Overseeding for better greening.
When you think lawn care, spring may be the first thing that comes to mind, but the fact is back-to-school is perhaps an even better time to treat your lawn to some TLC. Fertilizing, compact aeration, composting and compost tea all are excellent ways to help your lawn looks its best, but perhaps the most important fall activity is to thicken your lawn by “overseeding” with new grass seed. Yes, a thicker lawn looks better, but the real secret is that a thicker lawn helps crowd out weeds naturally, without resorting to chemical weed killers.
Why do it now.
Back to school is always a little crazy, but if you can squeeze in a couple of hours, here are a few reasons why late August through September is the best time to grow new grass seeds and get that thick green lawn that will be the envy of your neighborhood. While daytime temperatures are on the decline, below the surface the soil retains its warmth – and warm soil helps seeds germinate faster. Back-to school season also brings more rainfall – not great for football, but super helpful for seed germination. Cooler temperatures also reduce insect infestation and disease. And last but not least, weeds don’t germinate during cooler fall days, so your new grass won’t have to compete with new weeds.
How to Overseed Your Lawn
- Mow at the lowest possible setting. Use a grass-catcher if you have one, lumps of cut grass will interfere with new seed germination.
- Use a grass rake to remove all dead grass and twigs - ensuring good contact between the new seed and soil.
- If your lawn soil is compacted (hard to pierce with a shovel or spade) have the lawn aerated, allowing moisture reach the seeds and roots. You can rent a DIY machine, or call Mahoney’s Safelawns and we’ll do it for you.
- Spread a high quality seed for a more disease-resistant, drought-tolerant, attractive lawn. Note: overseeding uses half the seed as new lawn seeding.
- Apply a quality seed starting fertilizer to provide the phosphorus needed to establish strong roots.
- Spread a 1/2-inch layer of compost over the seed –– this is important to improve the soil and will help keep moisture near the seeds.
- Water consistently. Grass seeds will absolutely die if they’re allowed to dry out, so your number one job is to keep them moist for at least 3 weeks. Watering should be shallow — getting the top 1/4 inch wet is enough — but you may have to water twice a day especially if it’s hot. Warning: Allowing new seed to dry out for even a day or two can ruin the grass seed you just spread.
- After 3 weeks, you can water less frequently but more deeply.
- Do not mow until the old grass reaches 3 inches.
Got Bare Patches? Seed Now, Too
- Remove all dead grass roots and debris with garden rake or cultivator.
- If your soil has the consistency of clay, spread some compost over the area. If your lawn is compacted, do compact soil aeration.
- Smooth with a rake or smaller tool, like your hand.
- Sprinkle a modest (not too thick) layer of premium grass seed over the spot.
- Add a quality organic or traditional seed starting fertilizer.
- Gently tamp the seed and fertilizer down so it doesn't easily wash away when you water.
- Apply a thin (1/4 inch) layer of straw, sifted compost, or soil-less growing medium as mulch.
- Water at least daily to keep the seeds constantly moist for 3 weeks, as you would for overseeding the whole lawn.
Yes, it looks like a lot of steps, but overseeding is not rocket science, doesn’t take all that much work and really isn’t very expensive. Plus year after year you’ll be rewarded with an easer to maintain, more beautiful lawn. One final note: don’t procrastinate –– new grass roots need time to establish before frost, so for best results make sure to overseed before mid-October. Questions? Stop in to any Mahoney’s – we’ll talk you through it.
Now let's hear your fall lawn care secrets.
Got any fall lawn care tips or helpful suggestions that you'd like to share? Leave a comment and let us know your recipe for successful fall lawn care.