Have you noticed your lawn is looking a little patchy or limp? When’s the last time you seeded? Overseeding your lawn helps keep your grass stay full and keep growing. It will fill in areas damaged by the summer heat, insects, or diseases as well as generally enhancing your lawn’s ability to fight back against these stressors. Overseeding works!
Aerating and overseeding in the fall are keys to keeping your lawn healthy and growing. As the heavy heat of summer gives way to cool fall days, you’ll start to notice a layer of thatch, a tightly interwoven layer of living and dead plant matter, built up just below the grass blades. At this point, the roots of the grass are normally short, which is not ideal for lawn health. Underneath the thatch layer is compacted soil. The more compact the soil the easier for thatch to develop.
Aerating your lawn has a host of benefits. Some of the long-term benefits include microorganism growth, increased effectiveness of fertilizer use, and the prevention of run-off. It will increase the activity of microorganisms that grow in the soil, helping them to decompose thatch. A little after a week’s time, aeration will also improve how well your lawn uptakes and uses fertilizer. It’ll also help prevent fertilizer run-off from overly-compacted areas. Other long-term benefits include deeper infiltration of rainfall.
Aeration also includes a variety of short-term benefits such as:
- Improved water uptake and use
- Reduces soil compaction
- Enhanced oxygen movement between the soil and air
Only after aerating, is it time to consider overseeding. If you never overseed your lawn, it will simply grow old. If you’re consistently mowing your lawn, it never goes to seed and can’t propagate itself. Over time, your old lawn will start struggling with weeds and other stresses, resulting in slower growth. Also, new grass varieties are constantly coming to market. Integrating these new species — which might be resistant to drought, disease, or insects — is beneficial to your older, non-resistant lawn.
“Should I seed my lawn in the spring?” you may ask. It makes sense — spring is the time for growing things. While it’s completely okay to overseed in spring, many people find themselves too busy (spring activities) and end up waiting too long. By the time they think about aeration and overseeding, it’s already summer and new grass is much more reluctant to grow.
Also, if you apply a crabgrass prevention herbicide to your lawn regularly, it’s probably best to forego spring seeding anyway. Most pre-emergent or preventative herbicides will halt all seed germination for up to 3 months. That timeline puts you and your growing lawn right in the middle of summer.
Finally, the best time to overseed is right after aerating the lawn, and the best time to do this is fall. The long, cool nights and shorter, mild days are ideal conditions for seed germination. Seeds are better able to retain moisture, and seedlings will thrive without the oppressive heat of summer.
The first step in overseeding is to aerate your lawn. This process involves the removal of small soil plugs with an aerator. The plugs are are pulled from the ground leaving 2.5” – 4” holes in the lawn. Although the holes may look odd, they actually allow nutrients and water to go deep into the soil. It’s at this stage where the overseeding is actually done. To overseed your lawn, follow these steps:
- Apply the new seed with a fertilizer spreader, following the product’s recommended coverage rate.
- Go over your lawn with the backside of the rake to push more the grass seed into the aeration holes. This way they won’t dry out as quickly and will germinate faster.
- Follow the seeding with an application of your favorite fall fertilizer, applying it the same day as the seed
- Water the lawn.
During the final stage, the new grass plants will grow deep roots and your lawn will become dense and healthy again. Until the new grass begins to grow, you’ll want to water it once or twice every day until the new grass has begun to grow. The seed may need two weeks or more to germinate. After germination, you should continue to mow the lawn as usual until it stops growing for the season.
While you won’t be seeing the fruits of your labors this season, after spring rolls around — voila! Your once patchy and sad lawn will be green and growing once more.
Contact us with your questions ~ New Image Lawn & Scapes
Burke,Kelly. “Fall Lawn Overseeding”. the spruce. The Spruce. 7 August 2017. Web. 16 Sept 2017. https://www.thespruce.com/fall-lawn-overseeding-2152905
N.a. “All About Aeration and Overseeding”. Lawn Dog. Lawn Dog. n.d. Web. 16 Sept 2017. http://www.lawndawg.com/blog/all-about-aeration-and-overseeding
TruGreen. “The Ins and Outs of Overseeding Lawns in the Fall”. TRUGREEN. TruGreen Limited Partnership. 11 May 2013. Web. 17 Sept 2017. https://www.trugreen.com/blog/overseeding/why-is-fall-overseeding-important