Tips for Successfully Overseeding a Lawn

There are two times of the year that are best for overseeding a lawn: spring and fall.  Overseeding can be employed to renovate an existing lawn to grow off-season grass to keep the lawn green when the primary turf is dormant.  Spring is the best time for lawn overseeding for  lawn renovation.  Overseeding in the fall is generally done in warmer, southern climates to ensure green grass during the winter when the warm season grasses are dormant.  Regardless of the time of year during which you seed over existing grass, these tips will help your lawn project be successful. Preparing your Lawn for Overseeding Follow these tips to prepare for overseeding a lawn.
  • Mow the grass as short as your mower will cut. Almost scalp the grass.
  • If you have time, aerate the lawn. Aeration will improve oxygenation, which will help the new grass seed grow faster and more robust.
  • Top-dress the yard with a compost/topsoil blend. This will help incorporate organic matter into the lawn, improving soil structure, which will, in turn, improve grass germination and long term health.
  • Water the grass thoroughly-giving it at least one inch of water a day after top-dressing. This will put water into the soil so that as the grass seed starts to germinate, it has the necessary moisture to do well.

How to Achieve Even Coverage of Seed

Once the yard is prepared for overseeding, use these techniques to achieve even coverage of the lawn with the grass seed.
  • Calibrate your spreader-you do this to set the spreader drop rate according to your stride. How fast you walk will influence the coverage. Your spreader will have instructions for doing this.
  • Then, fill the spreader with half of the seed and spread the seed evenly walking in one direction. Next, fill the spreader with the other half of the seed and overseed walking perpendicular to the previous direction. Whether you overlap each row slightly depends on whether you are using a drop spreader or a broadcast spreader. With drop spreaders, you do not overlap-but you do precisely line up with your row. Broadcast spreaders require overlapping the throw patter by about 1/3 on the next pass.
  • To keep the seed coverage even, top-dress the grass seed with a light compost mix. You only want to just barely cover the seed. This is more of a dusting of material. It will help keep moisture near the seeds and help increase capillary action of the soil.

Follow-up Care after Overseeding a Lawn

Once you have successfully completed lawn overseeding, you need to care for it properly to ensure that it thrives.  Here are the best ways to ensure good germination rates and healthy growth of your lawn overseeding project.
  • Protect the lawn from foot traffic from people and animals.
  • Water the lawn gently several times a day. Let the seed just barely dry between waterings.
  • Once the grass seed has germinated well, switch the watering schedule to deeper and less frequent watering.
Following the above steps will make overseeding a lawn an easy and successful project.
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