A beautiful lawn isn’t grown just by chance or time. The secret to having a green and proper lawn is to work at it. The lawn of your dreams can be achieved within a season or two by performing a series of landscaping projects at the right time of the year. Overseeding your lawn is something almost everybody recommends, but is overseeding worth it? I’ll tell you what to expect, and why I think it’s one of the best things you can do for your lawn in today’s article.
The idea that spreading seed over your existing lawn will have a big impact is a tough sell for homeowners who haven’t tried overseeding before. Isn’t that just throwing expensive seed away? Will the new grass even grow or will it be crowded out by existing grass? You probably have a lot of doubts and questions.
In today’s article, I’ll go over why overseeding is worth it. I’ll also cover how annual overseeding will keep your lawn thick, healthy, and beautiful, and share some tips to help you maximize your investment and get great results.
Let’s start with the basics.
What is Overseeding?
Overseeding is simply spreading grass seeds over existing ones on your lawn without turning the soil first.
The advantage of overseeding is that you don’t have to kill an existing lawn to start over from scratch. Instead, with minimal effort, you can keep your lawn from thinning out and revitalize it with healthy young grass each year.
Overseeding is a way of thickening the thin and patchy areas on a lawn. It is a process of setting grass seeds for growth in the turf of an existing lawn without any major structural work to your turf. Vacant and bare spots in a lawn are filled to make the lawn thicker, enhance its color, and establish new, hardy varieties of grasses in the lawn.
Why is Overseeding Important?
There are various benefits of overseeding your lawn. Some of them are:
- Overseeding helps to revive worn-out lawns. It is an easy way to bring a lawn back to a healthy state – lush, thick, and green, without reseeding, buying sod, or starting the lawn all over again from scratch.
- Spreading seed on an established lawn can make it more resilient to insects, drought, diseases, and other tough conditions which may be causing your lawn to struggle.
- Overseeding is a natural and cost-effective way of reducing the need for pesticides, water, and fertilizer.
- Overseeding enhances the color and consistency of your lawn’s appearance. It can also prevent weeds from growing by helping to thicken your lawn’s canopy and preventing light from hitting the soil.
Above all, overseeding a lawn makes it healthy and rejuvenates it. A renovated and healthy lawn looks thicker and retains an attractive green color.
For me, overseeding is definitely worth it and it’s one of the easiest projects any homeowner can take to improve the appearance of their yard.
You just need to do it at the right time of year, and make sure you prep properly. Let’s discuss that now.
What to Do Before You Overseed Your Lawn
Some problems lead to any lawn looking thin, worn and lacking color. You need to identify and work to correct these issues before overseeding.
Some of these problems include:
- Poor condition or fertility of the soil
- Improper drainage of water on your lot
- Lack of irrigation or insufficient water
- Insufficient sunlight
- Unsuitable grass varieties for the area
- Damage or disease due to improper care of the lawn
You should identify and address these problems to get the best result.
Overseeding isn’t a miracle cure-all for lawns, and it’s important to identify gaps in your lawn maintenance plan and correct those to support your rejuvenated lawn.
I recommend that you do a soil test to identify macro and micro nutrients your lawn lacks, a poor pH level, and more soil-based problems that are easy to correct by ammending with the proper fertilizer and supplements. I currently use this soil test kit from Amazon and highly recommend it.
Best Overall Lawn Soil Test Kit
The Soil Test Kit I Use & Recommend
There are many options for testing your lawn’s soil, but I prefer a lab-based soil test that provides a detailed analysis of your soil’s nutrients and what’s needed for your lawn to thrive.
I use this one from MySoil every year.
And if you’re interested in taking the guesswork out of what to do next after you get your soil test results, consider Sunday’s subscription lawn-care plan. They test your soil for you and use local weather data to send you exactly what your lawn needs, when it needs it. It’s pretty fool-proof – you can Click Here for Your Instant Lawn Analysis and take 12% off your order with promo code LAWNCHICK2023.
Before you overseed you should mow your lawn shorter than usual and you can consider dethatching or aerating your yard. In my experience aerating while overseeding can be especially beneficial.
When Should You Overseed Your Lawn?
The ideal time to overseed your lawn really depends upon where you live and what type of grass you’re planting.
Here is some general information to guide you toward achieving the best result possible:
The best season to overseed a lawn is in the fall. This is because the condition of the soil and atmospheric temperature is favorable for healthy lawn growth at this time of year, and annual weeds are starting to die and won’t compete with your seedlings for water, light, and nutrients.
Soil is also still warm from the heat of summer, meaning you’ll see great germination.
In late summer or early fall, there is still plenty of sunlight with adequate moisture to support young grass with proper irrigation. The warm soil of summer enhances germination, and the cool air of fall speeds up growth. This season is best for cool-season grasses in northern climates.
While you can successfully overseed northern lawns in spring, there are more challenges you’ll face. Soil is still warming up, which can lead to poor or delayed germination, annual weeds are preparing to vigorously grow (and will thrive in the conditions created when overseeding), and there’s a very narrow window of when you can plant that provides time for your new grass to establish the root system needed to survive the heat and drought of summer.
You can have success overseeding in spring, but it will require more irrigation deeper into the summer for most northern lawns. Your money and time will be better spent in the fall.
In the south, overseeding is best in mid spring, around the time lilacs start blooming. This allows your soil to warm sufficiently, and warm season grasses grow best in summer, so your new lawn will have several months to establish itself prior to winter dormancy.
In late spring and midsummer, there can be greater chances of heat, drought, diseases, and competition of weeds with grasses.
Germination and growth is possible if weeds are properly controlled and there is adequate water supply and other treatment practices.
Grass that Makes Overseeding Worth It
I have an article which speaks directly about the best grass seed for overseeding and can help guide you in making a good selection for your property and climate.
In general, though, make sure that you choose a warm-season grass seed in southern climates, and a cool season grass seed in northern climates.
I typically recommend choosing a blend of grass seed. This allows different grasses to become dominant in different light and water conditions around your property. The end result is that you’ll see a nice consistent green across your yard.
I also recommend that you choose a seed blend with at least one type of grass that spreads laterally via rhizomes (like Kentucky Bluegrass), which will help your lawn thicken, and allow your grass to repair itself when damaged by dogs, kids, or vehicles.
How is Overseeding Done?
There are different ways to overseed your lawn, which vary based on your lawn, soil type, and more conditions.
However, the three main ways of overseeding are:
- Slit-seeding with a mechanical overseeder that you rent locally,
- Using a broadcast or drop spreader, or
- Spreading seed by hand.
Slit Seeding To Overseed
Slit seeding is the best method for overseeding a lawn. It ensures that seeds get into the soil to aid in germination.
A slit or slice seeder has concave disk blades that open up the soil, and a series of tubes which align with those disks and allow your seed to drop into the shallow cuts made in your lawn.
In this method, fewer seeds are needed, as they are directly put into the soil. It ensures seed-to-soil contact and provides excellent, even coverage.
When using an overseeder I recommend that you spread half of your seed in a North-South pattern across your lawn, then spread the other half traveling East-West. This cross-hatch pattern across your entire lawn ensures that you get a beautiful, even result.
Using a Spreader
A broadcast spreader is another effective method of overseeding. It doesn’t ensure seed-to-soil contact the way a machine designed specifically for the job does, but when you dethatch or aerate your lawn prior to spreading seed in this way you can see great results.
In either of these methods, equipment rental will help you achieve professional results, and whether you rent a power rake to dethatch your lawn, or a core aerator (instead of renting an overseeder) will depend upon the condition of your yard.
The Spreader I Use & Recommend
I’ve owned and used a number of different broadcast spreaders, and if you want the best one available, I recommend The Andersons Yard Star spreader. It is American made, can hold 50 pounds of material, rolls smoothly and easily, and is the most accurate spreader I’ve ever used.
Overseeding by Hand
If you have a small yard or are only overseeding certain areas of your lawn, then you can always broadcast the seed by hand.
After you cast it out, I recommend taking the back of a leaf rake to gently spread the seed evenly and work it into the soil.
What Overseeding Equipment is Right For You?
- If your soil is compact and would benefit from aeration, rent an aerator and overseed with a spreader.
- If your lawn has a thick layer of thatch, rent or buy a dethatcher and overseed with a spreader.
- Lawns which are in good condition already should be overseeded with a slit seeder.
The Process of Overseeding
A few things are key to your success when overseeding your lawn. These are:
- Mow grass low: Before overseeding is done, grasses should be cut shorter than normal. The top layer of soil should be raked to remove debris. This enables the grass seed to take root in the soil, and prevents existing grass from shading out your seedlings.
- Choose the best grass seeds: Choose grass seed based on what grows best in your area and has the look you want.
- Improving the soil: Before grass seeds are planted, topdress and rake a thin layer of screened compost into the lawn. Make sure you don’t kill the existing grass on the lawn. Spread about 1/4″ of material. This organic material will feed your lawn and keep your seed moist.
- Spread the seeds: If a spreader is being used, it should be adjusted according to directions. Applied seeds should not be spread on a windy day, but when the air is calm, so even distribution of seeds is ensured. Make certain a heavy rain isn’t in the forecast, or you risk your seed being washed to low areas in your yard.
Once new grass has been planted, apply starter fertilizer (I like this one from Scotts) and cover the seed with a light mulch.
Make sure to water regularly for best results. This ensures the fast and healthy growth of newly planted grass seeds and enriches formerly existing grasses.
Care After Overseeding Your Lawn
Is overseeding worth it? Only if you make regular maintenance of your lawn a priority after you overseed your yard.
Once your new seedlings have been mowed once at 2-3 weeks, you can return to normal mowing and maintenance.
- Immediately after overseeding is completed, the lawn should be watered to help grass seed settle into slits or aeration holes.
- Before grass seeds germinate, the lawn should be watered lightly daily for about one to two weeks. Your seed should remain moist, but not soaking wet.
- After grass seeds germinate, slowly transition to less frequent and more deep waterings. This encourages your new grass to grow deeper roots to seek out that water, and makes your lawn grass more resilient and hardy.
- Bag the clippings on your first mow, and don’t mow more than 1/3 of the new grass blade. Bagging the clippings ensures none of your new seedlings are smothered.
- After your first mow normal irrigation, mowing, and maintenance of your lawn can resume.
Is Overseeding Worth It?
Overseeding your lawn is a straightforward process that is easy for any homeowner to do themselves. It delivers positive results when done in the right way, at the right time of year. And it’s a fairly foolproof way to improve the look and feel of your lawn.
I consider overseeding to be a fantastic method to rejuvenate and thicken up a neglected lawn. Even a well-maintained yard will benefit from this project.
Quality grass seed is expensive, but as lawn care projects go, overseeding offers one of the best returns on your investment. It is some of the best money spent on your lawn each year.
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