How to Overseed the Lawn for Fall

How to Overseed the Lawn for Fall

The fall is one of the best times to repair the lawn from summer damage and to encourage thicker growth of cool-season grasses. In cooler, northern climates, overseeding is a lawn care technique used more for repair. In warmer, southern climates, overseeding is a matter of aesthetics.  In warm regions, the turfgrass will go dormant and turn brown for the winter. Overseeding with a cool-season grass will ensure a lush, green lawn all winter.

Overseeding the lawn in cool climates

If you live in a cooler climate area, such as the Midwest, Northeast, or Pacific Northwest, the fall is an excellent time to overseed the lawn in order to repair damage from drought and heat. This year has been especially rough—particularly in the Midwest. Cool season lawns in certain areas of the country aren't dormant because of the heat and they're dead.

If you're working with an extremely droughty lawn, the first thing to do is aerate the lawn. It can be hard to re-wet a completely parched lawn. Rent an aerator and rake a one-half inch layer of compost over the lawn to increase moisture-retention in the soil under the lawn. You can also hire your lawn care company to aerate for you. They might or might not top-dress with compost. If they don't, you definitely should, as this will add nutrients to the soil and improve the structure.

After aerating, water in the compost to help it settle, and to re-establish the moisture column. You want the soil to be well-watered but not soggy.

Next, mow the lawn as short as you can without scalping it or hitting bare dirt. Then select a mixture of grasses well-suited to your area. Some grasses are more shade-tolerant than others. Some can take more foot traffic than others. Use the resources on to choose the right grass for your situation; Perennial ryegrass, fescue blends, and Kentucky bluegrass are all popular cool-season grasses.

Use a rotary spreader to overseed the lawn. Walk perpendicular to your driveway, spreading grass seed. Then, cover the lawn again by walking parallel to the driveway. This will ensure good coverage. Water the lawn three times daily for 10 minutes for the first week after seeding. Then water once daily for the first month. You can cut back to twice a week after the first month. Do not mow the newly-overseeded grass for the first two months.

Overseeding in a warm climate

Overseeding is typically done in warmer climates to produce a green turf throughout the winter. Bermudagrass and zoysia are two warm-season grasses that can be successfully overseeded with annual ryegrass for green winter turf.

To overseed a warm-season lawn, mow the grass so that it is one-half to one inch tall. Do not scalp the grass! Then overseed according to the instructions above. Take care to keep the grass seed moist while it is sprouting. Do not mow for the first eight weeks. After that, resume your normal mowing schedule.

By overseeding in fall, you can enjoy a lush, green lawn year-round.&

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