Tag Archives: Overseed

Overseeding – Cool Season Grass in the fall

BACKGROUND: Overseeding is the action of adding grass seed to an existing lawn. This may be considered by people for spots where bare areas show, or even better over the whole yard! Overseeding is a great way to improve the density of grass that has become thin while introducing new innovative grass that is likely more resistant to disease, drought, and bugs.

THE RULE (KIND OF): if 50% or more of you lawn is in good condition, overseeding can be a positive effort worth trying. If more than 50 percent of the area is in poor condition (weeds, dog spots, etc), you will want to consider a new lawn from sod or seed (bigger project).

NOTE: Pick seed that is appropriate for your lawn type and area. You probably want to make sure you are buying perennial not annual grass so that it comes back the next year. It will say right on the label of the bag.

Best Practices:

MOW LOW: We don’t typically advise this…. but because you are trying to grow grass from seed take into consideration that the seed will be competing with that existing (taller) grass and its nutrients (sunlight, water, fertilizer, etc). To give the seed a better chance MOW LOW in gradual steps. Normally, you should cut grass to a height of 3 to 3.5 inches. In this case, reduce that height to 1.5 to 2 inches. Also, bag or rake up the clippings in preparation for overseeding lawns, even if normally you do not. You want to give seeds the best chance of making good contact with the soil, and clippings would just get in the way.

RAKE TO LOOSEN SOIL: You will need good seed-to-soil contact for the new seed to germinate. Prepare areas by raking. Use a light touch, so you break up the soil surface without raking out the existing grass.

RAKE TO HELP SEED SOIL CONTACT: We recommend applying seed with a spreader to get more even coverage. Use the recommended rate for your selected seed when overseeding. Rake the area again lightly with an upside down rake after you overseed to improve the seed-to-soil contact.

APPLY STARTER FERTILIZER: apply a starter fertilizer for improved and faster results. We think going half application rate 2 weeks apart is a real pro move if you have the time.

WATER, WATER: The grass seed must be wet in order to germinate. The soil should be kept evenly moist, which may mean several water applications per day for a few weeks. Try not to over do the watering leading to flooding the area and making the seed move.

After the grass blades sprout, you’ll still need to water a couple of times per day and try to take it easy on the lawn for the first couple mows. Definitely don’t go heavy traffic, it will die. Keep up with your regular fertilizer applications and enjoy!

The best time for overseeding lawns that have cool-season grasses is in September in northern climates. You are looking for that not too hot, not going to frost too soon time frame.

How to Prepare for Effective Overseeding

Overseeding Lawn

Here at Lawn Serv, we get a lot of questions about overseeding–what is it? When is the best time to do it?  How does this change my strategy for applying nutrients, weed products, etc. throughout the season? Well, the answer is … it depends!  But, the good news is that overseeding is one of the best things you can do for your lawn to help improve the density of grass, fix bare spots, crowd out weeds, and keep your lawn healthy.  Read on to find out more!

What is “Overseeding”?

Overseeding is pretty simple.  It’s the process of laying down new grass seed to (mostly) already seeded areas of lawn.  Overseeding is ideal for thin lawns; if your lawn is mostly bare in spots, but generally in good shape, you may want to consider a seeding program that is more focused on those spots.

When should I overseed my lawn?

Fall is generally the best time to introduce new seed to your lawn, particularly in cool grass areas (think roughly the top half of the U.S., where cool season grasses are most prevalent). While there are also benefits to overseeding in the Spring, this tends to be a “pickier” time to do it.  If you seed too early in the Spring, late freezes and frosts–and snow!–can still hurt your seed’s chances of germinating. If you seed too late in the Spring, your grass may not have enough time to develop deep enough roots to survive the summer’s heat.

What should I do before Overseeding?

How to prep for seeding

In general, you cannot just open the bag of seed and throw it down!  The sun will cook your seed, the wind will take it away (if the birds don’t!), and the seed is unlikely to make the contact with the soil that it needs to sprout healthy roots.

One of the best things you can do to prepare for overseeding is aeration.  This involves pulling small cores of soil from your lawn using an aeration machine.  There are manual aeration devices (ever seen those spikey shoes that you strap on?), but we don’t recommend these–they’re a lot of work, and might actually compress the soil more!  Aerators can generally be rented at your local hardware or rental store and are very effective.

By aerating your lawn, you’re allowing water, air, nutrients, fertilizer and seed to reach deeper down into the soil ecosystem, providing a much greater environment for your grass to grow deep, healthy roots. In particular, aeration greatly improves the soil-to-seed contact that will allow the best chance at seed germination and seedling growth.

Wait, why should I overseed again?

In addition to promoting a more dense, beautiful lawn, overseeding also introduces new and improved types of grass to your yard.  This diversity protects your lawn from disease, bugs and drought, and generally improves your lawn’s ability to resist the harsh stresses of summer!

But, in order to do all of this, you need to make sure you’re applying the highest-quality grass seed, as well as addressing any underlying challenges that your lawn may be facing.  The best way to do this? A Lawn Serv subscription, of course! Our plans are all tailored specifically to your lawn by using the most advanced soil testing available. And, we work directly with some of the leading grass seed suppliers–including those that supply professional sod farms with their seed!–so we can offer our customers the highest quality seed and best advice along the way.

As always, feel free to reach out with any questions–we’re here to help along the way!

Lawn Serv

Should I Aerate My Lawn? Should I De-Thatch? What About Overseeding?

We often have customers reach out to ask whether they should tackle any of these complex-sounding lawn procedures.  Does my lawn need to be aerated?  When should I dethatch my lawn?  How do I overseed…if I need to?

Great questions!

The good news is that these are actually much more straightforward than they seem.  And, we’re here to help along the entire way!

Read on for an overview of the benefits of aeration, dethatching and overseeding, as well as one of our favorite videos highlighting some of the key steps.

And, as always, feel free to get in touch  anytime with questions!

Machine Dethatching vs Rake
Check out Lawn Serv’s DIY Lawn Care Subscription Box NOW!

FIRST:  WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF LAWN AERATION, DE-THATCHING, AND OVERSEEDING?

  1. Aeration loosens compacted soil. Loose soil allows grass roots to plunge deeper into the soil, providing better access to vital water resources, particularly during times of stress (hot sun!).
  2. Aeration (and de-thatching!) reduces thatch. Thatch is basically grass stems and roots that accumulate faster than they breakdown. Excessive thatch creates an environment that pests and diseases love!
  3. Aeration opens access to the root zone. This allows much better circulation of air, moisture and food to the root zone, where nutrients are absorbed.
  4. Aeration yields greater seed germination. Aeration holes (from “core aeration”) provide a great little spot for seeds to settle and germinate.
  5. Overseeding introduces new grass variety and thickens existing turf. By diversifying your grass plants over time, you’re protecting against disease, drought, and pests. And, overseeding increases grass density, filling in bare spots, and crowding out weeds and pests!
  6. Overseeding builds resistance to disease. By incorporating different blends of grass seed, you reduce your risk to diseases that can wipe out the entire lawn.
  7. Aeration and overseeding will help to reduce weeds. Opportunistic weeds germinate in areas where they can be successful. Crabgrass grows in thin areas, nutsedge pops up in thin/low spots, and broadleaf weeds spread where there is little desirable grass. The best defense is to have a thick lawn.
  8. Aeration and overseeding will give your lawn an immediate, beautiful boost! If your lawn was attacked by fungus, insects, or animals this year a core aeration and overseeding will help. You’ll be able to see seed germination in 7-10 days.

AERATION, DETHATCHING, AND OVERSEEDING EXAMPLE: IN THIS VIDEO, THIS OLD HOUSE LANDSCAPE CONTRACTOR ROGER COOK BREATHES NEW LIFE INTO AN OLD LAWN.

Lawn Renovation Steps:
1. Put on hearing protection and mow the lawn to a height of 1½ inch. Be sure to collect the grass clippings.
2. Run a de-thatcher across the entire lawn to remove dead plant matter.
3. Use a leaf rake to collect and remove all the thatch pulled from the lawn.
4. Run a gas-powered core aerator across the lawn.
5. Rake up and remove the soil plugs extracted by the aerator.
6. Spread compost over the lawn and rake it down into the holes.
7. Analyze the physical structure of the soil with a soil test kit; amend the soil as necessary.
8. Use a broadcast spreader to over-seed the lawn with new grass seed. Adjust the spreader to dispense seven pounds of seed per 1,000 square feet area.
9. Use backside of leaf rake to lightly work the grass seed into the lawn.
10. Lightly water twice a day to keep the lawn damp, not soaking wet.

Quick video on Dethatching, Aeration, and Seeding