Reseed your lawn to improve its look and quality, cover bare spots, and maintain its long-term health. According to the experts at Jonathan Green, fall is the best time to introduce new seed into an existing lawn of cool-season grasses.
The Jonathan Green name has represented high-quality grass seed, innovation, integrity, determination, and a commitment to excellence since 1881. Today, six generations later, we remain committed to producing superior lawn and garden products.
- Why Late Summer is the Best Time to Reseed Your Lawn
- How to Overseed a Thin Lawn
- Tips and Techniques for Overseeding Lawns
- What Is Overseeding: Information On Timing And Best Grass For Overseeding
- What is Overseeding?
- Choose the Best Grass for Overseeding
- When to Overseed a Lawn
- How to Overseed Lawns
- Overseeding Your Lawn
When to Reseed
Early fall is the very best time to reseed. Soil temperatures are still warm, which is necessary for optimum seed germination, and cooler air temperatures are better for grass growth. There will also be fewer weeds for the grass to compete with at this time of the year. With adequate sunlight, rainwater and fertilizer, you can expect the new grass seedlings to be well-established before the cooler fall weather arrives.
Many homeowners do reseed their lawns in the spring with Black Beauty Grass Seed Mixtures and still enjoy great success because Black Beauty turfgrasses are so deeply rooted and drought tolerant.
Choose the Best Grass Seed
All grass seeds are not the same. For the best results, you will need to choose a high-quality grass seed that is appropriate for your lawn seeding situation.
Used by leading sod growers across the country, Jonathan Green’s genetically superior Black Beauty® grass seed creates a lawn full of grass that:
- Is deep rooted (can grow roots up to 4 feet deep);
- Exhibits an invisible waxy coating (like the waxy skin on an apple) that wards off disease and locks in moisture;
- Has leaves that are dark green, lush, and uniform in texture;
- Grows well in both full sun as well as partial shade;
- Is endophyte-bred for natural insect resistance.
Prepare the area. First, remove as many weeds as possible and get rid of rocks, sticks or other debris. Then cut the lawn short – from one to two inches in height. Use a soil pH tester to ensure that the pH is between 6.2 and 7. To rapidly raise the soil’s pH and help the lawn grow greener and healthier, use Jonathan Green MAG-I-CAL®. It can be applied the same day as the grass seed is spread.
Loosen the soil. If your soil is hard or compacted, Love Your Soil® will loosen and aerate it. It will also feed the soil microbes, making the lawn soil more alive and porous, and enhancing root and root mass development. Love Your Soil® can be applied the same day as the grass seed.
Plant the seed. Apply the Black Beauty® grass seed with a spreader. Distribute the seed evenly and moderately, then lightly rake to distribute the seed within the top quarter-inch of the loosened soil. Seed-to-soil contact is the key to achieving maximum germination.
Fertilize. Apply Jonathan Green Green-Up Lawn Food for Seeding & Sodding. This high phosphorus formula is specially formulated for seeding and spreading under newly laid sod. This fertilizer helps to build a vigorous root system and gets new grass plantings off to a fast start, resulting in a thicker, greener lawn.
Water. Keep the seed bed damp for a few weeks while the grass seed germinates. Plan to water daily and possibly twice daily (unless it’s raining) until new grass is two inches high.
For more information about the best time to reseed your lawn, visit Jonathan Green online, or get in touch with your nearest independent retail store for valuable lawn and garden advice.
Left alone, grass has no problem providing its own seed and replenishing itself. A manicured lawn often doesn’t have that ability because most, if not all, of the seeds are chopped off before they mature by repeated mowing. That’s why it’s important to reseed your lawn from time to time, especially if it gets a lot of wear and tear.
Here’s more information on how long it takes for grass seed to grow.
When you should reseed your lawn depends on geography. Here’s why fall is the best time for reseeding lawn in the North. For starters, that’s when grass normally matures its own crop of seeds, if left to its own devices. An ideal time would be at least 45 days before the first average fall frost date. Unlike spring, the soil is already warmed up, encouraging germination.
These are the complete how-to instructions for how to reseed your lawn.
Take advantage of the season, when cooler temperatures and more consistent soil moisture make things less stressful for delicate, newly forming grass blades. Fall rains tend to be gentler than those in spring, allowing the water to soak into the soil where it will do some good. In addition, less irrigation is required because the hottest weather will have passed. Weeds and pests are less prevalent, too, lessening competition and stress on new grass.
Our fall lawn care guide shows you how to ensure a greener lawn next spring.
In the South, seeding a new lawn is generally done in spring, but fall is a good time for overseeding an existing lawn. That’s when warm-season grasses are supplanted by cool-season grasses, ensuring winter color when the former go dormant. Wait until mid to late fall, when nighttime temperatures are consistently below 65 degrees F and the warm-season turf begins to lose color.
These are our top 5 fall lawn seeding products.
If you are reseeding a lawn, don’t make the mistake of tossing seed on bare, hard-packed ground—most of it won’t take root in such conditions. Prepare the soil first. Use a heavy-tine garden rake to remove thatch and scratch the surface of the soil deeply to make germination easier. Sow the seed and use a roller to press seed into contact with the soil, then cover lightly with a dusting of peat moss or screened compost.
Is your lawn in really sad shape? Here’s how to revive thinning grass.
Why Late Summer is the Best Time to Reseed Your Lawn
Whether you’ve got a few bare or dead patches on your lawn, or you want to reseed your entire yard, there are good and bad times to plant grass seed. If you choose the right time and carefully follow lawn care protocol, your grass will be growing in thick and beautiful in no time.
Timing is Everything
The optimal time to plant grass seed is in the late summer or early fall when temperatures are milder than they are in mid-summer. There are several reasons why this time of year gives grass seed the best chance at germination:
- By the end of summer and into early fall, weed growth slows down leaving grass seed with less competition for water and nutrients.
- Planting in August or September affords the grass two cool season in which to grow (fall and spring) before withstanding the stress of scorching summer heat.
- Spring soil is often too wet for optimal seedbed preparation and grass growth.
Plan your reseeding for late August or September, and you’ll be giving grass the best chance at successful growth.
Preparation and Care
In addition to reseeding during the right season, there are a few other ways that you can get the best out of your grass seed before and after planting.
- Prior to reseeding, loosen any dead grass or weeds and expose the soil so that new seed can be imbedded without being impeded by old, tangled grass or roots.
- Water the seeded area carefully and consistently. Too much water can wash seeds away, and not enough water will kill the sprouts. The best strategy is to keep the soil moist at all times. This means you must take into consideration weather and precipitation and check the soil daily. The top inch of soil should always be moist, but not soggy. This may mean that you water the soil 2-3 times a day for 5-15 minutes, depending on the weather.
- Keep the soil moist until the entire seeded area is filled with densely growing grass. Until this time, do not let the soil dry out. All sprouts will not appear at the same time, so be patient and keep watering consistently.
A lush, green lawn takes time, effort and perseverance. If the grass in your yard is looking thin, dead, or non-existent, let The Treesdale Landscaping Company take on the task of reseeding and refreshing it. We’re the premier landscaping contractor in Western Pennsylvania, and our experienced crew will assess the yard, select the appropriate grass seed, prepare the area for seeding, and spread the seed. We’re not happy until your lawn is growing the thick, healthy grass that everyone wants. Give Treesdale a call today at 724-625-2976, and let our lawn care professionals get your grass back on track!
Agronomists don`t turn out new grass seeds the way engineers turn out new cars, so when there is a new model, it`s big news.
For millions of homeowners, good news is expected in about five years, when, if all goes well, seed for zoysia grass will be available.
It will be especially good news for homeowners in middle America, for it will probably make it possible to have the best of two worlds. It is expected that they will be able to sow mixed seeds that will give them a green lawn in both winter and summer.
These are the homeowners who live in what agronomists call the turf transition zone. It`s the area where the northern zone meets the southern zone –where warm-weather grasses go dormant and turn brown in winter, and where cool-weather grasses go dormant and turn brown in summer. One way or the other, these folks can`t have green grass all year.
But Jack Murray, research agronomist with the U.S. Agriculture Department`s National Agricultural Research Center, heads a program he says will change all that with a new type of zoysia grass that can be seeded, as opposed to the types that must be vegetated–laborously planted with individual plugs.
When the zoysia seeds are mixed with seeds of cool-season grasses (such as bluegrass and fescue) and planted together, they will produce a mixture of grasses that will keep a lawn green (in some regions) throughout the year.
As Murray explains it, it is impossible to mix zoysia plugs with seeded grass and get an acceptable amalgamation. The plugs will create brown patches in the winter and green patches in the summer. But by mixing zoysia seed with, say, bluegrass seed, one can create an even-toned green turf in both winter and summer.
This new zoysia is expected to be ready for the commercial market in four to six years. Not only will it obviate the expensive and arduous practice of planting individual plugs, it will offer improvements such as a longer growing period and more resistance to disease and drought.
To be called ”Belair” zoysia, the new variety will permit practical use of zoysia farther into the northern zone.
”This zoysia is going to be a little faster spreading,” says Murray,
”have a little broader leaf, a little better drought tolerance, hold its color longer in the winter, and have better resistance to the rust
(disease),” Murray says.
The breakthrough came when his researchers found a way to treat zoysia seed so that it would germinate–that is, sprout like other grass seeds. The problem was that an ”inhibitor” in the seed prevented it from responding to light, which triggers the germination process.
But Murray and his staff were able to break down this inhibitor by applying certain chemicals–potassium hydroxide and sodium hydroxide–to the seeds. ”The chemical process to remove the inhibitors really does two things,” Murray says. ”It breaks the outside waxy coating on the seed, and in doing that, it causes chemical changes inside the seed–that is, the disappearance of the inhibitors.”
Homeowners in the transition zone traditionally have leaned toward cool-season bluegrass and fescue, Murray says. ”But now we are beginning to see a shift toward the warm-season varieties simply because people are saying `if I have a choice I`d rather have my grass green in the summer.` ”
Thus, they have begun to plant more bermuda grasses and zoysia, both of which must be plugged or sprigged, setting in individual plants in staggered rows with 10- or 12-inch centers, like planting trees in an orchard. And in the case of zoysia, it takes up to three years for it to cover the ground with a contiguous turf. Moreover, zoysia plugs are expensive.
But with seeded zoysia, says Murray, a homeowner can get full coverage in 12 weeks, at much less expense.
Zoysia, as a warm-season grass, thrives in the southern zone, and many people in the northern zone who don`t object to its straw color in winter plant it to take advantage of its low maintenance. It requires little attention: infrequent mowing, nominal amounts of fertilizer and it resists disease and dry weather.
”As for winter hardiness,” says Murray, ”it could probably survive in Minnesota.” But as a practical consideration he notes that its greenery is short-lived in the far-northern zone. Its practical limits, he believes, are Philadelphia on the East Coast and San Francisco on the West Coast. In between, its growing zone is dictated by altitude–mountains and high plains
–which in effect constitute an intrusion of the nothern zone into the southern zone.
But a seeded zoysia, mixed with cool-season grasses, would likely extend the joys of zoysia farther northward and westward.
How to Overseed a Thin Lawn
- Mow low. Before overseeding your thin lawn, cut your grass shorter than normal and bag the clippings. After mowing, rake the lawn to help loosen the top layer of soil and remove any dead grass and debris. This will give the grass seed easy access to the soil so it can root more easily after germinating.
- Choose a grass seed. Which type of grass seed you choose depends on your existing grass type. If your lawn consists of cool-season grasses, choose a product specially designed to thicken thin lawns, like Scotts® Turf Builder® Thick’R Lawn™, which combines grass seed, fertilizer, and a soil improver into an easy-to-use product you apply with a spreader. If your lawn has a warm-season grass or you are unsure of the best grass for your area, the people at your neighborhood garden center can help you choose the right Scotts® Turf Builder® Grass Seed Mix for your lawn. If you don’t know what type of grass you have, consult our Identify Your Grass article.
- Amend the soil. If you’re using grass seed to overseed your lawn instead of Scotts® Turf Builder® Thick’R Lawn™, it’s a good idea to rake in a thin, 0.25-inch layer of enriched soil over your lawn to help the seed settle in. Don’t put so much down that you kill your existing grass; less than a quarter of an inch is plenty. Scotts® Turf Builder® LawnSoil™ works well for this purpose.
- Spread the seed. You’ve cut the lawn short, raked it, and removed any debris. Now comes the easy part. Just fill up your spreader, adjust the setting according to the label directions, and apply.
- Feed and water. To give your new grass seedlings the essential nutrients they need for fast growth, apply Scotts® Turf Builder® Starter® Food for New Grass after you’ve spread the grass seed. (No need to do this with Scotts® Turf Builder® Thick’R Lawn™ since it already contains a fertilizer.) Afterwards, no matter which product you used to overseed, be sure to keep the soil consistently moist by lightly watering once or twice a day until the seedlings have reached the height of the rest of your lawn. For more information, check out our in-depth watering article.
Tips and Techniques for Overseeding Lawns
The concept of overseeding lawns as part of a regular maintenance has been around for years, but it is still new to many homeowners. This one step will do more to improve the quality of your lawn than almost anything else you can do.
For the organic and conventional home turf experts, this is one of the best things you can do. Years of experience proves this. The information on this page will explain why overseeding your lawn is so important for a thick, healthy, and weed free lawn.
The two images below show the same fescue lawn before and after seeding. Overseeding was performed in early fall and was recommended due to thinning grass and increasing weed problems. The second image was taken the following spring after overseeding. The grass is thicker and the thin areas have filled in.
Grasses that Benefit From Overseeding
The practice of overseeding lawns is really nothing more than spreading grass seed over an existing lawn. The golf industry has been doing it since the sport began and is an important step in maintaining quality turf. Knowing how to do it correctly is the key.
Not every grass type requires overseeding. The practice of overseeding lawns is primarily reserved for cool season bunch type grasses such as tall fescue, fine fescue, perennial and annual ryegrass and occasionally bluegrass. There are exceptions, but for most home lawns, grass types that spread by the production of “runners” are not generally overseeded unless it is damaged or diseased. This includes most warm season grass varieties. An exception is bermudagrass that is occasionally overseeded in the fall using a cool season variety.
Understanding Grass Growth
Most cool season grasses are bunch type grasses. As the name sounds, they grow in a bunch, but growth habits are largely misunderstood. When lawn grass seed germinates, a single grass blade emerges. The grass crown, at the plant’s center, have roots growing down from the crown and the blades growing up. Grass plants expand as new grass blades, called tillers, develop and grow along side the original crown. Hundreds of new tillers can develop, each having its own crown, roots and blades. A blade of grass has a short lifespan of about 6 weeks and must continually produce new tillers or the grass thins out. If you would like a better understanding of how grasses grow, see the page on Photosynthesis.
Why is Overseeding lawns Necessary?
After several years, mature plants begin to slow down their reproduction rate. Since a blade of grass lives only an average of 45 to 60 days, production of new tillers must continually outpace the dieback of older leaves. Young grass will produce tillers faster than older grass. Therefore, one of the most important secrets to maintaining a healthy, thick lawn is to make sure your grass is young. (Nick Christians, PhD, Iowa State University) The practice of overseeding lawns is the easiest way of Keeping grass young.
When is the Right Time for Overseeding Lawns
Overseeding lawns consisting of Cool season grasses should be done in late summer or early fall. There are many reasons for this. With fall germination, the young grass will have two or three months to become better established before temperatures drop too low and growth stops. Next spring, the young plants will have another few months to develop deeper roots before the summer heat sets in. This is the primary reason, but there are also other reasons for overseeding lawns in the fall. Below are a few:
- Overseeding lawns in fall reduces or eliminates competition from summer weedy grasses, such as crabgrass, foxtails, and other weeds.
- Soil temperatures are still warm in the fall, which is necessary for seed germination, while the cooler air temperatures are better for grass growth.
- Rain amounts and soil moisture is generally better in the fall.
- Overseeding lawns in the fall gives the grass a head start. The roots have become established before winter, which greatly reduces crop loss should you have a hot, dry spring.
Methods Used for Overseeding lawns and Soil Preparation
Any method you choose to evenly distribute seed will work. The task of overseeding lawns doesn’t require expensive equipment. Smaller areas can be done by using your hands if you do not have access to a fertilizer spreader. If overseeding lawns by hand, you should first divide the amount of seed you want to spread in half. Then carefully spread half of the seed by broadcasting it over the entire area. Choose a single direction to walk while spreading the seed. Then spread the other half of the seed at a right angle to the first direction you walked in. By broadcasting the seed in two different directions you have a greater chance of getting complete coverage.
Small hand-held rotary spreaders can also be used for small areas. They are generally inexpensive and are more precise than spreading by hand.
For larger areas, it is better to use a drop or rotary spreader. This is the same type of spreader that is used to spread lawn fertilizer. Drop spreaders, like the name sounds, drop seed directly below the spreader. The width of drop will never be wider than the spreader itself. Drop spreaders are more accurate when working around flower gardens or ponds, etc, but are not well suited for very large areas. Care must be taken to ensure you are walking in straight lines. Any swerve may result in a missed area. Overseeding lawns with a drop spreader is more work if the area is large.
I prefer a broadcast spreader for overseeding lawns. They come in various sizes from small push spreaders to larger commercial models capable of holding 100 plus pounds of seed. Depending on the spreader, you will get coverage 3 or 4 times the width of the spreader. Keep in mind that seed is very light and will not broadcast as far as fertilizer. You will need to watch carefully to make sure the seed is striking the disc at a consistent rate. If the openings in the bottom of the hopper are too small for the seed size, it could easily clog. If this happens, increase the size of the opening in the hopper and walk a little faster to compensate. Also, try to spread the seed when the air is calm. Overseeding lawns even with a small breeze is all that is needed to prevent an even spread.
Preparing the Grass and Soil for Overseeding
For seed to germinate it needs to come in contact with the soil. Seed will not germinate if it is resting on grass or grass clipping, leaves, moss, or any other material. It may help to mow your lawn to 2 inches or lower and collect the grass clippings. If grass clippings from previous mowings are covering the soil surface, you may need to rake the grass before applying seed. A metal rake is best, making sure the tines are scratching the soil surface. This will lift excess clipping or debris so the soil is exposed.
Before overseeding is the perfect time to core aerate. Core aeration is the process of pulling out a plug of grass and soil approximately one half inch wide and three inches long. Walk behind, motorized core aerators are very heavy machines, some weighing several hundred pounds and take a little practice to use efficiently. Aerators can be rented at many equipment rental stores. Non-motorized, pull-behind types can be purchased at home and garden stores. Heavy watering or rain should precede aeration for effective core depth. Even the heaviest aerators have difficulty penetrating dry ground.
The removal of a plug during aeration relieves soil compaction, while increasing gas exchange and water availability to the roots. Two or three passes with the aerator in different directions is best. Don’t worry about picking up the plugs; they can be left on the surface to breakdown naturally. In a few weeks they will be gone.
Core aeration is not the same thing as spike aeration. Spike aerators do not pull a plug, but will simply punch a hole in the ground. On the down side it may slightly increase soil compaction, but at the same time helps air and moisture reach the roots.
Raking is hard work, so another method is to use a pull-behind dethatcher. This is a device with dozens of metal tines that drag across the soil.
These models are designed to attach to the back of a riding mower. The tray on top of the dethatcher can be weighted down with sand bags or cinder blocks for deeper tine penetration into the soil. I prefer sand bags instead of cinder blocks, since bags don’t fall off as easily. Tie them down if necessary.
To make you own bags, take a old car or truck tube and cut them into eighteen inch lengths. Use wire to close one end and fill the bag with sand or gravel. Wire the other end closed and you have a cheap weight that works great.
Make sure you use enough weight so the tines scratch at least an eighth of an inch deep into the soil. In dry weather you will need to water thoroughly before using the dethatcher. After going over the lawn several times in different directions use a mower with a bagging system to remove debris pulled up by the dethatcher.
Keep in mind that dethaching will pull up a lot of dead and green grass. Grass clipping left on the lawn after mowing can form a thick mat. dethatching will remove much of this. The photo shows a fescue lawn and the amount of grass that is pulled up in just a few square inches of lawn. This does not hurt the grass.
Stoloniferous grasses, grass that spreads by runners, add another degree of difficulty in ensuring you are digging deep enough to remove thatch. Cutting through the stolons will not hurt the grass. The daughter plants along the stolon will continue to grow normally because they have their own root system.
Stoloniferous grasses are mostly associated with warm season grasses. Most cool season grasses, with the exception of rough bluegrass, do not produce a lot of stolons. The few that do produce stolons are fairly short.
You can also rent a motorized seeder for use in overseeding lawns. Seeders have several adjustable vertical blades that cut lines into the soil. Most have a built-in hopper that drops seed at the same time that it is making the cuts. The idea is that some of the seed will fall into the cuts, making good contact with the soil. The more expensive machines drop seed into the cuts and now where else. I have owned and used these machines and can tell you that seeders work best on flat and level ground that is relatively rock free. Flat and level means the ground has few holes, dips or mounds. The blades glide over dips without even scratching the surface, while digging deep groves into small mounds. Rocks will dull the blades quickly.
Choosing the Right Seed
Before overseeding a lawn, it is important to choose a seed that is compatible with your grass. You should try to use a seed that is the same as your grass. For example, if you have turf-type tall fescue, then use turf-type tall fescue seed or a blend of turf-type tall fescue seed and Kentucky bluegrass seed. Be careful about using bargain store seed brands for overseeding lawns. Bargain seed is often poor quality and can contain multiple undesirable varieties.
Overseeding Fescue Lawns
Fescue Rule: An important rule is if you have a turf-type tall fescue lawn, do not overseed with a coarse type tall fescue seed. Coarse fescue varieties, such as Kentucky 31 Tall Fescue or Alta are much larger plants having wider blades that were originally designed as pasture grass. They are often sold as lawn grass seed to those who do not know the difference. Stick with turf-type tall fescue if that is what you already have.
It is okay to combine bluegrass seed with turf-type tall fescue seed. Many professional seed blends use both because blades are similar in size and appearance and bluegrass spreads filling in gaps. However, the popular Kentucky bluegrass seed found in many seed bags is from an older variety of bluegrass that can’t take routine fertilization. It becomes very disease prone under high maintenance. If you fertilize regularly, ask to be sure it is an improved variety that can handle fertilization.
Important Note on Turf-Type Tall Fescue
If you want the best looking grass, be sure to use a turf type blend. The turf blends are the varieties that are being improved for appearance and deep green color as well as disease resistance qualities. If you choose a pasture grass, such as Kentucky 31, you are missing out on all the science and genetic improvements that will give you a much better looking lawn.
In addition, you get several different varieties in a single bag of turf-type so if one variety doesn’t do well in your location or soil conditions, one of the others will. You don’t get that with pasture fescue varieties.
Overseeding Lawns Using Fine Fescue Seed
Be careful when using fine fescue grass seed. The varieties of fine fescue in the U.S. are used primarily as a shade grass. It cannot survive in full sun except in places with year around cool climates. There are not many places like that in the U.S. For this reason it is marketed and sold as a shade grass. Varieties include creeping red fescue, chewings fescue, sheep fescue, and hard fescue. However, fine fescue varieties are often included in fescue seed blends because the grass will do well on shady sides of houses or under shade trees better than other grasses. Overseeding lawns using only fine fescue seed is not recommended, but is okay when combined with other seed varieties.
Overseeding Lawns with Bluegrass Seed
Most bluegrass species spread by underground stems called rhizomes. The most popular seed type is Kentucky Bluegrass seed. The rhizomes sprout at various points along the stem producing a new plant identical to the mother plant. Each new plant will send out rhizomes that produce even more plants. Because of the way it spreads, healthy bluegrass lawns rarely need overseeding. Bluegrass is often included in some tall fescue seed blends.
Keep in mind that Kentucky bluegrass can become disease prone if fertilized several times a year. It does well with infrequent fertilization. The improved varieties were designed to grow under more intense fertilization and are used by golf courses and well maintained home lawns.
Ryegrass Seed Mixtures
Lawns consisting solely of ryegrass are rare in the U.S. except in the transition zone. Ryegrass is usually combined with other seed types.
Perennial Ryegrass is popular in many seed mixtures, but is rarely used as a stand alone grass. It has poor cold and poor high heat tolerance. It is sometimes blended with fescue or used to overseed dormant bermudagrass lawns.
Annual ryegrass will only live for a year before it dies. Unless you desire a temporary grass, make sure you use a quality perennial ryegrass seed variety. Some lawn seed companies will blend annual ryegrass seed into the mixture because it germinates in only a few days providing a quick cover crop until the perennial varieties becomes established. Bargain ryegrass seed blends will often contain large amounts of annual ryegrass seed because of its low cost. It looks good for a while until it dies back leaving the home owner wondering what happened. It is better to spend a little more and get a higher quality seed blend.
Annual ryegrass is generally reserved for overseeding dormant warm season grasses or as a cover crop. This annual grass dies as the warm season grass starts emerging from dormancy in the spring. Annual grasses must be reseeded every year.
Overseeding Bermudagrass Lawns with Cool Season Grass Seed
Overseeding lawns containing Bermudagrass is common in the south. By using a cool season grass seed variety the lawns retains a green color throughout winter. Annual ryegrass, perennial ryegrass and turf-type tall fescue or bluegrass are often used. Do not use Kentucky 31 tall fescue or other coarse fescue blends for overseeding lawns. The coarse fescues are larger and taller growing plants that do not blend well in bermudagrass.
Establishing Warm season Grasses from Seed
Some varieties of warm season grasses can be established by seed. Soil preparation is the same for all grass seed. Be aware that seed of many varieties are much smaller than their cool season cousins, which makes spreading more difficult. If the seed is extremely small, mix the seed with at least an equal portion of sand. The amount of sand doesn’t really matter, so use an amount that is easiest. For example, you can use one part seed to four parts sand. Measure out the amount of seed you need for the size of the area you are seeding. Mix the seed thoroughly with the sand, pour the mix into the spreader and evenly distribute the seed/sand mixture over your lawn.
If you are only wanting to fix thin areas in your lawn, correct the conditions that created the problems first. You may need to relieve soil compaction, fix water drainage problems, etc. Using sprigs or plugs to fix damaged areas will fill in faster than when using seed. For small damaged areas, use sprigs from your lawn and transplant in areas to be fixed.
Warm season grasses should be seeded or sprigged in the spring. Don’t mix varieties, such as bermudagrass and zoysiagrass or centepedegrass and St. Augustinegrass, etc. Due to the way warm season grasses spread, they will try to complete with each other. They have different cold and heat tolerances as well. The more aggressive one will usually win.
How Much Seed To Apply
The amount needed for overseeding lawns are usually recorded on the label. It is different with different seed varieties. The rates can be adjusted depending on the thickness of your lawn. If you currently overseed on an annual basis, less seed is preferred.
- Use 2 to 4 lbs per 1000 sq. ft if your lawns is thick already. It is more of a maintenance activity for thicker lawns.
- When overseeding lawns with open dirt areas and other trouble spots, use 4 to 8 lbs per 1000 sq. ft.
- For complete renovation, 8 to 12 lbs per 1000 sq. ft. may be needed.
- Make sure you follow good irrigation techniques for the best results. It may take a couple of years, overseeding each year, for the lawn to look it best.
- Remember a key point when overseeding lawns: Try not to apply too much seed, and I emphasize “too much”. Thick, vibrant lawns are created over time as plants grow and enlarge. Applying so much seed in an attempt get a super thick lawn in three months may lead to overcrowding as plants mature.
Golf courses often use 15 to 30 lbs of seed when overseeding important areas. Why? Because they have an extremely high user expectation. They don’t have the luxury of “allowing it to grow in over time.” They know how much of a particular seed the turf can handle. Don’t try to follow their example or you may create problems for yourself.
Some websites will tell you to double or triple the recommended rates. Some even say when overseeding an established lawn that you should use double the rate of seed recommended for planting a brand new lawn. I don’t agree with this advice. They are assuming that the homeowner is not going to water correctly. The problem is if you do water correctly and get good germination, you can easily end up with to too much grass. Even if you use triple the rate, but fail to water, you can still lose the lawn. A lot of work is required for overseeding lawns correctly, so be determined to pay careful attention to how you water. You can measure out more seed if you really believe you need it.
Maintenance that Follows Overseeding
Keeping the Seeds Moist
After overseeding your lawn, the seeds will need moisture to germinate. Keep the soil moist (but not overly wet) by lightly sprinkling two to three times a day throughout the required germination period. Once your grass begins sprouting, you can cut down on the amount of water. Instead, water less frequently, but a little deeper. Be careful not to soak the soil repeatedly or you could encourage root rot diseases. As the grass grows, allow the soil to dry slightly before watering again. The greatest danger to seedlings is overwatering and soaking the soil, which could lead to disease (root rot) problems or underwatering and drying out the tiny roots. The second greatest problem is if you have high heat periods that cook the tender roots should the ground get too dry.
To Cover or Not to Cover Seeds
Generally when overseeding lawns, the existing grass provides cover and shade. In poor lawns with lots of exposed dirt, the soil will need to be raked to cover the seed with a thin layer of dirt.
If you plan to spread compost, apply the compost first and then seed. This is to make sure you don’t bury the seed too deep. After seeding, Rake the seed so the compost lightly covers the seed. There are also various seed coverings that shade the soil and reduce evaporation. The least expensive may be wheat straw. There is no magic to it, so just lightly spread a layer of straw over the lawn. With a light breeze you can use the wind to your advantage. The wind can catch the straw and distribute it evenly over ten feet or so. You will always get some wheat that germinates, but wheat can’t take repeated mowing. After a few cuttings, it will dieback and disappear. You may need to remove the straw after the grass starts growing if it was applied too thick.
Most professional turf mangers will spread seed after mowing and soil preparation. Some rake it in and some don’t, but it is always better to cover the seed with a thin layer of soil. Don’t mow again until the seed germinates and reaches at least two inches. It may take two to three weeks, depending on the seed type. If you mow before the seed germinates, you run the risk of picking up loose seed. Remember, contact with the soil and moisture is most important.
Using a Starter Fertilizer
When overseeding lawns, you may find it necessary to apply a starter fertilizer before or directly after seeding. This is especially true if a soil test says your soil Phosphorus (P) is low. Starter fertilizers will contain higher amounts of phosphorus (Middle number on the bag of fertilizer).
The reason for the increase is because phosphorus is relatively immovable in the soil. The soil may contain plenty of phosphorus already, but since it doesn’t move or leach, it may not be where the tiny roots can reach it. The only drawback to adding (P) is that weed seeds will benefit from the added phosphorus as well. However, when you remember that a thick turf is your best defense against weeds, added phosphorus will only help you achieve your goals. For a better understanding of how phosphorus and other nutrients works in plants, click on this link, Understanding the Soil Analysis Report.
Tall Fescue Grass
Tall fescue is an exceptional cool season grass. It is preferred by many because of its dark green color, wear resistance and heat tolerance. Click here to find out everything you need to know about tall fescue.
Kentucky bluegrass is one of the most popular of all cool season grasses. It is used on lawns, fairways and athletic fields in the cooler areas of the U.S. Find out what makes this grass so special.
Annual and Perennial Ryegrass
Ryegrass has come a long way with the introduction of new turf species. See all the pros and cons about using the perennial and annual varieties.
Introduction to Warm Season Grasses
Warm season grasses include Bermudagrass, Zoysiagrass, Centipedegrass, St. Augustinegrass and others. Here is everything you need to know about these grasses, tips and techniques, and maintenance practices.
Watering a New Lawn
Watering a new lawn is very different from watering a mature lawn. When planting a new lawn, success will be greatly increased by learning proper watering techniques.
Lawn Winerization Tips and Techniques
Fall winterization is the most important time for fertilizing cool season grasses. Warm season grasses do not receive the same treatment. Find everything you need to know to winterize both cool and warm season grasses.
Overseeding Lawns back to Lawn Care Academy Home
What Is Overseeding: Information On Timing And Best Grass For Overseeding
Overseeding is commonly recommended when otherwise healthy lawns exhibit brown patches or grass begins to die out in spots. Once you have determined that the cause is not insects, disease or mis-management, overseeding can help you recover the area with healthy blades of grass. There is a right time and method to overseeding for successful coverage. Learn when to overseed a lawn and how to overseed lawns for a lush green turf.
What is Overseeding?
What is overseeding? It is simply seeding over an area that has or had existing grass that is performing poorly. There are two main reasons to overseed your lawn. First, if the lawn is patchy or thin. Secondly, if you are growing a warm-season grass that goes dormant and brown in winter, you can overseed with a cool-season turf seed so you have year around green grass.
Primarily the reasons are the result of aesthetic desires. The emerald green expanse of a perfect lawn is attractive to most homeowners. Overseeding can be costly and requires careful preparation of the area and subsequent maintenance. Timing and variety are important considerations when overseeding your lawn.
Choose the Best Grass for Overseeding
If your existing grass generally performs well, you can just use the variety that is already planted. In areas with webworm or other pest problems, you might want to choose a variety with an endophyte enhanced seed, which helps reduce pest problems. You need to pick a species that is suited to your climate and region.
Some good warm-season grasses are Bermuda grass and zoysia grass. For cooler climates, try a Kentucky blue or tall fescue. As you determine the best grass for overseeding, don’t forget to consider the lighting of the area. Fine fescues and shade tolerant Kentucky blue are great for dim areas.
When to Overseed a Lawn
The best time for overseeding your lawn is determined by the type of seed. For most species, spring is the best time to overseed the turf.
When you are overseeding for winter coverage, you may put down seed in early fall, but it requires quite a bit more management and irrigation to get the seed to take off.
Most grasses need a germination temperature of 59 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not seed when heavy freezes or snow are expected.
How to Overseed Lawns
Preparation is an important part of the process. Rake and aerate the seedbed. Remove rocks and debris. Use the correct amount of seed in a seed spreader. Every species has a specific recommended seed rate.
Use a starter fertilizer to get the plants off to a healthy start. It is also a good idea to use a pre-emergent herbicide safe for young grass seedlings. Once you apply the seed, you may top dress lightly with soil; but in most cases, the aeration holes will catch the seed and they will grow there without top dressing.
Keep the area evenly moist until you see the seeds sprout. Then you can reduce irrigation gradually to match normally watering schedules. Wait to mow the grass until the area has filled in and the blades are at least an inch high.
If your lawn is looking thin and unhealthy, or you have crabgrass and bare spots that won’t go away, you may want to overseed it. The best way to accomplish this is with the help of the professionals at Jonathan Green.
Jonathan Green supplies genetically superior cool season grass seed, soil enhancers, fertilizer, and organic lawn and garden products to professional customers, such as sod growers and independent retailers, throughout the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Midwestern United States.
We are also leaders in organics and have developed an environmentally sound approach to lawn care called the New American Lawn Plan. The Plan combines our Black Beauty grass seed mixtures with organic and traditional soil amendments, lawn fertilizers and control products that feed your lawn AND your soil so air, water and nutrients get absorbed by the grass.
Properly Prepare the Soil
The key to successful overseeding is having good seed-to-soil contact. Rake out any dead grass and loosen compacted soil with a rake or garden weasel about a half-inch deep to give the new roots a good chance to grow in the loosened soil. If your lawn area is large, consider renting a slit seeder, aerator or de-thatching machine.
If your soil has a low pH, apply MAG-I-CAL® to increase the pH level to a 6.0 to 6.8 range for optimum growth. It will also help the lawn grow greener and healthier.
This is also a great time to apply Green-Up Lawn Food for Seeding and Sodding, our high phosphorus formula that helps build a vigorous root system and gets new grass plantings off to a fast start.
If you have a small lawn, you may be able to broadcast Jonathan Green Black Beauty® seed by hand. For larger lawns, a broadcast spreader is the best way to quickly cover a lot of ground and achieve uniform and even coverage. Make certain that the seed is slightly buried in the top soil.
Choose the Finest Grass Seed
Your lawn will never be better than the seed you plant, so we recommend overseeding with either Jonathan Green Black Beauty® Ultra grass seed mixture or Black Beauty® Fall Magic™ grass seed mixture:
Black Beauty® Ultra is most similar to what is found on sod farms. The mixture possesses species diversity and contains exclusive, elite varieties of tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass. These grasses grow a naturally dark-green and beautiful lawn with excellent heat and drought tolerance. Black Beauty Ultra® grass seed germinates in about 14 days and will improve any lawn it is overseeded into.
Black Beauty® Fall Magic™ has been specially formulated for successful fall seeding and contains several grass types, including Black Beauty® tall fescues. It can be used in sun and shade lawn areas to overseed established lawns or to start new lawns from scratch. Black Beauty® Fall Magic™ repairs summer damage and provides an attractive, thicker, greener lawn, with germination in 10 to 14 days.
The best way to overseed a lawn is with the finest products from Jonathan Green. When you are ready to get started, visit us online or find your nearest independent retail store.
Overseeding Your Lawn
Overseeding is an important part of growing a healthy, lush lawn. Overseeding revives damaged plants caused by a lack of water, heavy foot traffic and heat. Overseeding not only allows grass to grow where it doesn’t exist, but it also improves the entire stand of grass by sowing better varieties. The process of overseeding involves planting grass seed directly into the existing turf without ruining the turf or soil. If you don’t overseed, you run the risk of weeds overtaking your lawn.
Fall is the ideal time to overseed cool season grasses, because the soil is still warm enough to germinate seeds and the cool air invites grass to grow a strong root system. Cool season grasses include Kentucky Bluegrass, Perennial Ryegrass and Fescue. Warm season grasses include Bermuda, Centipede, Saint Augustine and Zoysia.
Additionally, for tips and helpful information on how to properly feed your lawn, visit our Feeding Your Lawn project guide. And if you’re thinking about the best way to go about planting trees and shrubs, check out our 10 steps to Plant a New Tree and Shrubs project guide.
Your geographic location affects when and how you overseed. Cooler fall weather happens earlier in the North; therefore, you should overseed your cool season grasses by late summer or early fall if you live in this region. Late spring or early summer is ideal for overseeding warm season grasses in the South.
There are a few things to keep in mind before you overseed:
- Make sure you know the measurements of your lawn. Multiply the width and length of your lawn space to calculate the square footage. If you have multiple areas to cover, divide each section and do the calculation, and then add the sums together for the total square footage.
- Stop fertilizing for at least a month before overseeding. Vigorous growth of the existing lawn will make it more difficult for the new seeds to establish themselves.
- Identify your grass type, so you can treat it appropriately. To do this, examine the climate of your growing region, look at the shape of the grass blades, feel the texture of the grass, and/or take samples to your local Home Depot Garden Center for assistance.
- When determining how much grass seed you need, don’t guesstimate, calculate. Know exactly how much you need with our project calculators.
Lawn Care Tip of the Month: Fall Overseeding & Fertilizing
Posted on:Sep 19, 2016
This is Part IX of our Lawn Care Tip of the Month blog series.
What’s not to love about Fall? The temperatures trend cooler, bringing a more than welcome respite from the summer heat. The leaves begin to change color. Your local coffee shop brings back “PSL” . . .
Okay, maybe you don’t care so much about pumpkin spice lattes, but you should definitely care about your lawn in the fall. The next two or so months’ work will make a “YUGE” difference in your lawn come spring next year. So, buckle up, because there is a lot to cover in this installment of Lawn Care Tip of the Month.
Think of aeration as a massage for your lawn. Sometimes, you need deep tissue therapy after a stressful day or week. Well, your lawn just came out of a stressful summer season, so it’s going to need some deep penetrating therapy, too.
Aerating counteracts the damage from heat and dryness of summer and creates optimum lawn conditions for continued fall maintenance. Most importantly, aeration relieves soil compaction, which improves permeability, water infiltration and nutrient absorption in the root zone.
To prepare the lawn for aerating, cut the grass a bit shorter than its optimal height, so you to see the pattern of your aeration and increase your process precision. But don’t cut it short all at once! Incrementally lower your cutting height over a few mowings, following the “1/3 Rule,” to avoid unnecessary stress on the lawn.
Once the lawn is properly prepped, you’re ready to aerate. Of course, we recommend a CORELESS aerator, such as the Grasshopper AERA-vator coreless lawn aerator attachment. The oscillating steel tines deep-fracture hard, dry soils, and leaves no unsightly cores laying on the surface. This process promotes an enhanced environment for the grassroots, while effectively preparing the yard for the next steps of the lawn maintenance process, fertilizing and seeding.
If you’ve been maintaining your yard properly throughout the year, you won’t need to do much fertilizing or overseeding, beyond putting down a good winterizer fertlizer later in the season. However, yards with extensive damage or bare spots will require more intensive care.
Where grass is sparse, thin or completely dead, uniformly distribute grass seed over the desired area in criss-crossing pattern for a complete and even coverage. Next, ensure the seed is in contact with the soil. This seed-to-soil contact is essential for root growth.
PRO TIP >> Aerating before you overseed is a great way to promote seed-to-soil contact!
After the seed is sown, frequently apply light sprinkles of water to the newly seeded sections to keep the soil moist while the seeds sprout. Gradually increase the amount of time between waterings to encourage roots to grow deeper into the soil.
Fall Fertlizers: Short-Term and Long-Term Benefits
A proactive fertilizing regimen in the fall will deliver essential nutrients now that are necessary for a healthy lawn in the spring.
It’s important to apply two different types of fertilizers at their respective times. The first application should be done in the early fall, ideally before a day of light, steady rain. The cooler weather, warm soil and ample rain creates the perfect environment for strong grassroots to develop and grass seeds to germinate. Apply a nitrogen-rich, slow-releasing fertilizer to encourage growth and provide essential nourishment.
The second application — a winterizer — is done later in the season and is the final application of the year. Designed specifically for late-fall manicuring, this type of fertilizer has a different chemical makeup than others. It is comprised of three major nutrients: potassium, nitrogen and phosphorus. Potassium helps the roots absorb other nutrients while strengthening and hardening the grass, which enhances the lawn’s winter weather tolerability. Nitrogen is a common component in other fertilizers, but the amount present in winterizer is dramatically decreased to stimulate only modest growth. Phosphorus enhances root growth, repair and production.
Both granular or liquid fertilizers will work, but the liquid variety will provide a more even coverage and a more effective application. A Grasshopper Shielded Sprayer is a great way to apply fertilizer (and herbicides, insecticides and fungicides, too).
For even more fall lawn care tips, check out this article from Yard Day.