
Because new grass can be damaged by freezing ground, helping your ground maintain heat during cold nights is another great way to protect grass sprouts.
In the evening, cover your new grass seed. Tarps or linen that has been weighted with a stone or scrap timber can be used.
Even a thin layer of black plastic tarp will help keep warm air near the ground and prevent grass seed freezing, which will injure the roots.
Remove the tarp come morning to allow the grass to breathe and get sunlight. (Learn How To Keep Raccoons From Climbing Downspouts)
3. Avoid Walking on Your Lawn
Foot or vehicle traffic ruins frosted grass and kills it. In addition, the strain on frosted grass causes frozen water molecules to break through plant cell walls, harming the grass blades.
People and animals should not walk on your lawn until the frost thaws.
Does Grass Seed Grow After First Frost?
New seed works on a simple biological mechanism: they sprout if warmer temperatures sit above a specified point for a few days. This can happen anytime, including right after the first frost.
- Cool-season grasses sprout with temperatures from 50 to 70℉.
- Warm-season grasses sprout with temperatures above 70℉.
Grass seeds will sprout if temperatures reach the “sprouting point” and stay there for 2–3 days. This can happen after the first frost.
Because the first frost will be frequently accompanied by alternating cool and warm spells as the weather swings from one season to the next, it’s not uncommon for grass seeds to emerge after a first frost or for a late-spring cold snap to injure young grass seedlings.
Following a fall frost, grass seedlings are extremely vulnerable to repeated frosts—cold snaps kill young grass.
4. Use Organic Mulch
If you’ve planted your new grass seed at the right time of year, the ground temperature will be far above freezing.
You can take advantage of this by spreading a layer of peat moss over your immature grass seedlings to help trap the heat.
When planting seeds, many people use a 1/4-inch layer of peat moss. However, applying a little more isn’t a bad idea if there is a heavy frost in the air.
You can achieve the same effect using straw; just make sure it’s straw rather than hay. Hay contains seeds, which can cause oats or weeds to grow in your fresh grass.
Move Potted Plants Indoors
To protect potted plants, bring them inside overnight. Then, be sure to return them outside in the morning so they may enjoy the sun.
If bringing them inside isn’t possible, cover them from stiff wind and keep them near so they can protect each other.
Bringing your plants home when frost is likely will start you thinking about other things to protect.
Fertilize Before the First Frost
Before the first forecasted frost, apply fertilizer. Late October is ideal.
The last fertilization of the year will help grass seed survive a frost through the toughest times until the spring.
Don’t Cut Your Grass
You should also avoid cutting your grass in the winter. Long blades should be present on whatever grass you have so that it can take more nutrients.
If you mow your grass, it will be more susceptible to frost.
Does Straw Protect Grass Seed from Frost?
Many people use straw to protect their new grass from frost, but is this adequate against frost?
A simple, thin layer of pine straw is an excellent place to start, but more protection may be needed. Burlap or linen are frequently used. (Read What Is 19-19-19 Fertilizer Used For)
Plastic is the last thing you want to use because it can absorb moisture.
Steps To Protect Grass Seedlings From Frost
Keep Lawns Hydrated
Watering your lawn before frost occurs may seem counterintuitive, but it will help the soil’s resistance to cold and freezing weather.
Water in the soil will help retain heat and lessen the chances your grass freezes. For best results, irrigate your garden in the evening so you can protect grass overnight.
If your watering system has a timer, program it to run for half an hour every three hours for many nights.
The water from your faucet is usually at least 20 degrees. By giving warm water at night, you can help avoid frosted grass. This is one of the most efficient strategies for preventing frost damage to new grass.
Keep Seedlings Covered
Because freezing ground can kill new grass, assisting your ground level in preserving heat during frigid nights is another excellent way to protect your grass sprouts.
In the evening, cover the grass in your garden. Tarps or linen that has been weighted with a stone or scrap timber can be used.
A thin layer of the black plastic tarp will keep warm air close to the ground and protect your new grass from frost damage.
Remove the tarp in the morning to allow your grass to breathe and get some much-needed sunlight.
Keep Traffic Off Grass
Vehicle traffic and your foot are two of the most harmful things to icy grass.
Walking or driving on young, icy grass can cause damage. The grass blades are severely injured because the force on iced grass causes frozen water molecules to rip through plant cell walls.
To protect new grass from frost, don’t let humans or animals walk on it until the frost has melted.
Protect Your Pipes
During cold weather or a freeze, the first important thing you should do is protect your pipes. It’s a straightforward activity that will save you money over time.
Turn off the water to your outdoor spigots and disconnect your hoses. Exposed faucets and taps should be covered with towels or blankets. (Learn How Long Can Spider Mites Live Without Food)
To protect the pipes that lead to indoor plumbing, leave a light trickle of water flowing overnight. Then, when you wake up, the last thing you want to discover is that your pipes have burst. Besides this, if you have frozen pipes, you can’t save your new grass from frost as you can’t water it.