Do you have bare spots? A lot of weeds? Dead grass due to a long, dry summer? It may be time to show your yard a little TLC and overseed your lawn. Most frequently done in the fall, overseeding is the practice that gives grass a reinvigorated look and feel without starting over from scratch. Very simply, it’s spreading grass seed over an existing lawn. Typically kept by landscape professionals as a “secret,” we’re letting the cat out of the bag and showing you how to ramp up your lawn game for 2017!
Here’s what you’ll need for the project:
- a lawn mower
- a lawn aerator (available for rent at your local home improvement store)
- grass seed appropriate for your climate (research more here or ask a local garden center)
- a fertilizer/seed spreader (regular lawns) or hand spreader (small lawns)
- straw or pellet mulch to cover the seed (optional)
- “starter” fertilizer
Note: You can purchase seed, straw and pellet mulch at any local garden center such as Mulder’s Landscape Supplies, Wedel’s Garden Center or Farm N Garden. There are a variety of seed mixes made for sunny and shady areas, and you may need both depending on your yard’s specific site conditions.
The first step to overseeding is to prepare your lawn by aerating. If you leave grass clippings in the yard after mowing, this will be the best way to remove the thick, dead layer of debris (called the “thatch”). We recommend double-aerating, which is simply going over the lawn area twice. In case you have a very thick layer of thatch, you can aerate more than twice or consider dethatching. The purpose of preparing the area is to loosen and expose the soil to receive seed.
Before you actually overseed, the lawn should be mowed very short (2” or less). If your grass is very long and the clippings would leave clumps behind, consider bagging and disposing of them as yard waste. Remember, the goal is to expose the open soil (without pulling up strong grass) so the seeds land there directly. Germination won’t happen if the seed lands on leaves, moss, matted-down debris or thatch.
Apply grass seed as instructed on the label and use the appropriate spreader for your lawn. If you have a large yard, get a broadcast spreader. For smaller lawns and tiny areas, a handheld spreader will do the trick or you can simply spread the seed by hand.
After seeding your lawn, you’ll need to fertilize it. Using the same spreader as you did in the previous step, apply a starter fertilizer to be sure the new seed receives its essential nutrients.
Note: if your lawn has a lot of exposed dirt, plan to lightly cover the seed and fertilizer with more soil, straw or a mulch pellet (such as Penn Mulch) in order to protect the seed from sun and other elements within the first couple of weeks.
Just like brand-new seeded and sodded lawns, overseeded lawns need constant watering. Keep the seed and soil moist by frequently watering in the morning and afternoon/evening for the first week. During the second week, water heavily every-other day until the third week, when you can return to watering as needed.
Not enough time to tackle this DIY before winter? Don’t worry, we’re on it. Contact us today and we’ll take care of the rest.