Lawns play an important role when it comes to recreational purposes. The spaces can be of use for aesthetics and gardens. The grass that made up the floor of this is the most significant component of the place. But, it requires regular maintenance.
Lawn owners usually overseed their grasses to rejuvenate their lawns. Doing so consists of spreading the seeds on top of the lawn, watering the seeds, applying fertilizers, and providing it with sunlight and air access.
Overseeding involves several methods and proper equipment. In this article, we’ll be tackling the definition, benefits, steps, time, and procedures of overseeding. We will also provide tips to choose the right type of seeds.
What Is Overseeding?
Overseeding is the process of planting grass seeds on top of a lawn to restore the shabbiness of the grass, which can be caused by changes in the weather, damages by insects, and regular usage of the lawn. More precisely, overseeding aims to grow the dead grasses and brings back the life of a green lawn.
A new lawn bears lush and healthy grass laying flat on the ground of a yard, but the grasses that made up the lawn will wear out over time. This is a common problem encountered by lawn owners as it causes a great disaster to the supposed-to-be good aesthetic of their yards.
Sometimes you can notice diminishing brown grasses on some lawns. Aside from damages suffered due to regular use, such appearance means these grasses are old. Besides, such grasses will start to reduce the plants it reproduces as they grow mature. Thus, fix these drawbacks by growing grass seeds on the lawn again.
Some lawn owners don’t know that this method exists, hence why they usually proceed to replant the turf of the lawn, which requires hefty loads of work. But with overseeding, you don’t need to change anything in your lawn and then proceed to lay grass seeds on it.
A brown or yellowish lawn is definitely not a sight to see, some may even consider it dead. The good thing is, there are a lot of things that you can do to revive your lawn and make the grass green again. If you want to have your lush and green lawn back, here are our tips to bring dead grass back to life.
5 Benefits of Overseeding Your Lawn
Overseeding is not only limited to the maintenance of the damaged and old grasses. The process also focuses on the enhancement of the grasses to make them strong and thick enough to resist pests. This also helps prevent erosion and plant diseases without using synthetic chemicals.
1. It bolsters grass-soil connection
Erosion is a natural geological activity that can damage the grasses in your lawn, in which case lawn owners should find a way to strengthen the hold of the plants. The robust and many vivid roots of the grass are essential and help reduce the possibility of erosion in a certain situation.
Overseeding helps the grasses on the lawn sustain their health and structure. They will be strong even when erosion strikes.
2. It polishes your lawn façade
The grasses on the lawn are thinning and damaged. This situation makes the appearance of your lawn less lively and bright. However, the overseeding method will extend rehabilitation to revitalize your yard. Emphasize the process on parts where the grasses wear out so that they grow back thick and green. The thickness of the grass can endure the continuous usage of the lawn. It will also reduce the damage risks of the grass.
There are still steps you need to follow before spreading seeds on your lawn, such as watering, raking, and more. However, note that overseeding won’t be effective if you lack continuous care for the seeds you planted.
3. It makes lawns healthier
Lawns are vulnerable to pests and pets. The damages they cause could lead to weak immunity and result to plant diseases. Although, employing the overseeding process can help the grasses overcome this problem. It can indeed lessen their fragility and make the grasses grow healthier than before.
Bear in mind that the effect of the overseeding method does not linger for a lengthy period. You will be required to nurture it based on the grass seeds you plant. It’s best to choose seeds that require less watering as they can combat diseases.
4. It repairs lawns in a natural way
Overseeding helps you avoid using chemicals that can harm the grasses. Indeed, although some synthetic substances are used to grow the grass on your lawn, doing it naturally remains the most ideal practice as artificial fertilizers and pesticides are not necessary to incorporate on the grasses.
Several news reports state that chemical use can poison the near communities because if the toxic washes away, it can contaminate the waterways.
5. It is cheaper than other methods
Replanting the turf requires several tools, which means that it will be a hassle on your part. On the other hand, overseeding can reduce your expenses on tools as seeds and sustained methods are the only required equipment for this process.
When to Overseed?
The ideal condition for seed germination is during early fall or late summer. During these periods, the temperature of the soil is moderate. It’s ideal for the proper growth of the grass before the cold stage of the season comes in. Weeds won’t disturb the development of grass.
Weeds are the common enemy of plants when it comes to absorbing nutrients and water. They are also plants, although they grew in the wrong location. These weeds are disastrous as they get the intended supplements for the grass.
Most types of weeds are in their vulnerable state when fall enters. Therefore, it is the perfect time to control and kill them. These weeds are broadleaf weeds comprised of dandelions, clovers, chickweed, and many others.
Temperatures and warm soils help in seed germination, while a chilly breeze contributes to the growth of grass.
Are Other Seasons Not Ideal for Overseeding?
Other seasons are not as recommended to grow grass seeds because if the temperature is hot or cold, the weather is too heavy and unpredictable.
During this period, expect the pouring of spring rains while exhibiting irregular temperatures. It will also be difficult to apply pre-emergent herbicides at this time of the year.
Herbicides can have negatives effects on the germination of grass seeds, but spring overseeding is still possible. Simply ensure that you observe the right overseeding procedures. The application process of herbicides is not less than 4 weeks of grass germination.
The temperature emerging in this season is hot, which causes stress to the plants, thus posing a huge risk for them to catch a disease. Plants do need water to complete the growth process, but it’s not ideal to pour a huge amount of water to combat the heat either.
However, overseeding during mid-summer is still possible if you maintain and practice the proper watering procedures and weed control.
Grasses that are appropriate to grow in this season are “winter” grass. This type of grass is suitable for Northern places as the temperature there is cold. One of the best examples of this kind is Kentucky bluegrass.
Winter grasses do not need temperatures as warm as others. Besides, snow coverings can slow down the germination of seeds. The idea is to gear up the growth activity of the grass in the incoming season.
How to Overseed Your Lawn?
Before overseeding your lawn, make sure to shorten the existing grass. Also, improve the soil by using amendments and choose the appropriate seeds for your lawn. After spreading the seeds, put phosphorus-free fertilizer and keep the soil moist.
1. Cut existing grasses
Cut your lawn with mow to make the tall existing grasses short to give open access to the seeds if you start to spread them. Rake them after you take out the grass cuttings and place them in a bag. The process helps the seeds establish roots while also preventing the interruption of grass clippings to seed development.
2. Observe soil amendments
Soil amendments are for the soil to enhance the plant’s condition and fertility. These amendments have two categories — organic and inorganic. Organic amendments comprise compost, manure, grass clippings, and more, according to Colorado State University-Extension. Meanwhile, inorganic amendments consist of perlite, tire chunks, pea gravel, sand, and vermiculite.
3. Use appropriate seeds
Use the grass seeds appropriate to the grass on your lawn. Note that you can also mix the seeds with the same grass type. These grasses are either warm or cool type, based on when you plan to plant them.
Always ask for advice from someone who knows how to identify the grass type in your lawn. In that way, you can apply the correct overseeding procedures.
4. Spread seeds
Start spreading the grass seeds in two ways, depending on the size of the area. You can do manual spreading if you have a small lawn and lawn spreader for large-sized lawns. Spreaders lay out the seeds to the floor of the lawn, but avoid applying them when the air blows strong.
5. Apply fertilizer
Apply fertilizer on the overseeded spots. Pre-emergent herbicides can hamper the germination of grass seeds. This chemical is used to avoid the growth of weeds but can also hamper the germination of grass seeds.
Phosphorous, an ingredient of fertilizers, can stimulate plant growth. Its only drawback arises is if this component sweeps to cause water pollution. The chemical may direct to the rivers, canals, lakes, and any natural water sources.
Thus, if possible, you should avoid these kinds of products. Besides, some fertilizers are not allowed in many places. In the end, it is best to consult the nearest local county extension office about their use.
6. Take care of the seeds
Oversee the growth of the grass seeds by watering the soil to keep it moist. On the first four days, sprinkle water into the seeds twice a day, and add more amount on the fifth day.
When you overseed your lawn, the first thing that you have to do is mow the existing grass to make room for the seeds that you are about to spread. Mowing the lawn will leave you with grass clippings. The question is, should you bag or mulch after overseeding? Read our article to find out.
Methods Used for Soil Preparation and Overseeding Lawns
Preparing the soil before you apply overseeding is crucial. Doing so will allow the absorption of the air, water, and nutrients into the seeds. Core aeration removes the soil and grass plugs, as well as making holes in them. Dethatching is a step where the dethatcher pulls the grass and thatch.
Preparing Soil and Grass for Overseeding
Overseeding involves cutting and removing the clippings from the lawn. To prepare the soil and grass, make sure they are either two inches taller or shorter. Take out the clippings and put them in a bag as they can hinder the connection of roots to the soil.
Rake the lawn if there are still grass clippings left after mowing. This equipment can open the access of the soil to the seeds as it scrapes the exterior parts. This method helps to show the bare surface of the soil. Seeds will have easy contact if there is soil exposure.
Core aeration refers to the removal of an aeration plug made of grass and soil with the use of aerators. The machine makes holes in the lawn to give access to the absorption of the water, nutrients, and air on the grassroots. The strategy helps grow strong thick grass that can give off a lively atmosphere on your lawn.
This method is performed to prepare the soil before overseeding. The grass and soil compress as the roots establish their union as they grow old. The condition can inhibit the fast growth of the seeds as it prevents water and other elements to sink in.
Using an aerator will pull out plugs of soil and grass spreading to your lawn. You can leave these plugs on the ground as they will break down in a couple of weeks.
If your lawn contains a thick layer of thatch, a rake can help remove these, although it will be tiring to do on your own. This is where the dethatcher comes in. This mechanical equipment has metal blades and tines used to pass on the surface of the lawn.
Dethatchers are more efficient if you put a weight on top of their trays. You can also make self-made bags for the load. The design of the gear’s structure is to connect on a ride-on lawnmower.
The process of dethatching doesn’t only remove thin layers of thatch, but can also pull out the existing grass left on the lawn. The effect of this can withdraw the deep roots of the grass, but the purpose of this method is only to remove the grass clippings after mowing. This sounds forced, but the grasses are not mutilated while doing this.
Removing the thatch will allow water, air, and nutrients to help with the development of seeds.
Choosing the Right Seeds
Identify the grass on your lawn and find the well-suited seeds for overseeding. As previously mentioned, there are two types of grasses — for the cool and warm seasons. Kentucky bluegrass and fine fescue fall under the warm category. Meanwhile, Bermuda grass, St. Augustine grass, and more are for the warm season.
Thus, you must use appropriate seeds based on the temperature and climate of your place. Using the right seeds will favor the grasses’ smooth growing process.
1. Tall Fescue
Tall fescues bear tall and thick blades and are sometimes mistaken for crabgrass. This type of grass is for lawns.
When overseeding tall fescue lawns, avoid using coarse tall fescue, such as Kentucky 31. This seed is not compatible with tall fescue grasses as they have bigger features. The grass develops tall fescues adapted to livestock pasture grass. Thus, be careful in choosing only the specific tall fescue.
You can also mix some seeds with tall fescues, such as bluegrass seeds. For instance, Kentucky bluegrass seeds were always mixed on different seeds found on the market. This kind of grass is vulnerable to plant diseases and is also incapable of constant fertilization.
2. Fine Fescue
Fine fescue is a standard-sized turf grass that contains thin and shortleaf blades. It cannot endure too much sun exposure, which is why it is an ideal plant in places with cool temperatures and weather.
Fine fescues are also known as shade grasses on the market because of their limited capacity to tolerate warm temperatures. Indeed, shade grasses can only survive in the shade. Therefore, it’s not ideal to overseed full fine fescue seeds on your lawn.
3. Bluegrass Seeds
Bluegrass is a perennial grass that escalates with its underground stems. This root type of stems is rhizomes, which is why its characteristics are soft with dark green leaves. If you plan to grow bluegrass on your lawn, note that you should fertilize it rarely. Also, remember that some bluegrass seeds produced need keen fertilization and maintenance.
Ryegrass comes in two categories: annual and perennial. Annual ryegrass has a narrow and shiny leaf blade, while perennial has about two feet of grass leaves with long rigid leaves growing on the bottom part. These grass seeds are generally combined with other seeds for fast germination ability. You should note that annual ryegrass only lasts a year while perennials can live longer.
5. Warm and Cold Season Grasses
As previously mentioned, grass types fall under two categories: the cool and warm seasons. Avoid using Kentucky 31 and coarse fescue when overseeding cool-season grasses. As for warm-season grass, don’t combine it with cool-season types as they will contradict each other on climate resistance.
How Many Seeds Should You Apply?
The amount of seeds needed to apply when overseeding depends on the size and thickness of your lawn. If you have a thick, 100-square-foot lawn, apply a range of 2 to 4 lbs. of seeds. Meanwhile, lawns with dirt quarters will require about 4 to 8 lbs. while full overseeding requires a max of 12 lbs.
Gold course lawns require between 15 to 30 lbs. of seeds. This type of lawn should undergo regular nurturing. Preservation of the grasses is salient as people come to frequently use them.
Before you follow the quantity mentioned above, it’s best to measure the size of your lawn. Some suggest that you should add more seeds intended for a certain lawn size, but we can’t make sure of the fair distribution of maintenance we can exhibit to the seeds we spread on the lawn.
Imagine if you spread more than the preferred amount of seeds on the lawn. The number of seeds will then be needing enough and fair distribution of water, air, and fertilizer. The mistake and problem will follow if you are unable to provide your lawn with the requirements for its growth. If that happens, your grasses will either catch diseases or develop a weak structure.
How to Maintain Your Yard After Overseeding
There are still regular maintenance operations you should perform after overseeding, like sprinkling water on the soil for germination. Besides, most grasses need some shade to grow the seeds. Also, don’t forget the element that gives nutrients: fertilizer.
Sustain watering the seeds
Grass seeds need moisture to complete the process of germination, which is why watering your plants is crucial, but you should follow the recommended amount. Aside from germination, water is one of the essential requirements for photosynthesis.
What will happen to your plants if they lack water? They will wilt.
A moderate sprinkle of water three times daily is the required amount of water for germination. Be careful not to flood the seeds while watering them. When the seeds are budding, you should lessen the water applied daily.
Cover the seeds
The current grass in your lawn needs shade during the overseeding process. The exact procedure to observe in this task is to rake the lawn to cover the seeds with thin soil. Make sure that you don’t completely conceal the seeds under the soil.
Apply the compost to the soil first if you intend to put some. After that, spread the seeds and rake the compost to cover the seeds with a thin layer.
Fertilize your seeds with the necessary amount. Some types of soils need different types of fertilizers. The most commonly used fertilizers are those that contain phosphorus, but this element is dangerous and prohibited in several places due to the toxicity it can bring to the waterways.
Some fertilizers are low in phosphorus or are phosphorus-free, thus making them a good choice to use in your lawn. Indeed, it’s better to avoid or reduce the usage of such elements to prevent the increase in water pollution. The water in the area can expose humans to dangers due to poison.
Clovers were once considered as one of the most helpful standard ingredients when it comes to grass seed mixes. But through the years, and with the introduction of petrochemical-based weed killers, clovers have been dubbed as another classic “weed” that homeowners remove from their garden. But, are clovers bad for you garden? Read our article to find out.
Tips on How to Overseed
Remember to cut the grass short and avoid trimming it completely. Also, avoid burying the seeds too deep under the soil when covering them. Ensure you don’t apply herbicides as they can affect the seeds during the process. You should use starter fertilizer when growing the early seeds.
Cut the old grass short
Don’t completely shave your lawn with a mower. This is the first step you should follow before spreading the seeds. Making the old grass shorter will allow the contact of seeds to the soil. It will also give way to the water and nutrients needed for the seeds to grow.
If you don’t cut the existing grass on your lawn, it will obstruct the germination of the seeds. The scientific process of seeds is incomplete without its contact with the soil.
Don’t cover the seeds
Part of the overseeding maintenance includes covering the seeds with soil. This method aims to grant access not only to essential nutrients and water, but also sunlight. But, make sure to avoid burying the seeds too deep.
Be careful of weed control chemicals
Some pre-emergent herbicides are applied to avoid the development of weeds. They usually grow on the location of the grass, but the said chemical can prevent the development of new grass. There are techniques you should follow for the optimal effects of herbicides. Be sure to avoid applying them on or before the overseeding process.
Use Starter Fertilizer
Starter fertilizers contribute nutrients needed near the roots of the grass. This kind of fertilizer can enhance seeds’ growth without a problem. Do so while overseeding, and supplement another round for fertilizer after three weeks.
Maintaining and keeping your lawn lush and green can be pretty challenging, especially because there are a lot of factors that can affect the health of your lawn, such as extreme weather conditions, plant diseases, and regular use by people and pets. If you see that your grass is no longer in excellent condition, your yard is probably in need of overseeding.
Overseeding considers many methods and strategies for successful grass growth. In some instances, the application of the steps are a bit complicated, but following them can ensure the efficient development of your seeds. Just take your time to review the information that we shared on this article so that you will be confident once you begin the overseeding process.
The most salient goal of overseeding is to rejuvenate and restore the damages of the lawn’s grasses. Also, while doing so, avoid the excessive application of fertilizers and water as it could result in the development of plant diseases or weaken the structure of the grass. As long as you remember the tips that we shared in this article, you are one step closer to restoring your yard to its former glory.