Grass plants gradually slow their reproduction rate over a few years, resulting in thin and unhealthy looking lawns. These thinner lawns invite weed infestation in addition to not looking good. Some lawns are seasonal, such as warm season St. Augustinegrass & Bermudagrass, which goes dormant in winter. In order to keep it green, you need to overseed with a cool season grass at that right time for winter lawn green grass.

Whether you’re reseeding a warm or cool seasonal lawn or just reseeding your year-round lawn, such as a cool season fescue lawn that needs to be replenished, Hydro-Scape has the solution for you.

Overseeding is just about as important a part of lawn maintenance as fertilizing. Obviously, the larger the lawn, the more time it takes to overseed. While it can take a lot of time, the results are worth it. There are three stages to overseeding – Dethatching & Loosening, Preparing the Soil and Spreading & Nurturing the Seed. In this handy guide, we’ll walk you through it all.

See Hydro-Scape’s grass seed guide

Dethatching and Loosening

The perfect time to overseed is now – September, just before winter, through October. The second best time if you can’t overseed in September, is early spring. The first thing you do to overseed is mow your lawn and mow it short – to a height of one to one and a half inches. This serves two purposes:

Established grass and weeds won’t compete for sunlight with the seeds at this height.
 The seeds are less likely to be trapped in taller grass, allowing them to reach the soil and germinate.

Once you’ve mowed, it time to rake up the grass clippings and dethatch. Thatch is mostly-dead organic matter on top of the soil. Thatch and clippings keep the seeds from reaching the soil; the seeds must touch the soil to germinate. Use a thatch rake to lightly rake (dethatch) and clean up the clippings. You can use a leaf rake if you don’t have a thatch rake, but you’ll have to rake a bit harder to get to the thatch.

Now that thatch is thing of the past, it’s time to loosen the soil, by either heavy raking, roto-tilling or aerating. Compacted soil is more difficult for your grass’ roots to burrow through and stunts growth. The method depends on the compactness of your soil.

  1. Roto-till for harder soil. This is a common practice for new lawns but it also works for overseeding. When overseeding, you only need to till to a depth of one to two inches, whereas new lawns need a depth of four to six inches.
  2. Aerate for less compact soil. You can use a broadfork or  long-handled aerator to poke holes into the soil, thus making it more seed-friendly. You can also use a rolling aerator to cover more space in less time.
  3. Note that you may not always need to detach, but at least Aerate, your grass will thank you.

Preparing the Soil

If you don’t already know it, now is a good time to determine the pH (acidity) of your soil. This step is optional, but may help you grow a lusher, healthier lawn. The perfect soil pH is between 6.0 and 6.8; you can determine yours with a test kit  from Hydro-Scape bring in your soil and we can send it to be tested.

If you find that your soil’s pH is less than ideal, you can add lime. The package will have directions as to how much to apply based on the pH and your lawn size. The lime will balance your soil’s pH and give your lawn a better chance to thrive.

Regardless of whether you test and treat your soil’s pH, you should top-dress the soil with some compost or Topper Soil. Put a very thin layer of compost or Topper soil over your whole lawn and spread it evenly with a rake. It’s important that the compost doesn’t stay on top of the grass; you should also rake lightly when spreading the compost.

Why top-dress?
This step helps in seed germination and nourishing the seedlings. The key here is to err on the side of too little compost. If you add too much, the seeds will be buried and die.

Spreading and Nurturing the Seed

After all the prep you’ve done, it’s time to sow some seed! Some things to keep in mind:

  • Spread the seed evenly over your whole lawn for best results.
  • The bag will tell you how much seed to apply for your size lawn.
  • You can use a drop spreader, rotary spreader, hand spreader or just your hands. Mix ‘n’ match carefully! You need a seed variety that will blend well with your current lawn. While Bermuda grass is generally a good choice, it probably won’t look good if your lawn is all Fine Fescues.

Make with the rake. By now, you’ve become extremely familiar with your lawn rake and it’s time to use it again. Gently rake your lawn to make sure the seeds settle on the soil. If they’re not in direct contact with the soil, you’ll get no germination and all that prep will be for nothing.

Now it’s time for food and water. Choose a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer that matches your soil’s pH if you know it. Once applied, water the lawn thoroughly. Seeds love moist conditions so it’s good to water three to four times a day for several weeks. After germination, you can switch to watering for longer periods less frequently. Too much water after germination will kill the seedlings.

Around five weeks after germination, add a quick-release nitrogen fertilizer. You should apply about one pound per 1,000 square feet or we recommend following your specific fertilizers label of instructions. Six weeks after this application, do it again. This will keep your lawn well-fed. Check out our lawn fertilizer guide.

Take a break and once your freshly over seeded lawn is established, It’s time to make with the mower once your lawn grows to two to three inches tall. Mow to a height of two inches tall for the rest of the season.  Now stop by your favorite Hydro-Scape branch for expert advice and all the lawn seed you need.