Overseeding Your Lawn Guide Tips

Overseeding is one of the best methods for filling in bare patches on your lawn. It is a carefully metered process of spreading new grass seed over an existing lawn. Though you shouldn’t confuse it with reseeding, which is the process of strategically spreading grass seed over a completely new area of soil to create turf.

If you have bare patches on your lawn, or you have areas that have started thinning even after you’ve dethatched your turf, you can use the following information to properly overseed your lawn.

What Are The Benefits of Overseeding?

If you do it correctly overseeding has several benefits and very few drawbacks. It helps to restore or fill in bare patches and thin spots. It can even be used early to address areas that you know are prone to thinning as the summer season goes on.

Overseeding also increases grass blade density for a lawn that looks better and also does a good job of blocking out weeds before they get a chance to establish a strong root base.

Overseeding can also help your lawn to better deal with drought, heat, diseases, pests, and other issues. Certain types of grass such as perennial ryegrass can be overseeded in the fall to help keep your lawn strong and healthy through the winter in southern climes.

When Is The Best Time To Overseed My Lawn?

Your regional climate will influence the best time of year to overseed your lawn. In northern states that see cold winters, the best time to overseed a lawn tends to be in late summer to early fall. In the fall the soil will still be warm enough to support germination, yet the regional temperatures aren’t too extreme for the tender new grass to get established before winter sets in.

The spring is also a good time to overseed, though you want to do so as early as possible to allow seedlings enough time to establish before the summer heat begins.

The Best Time To Overseed Cool-Season Grass

A lot of the cool-season grasses that grow in the northern US are most active in the spring and fall. This includes popular cool-season grasses like Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and fescues. It’s best to overseed these grasses in late summer or early fall, at least 45 days before the average first frost date for your area.

The Best Time To Overseed Warm-Season Grass

Warm-season grasses grow the most during the warm days of late spring and early summer. This includes popular warm-season grasses including Bermudagrass, Zoysia, centipede grass, and St. Augustine. It’s best to overseed these grasses in late spring or early summer when the soil temperature is between 70 and 90 degrees.

If you live in a warm, southern state, you might want to try overseeding cool-season ryegrass in fall to help your lawn to remain green throughout winter.

How Should I Overseed My Lawn?

Many lawns that suffer from drought, significant weed problems, and diseases that thin out their grass or cause bald spots will need to be overseeded at least once a year. Though most lawns will only need to be overseeded every few years. Just keep an eye on your lawn. Then you might need to be overseed if it starts looking patchy.

Step By Step Instructions For Overseeding Your Lawn

Successfully overseeding your lawn involves properly preparing the soil, strategically spreading the grass seed, and taking proper care of the new seedlings. This requires the following step-by-step approach.  

Supplies For Overseeding Your Lawn

  • Lawn mower
  • Rake
  • Fertilizer spreader
  • Grass seed
  • Enriched topsoil
  • Lawn starter fertilizer
  • Dethatching device

Step 1: Thoroughly Dethatch & Aerate

Dead, dry grass clippings need to be removed to allow the seed to have full contact with the soil and allow moisture to properly saturate the underlying turf layers. This starts with dethatching your lawn or the thinning area. You can then improve turf conditions with a tine or plug aerator.

Step 2: Cut The Grass Short

The day before you plan to overseed, cut your grass down to roughly an inch or shorter. The shorter blades of grass will give the new seeds better access to the soil underneath. Just make sure to bag or rake away the harvested grass clippings as you mow so they don’t get in the way of the grass seed making full contact with the soil!

Step 3: Rake The Area To Be Overseeded

Once you are done mowing the existing grass short, you should rake your yard to remove any loose grass clippings, fallen leaves, twigs, or other debris. This can also help loosen the turf soil to make it easier for new grass seeds to germinate and easily develop roots.

Step 4: Enrich The Topsoil

Create an enriched topsoil mixture consisting of nutrient-rich compost and standard soil to help the new grass grow quickly. You can then use a fertilizer spreader to add a quarter-inch-thick layer of topsoil.

Step 5: Evenly Spread The Grass Seed

Now is where we teach you how to plant grass seed. Evenly spread a similar type of grass seed to match your existing type of grass. You can do this with a fertilizer spreader and walk the spreader across your lawn in rows. Do your best to follow the same pattern you use when you mow and avoid excessive overlapping of the rows.

Step 6: Water Your Lawn Strategically

Grass seed and your existing grass need proper moisture to germinate and continue to grow. If you water too heavily, it can cause the seed to wash away. Especially in bare spots. Instead, try to water lightly multiple times per day. Your heaviest watering session comes before 10 am to keep the water from evaporating in the heat of the sun.

Step 8: Avoid Foot Traffic & Mowing

Grass seedlings are tender, and they do best when allowed to spread their roots deep into loose turf. So, it’s best to minimize traffic in the overseeded areas. Ideally, you want to wait until the new grass has grown 1 to 2 inches tall before mowing again. At that point, you can mow like you regularly wood for the season.

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