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How To: Overseeding Your Lawn in the Spring

How To: Overseeding Your Lawn in the Spring

27 Apr 2023 Author: Tom Black Read time: 4 min

Spring Overseeding — What, Why, How and When

Overseeding in the spring is a great way to cover up bare spots and enhance the density of your lawn turf. By planting new grass seedlings  into your lawn without tearing up your existing turf and soil, you can establish improved grass varieties that will beef up the look of your yard and bring lush, enhanced color to your landscaping. 

Why Should you Overseed?

Whether because the original grass planted wasn’t compatible with the climate in your area, you’ve had drought stress, or have suffered from  common disease and pests along with wear and tear, overseeding can bring your lawn and turf back to life with a few simple steps.

Hire a Professional or DIY?

You can do your overseeding on your own or hire professionals to do the work for you. A professional lawn and landscape expert can evaluate your property to see if they can identify what is causing your patchy or dull lawn issues and design a comprehensive plan for you. But if you like to get your hands dirty, overseeding can be done as a DIY project. 

When Should you Overseed?

When choosing the best time to overseed your lawn, consider the climate where you live. While most mentions of overseeding refer to it as spring overseeding, if you live in cooler, northern climates, the best time to overseed is in  late summer or early fall. Spring overseeding works best when you live in southern, hotter climates. The idea is to overseed when soil temperatures are warm enough for the seeds to develop, but it isn’t so hot that scorching will cause issues for the new growth. This time buffer gives the seedlings time to grow before the summer heat kicks in.

Tools Needed to Overseed Your Lawn

If you choose to aerate your lawn before overseeding, you will need that additional equipment, but most homeowners only need the basics for this task

Lawn Mower

Rake

• Seed Spreader (walk-behind or tow-behind)

How to Overseed Your Lawn

Step One ­­— Prep your Lawn

The whole point of overseeding is to plant fresh seeds into your soil, so your first step is to review your turf and see if there is thatch, which is a layer of organic matter that accumulates on a lawn around the base of the grass plants. Thatch could be leaves, lawn clippings, weeds or any material that is decomposing but still creates a barrier to your soil and roots. If this is too thick, it is good to aerate or dethatch your lawn before overseeding. 

Then, prep your lawn for overseeding by using the lowest setting on your mower and cutting your lawn very short. Typically, after mowing, you might leave your clippings to provide cover and nutrients, but for overseeding you will want to rake your lawn to remove any remaining debris and thatch and loosen the top layer of soil.

Pro tip: Make sure you reset your mower height after this step, so you don’t accidentally mow your lawn too short the next time you mow.

Step Two – Applying Seed

Choosing the best seed for your lawn also requires knowing your climate and soil type to select the right seeds for your region and yard conditions. Then, follow the package instructions closely. 

We recommend using a seed spreader to make the job faster and ensure that the seed spreads evenly. If you aerated before overseeding, you need to choose a grass seed that spreads quickly, like bluegrass and other warm-season grasses like Bermuda. If you use bunching grasses like fescue, the seed will likely get caught in the aeration holes, creating a patchy or clumpy lawn.

Pro tip: Applying a specialized lawn starter fertilizer will increase the number of grass seedlings that survive to adulthood. For best results, apply a starter fertilizer within three days over overseeding.

Step Three — Watering and Maintaining your Overseed

Watering and maintaining your lawn after overseeding are critical. You need to water the seeds into your lawn immediately after you spread them, and then continue to water your lawn daily until the seeds germinate. Most seeds can take hold in 10 days to two weeks. After overseeding, the first watering should be heavy (about an inch of water). Then you can resume with lighter watering like you would do any time you are watering your lawn. Be sure to water every few days during this process. When the new grass is established and has grown the same length as your existing lawn, water following the directions for your specific blend of grass. 

Pro tip: While you are working to establish your new grass, try to limit activity on the lawn and avoid mowing if you can. Once the grass is the same height as the existing lawn, you are good to go with your regular mowing and watering schedule. 

Everyone wants to have a lush, green lawn or maybe have the lawn that is the envy of your neighborhood. These simple steps to spring overseeding once a year can help you establish a thick turf with vibrant colors and no bare patches that can ruin the look of your lawn and landscaping
Tom Black

Tom Black is an Account Manager with RDO Equipment Co. in Aberdeen, South Dakota. He enjoys working with customers on all their lawn and garden needs, with his range of knowledge covering everything from small lawn mowers up to John Deereā€™s 5 Series Compact Utility Tractors.

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