How to Overseed Your Lawn

Unlike most words that begin with prefix “over” (overdue, overeat, overcook etc) overseeding is actually a good thing.  It can help to renew or renovate a neglected lawn or can help to keep a well maintained yard green even in the “off” season.  With the right timing you can keep your grass green all year.  Climates vary so the appropriate time to seed may vary but the general procedure is the same no matter when that right time is.

How to Prepare Your Lawn for Overseeding

Any important project consists of two basic parts.  Preparation, and follow through.  In the case of over seeding, the more thoroughly and completely you prepare the soil and surface the more likely it is that your efforts will prove to be effective and provide you with a lawn you can be proud of.

  1. Cut your grass as low to the ground as possible.  It very nearly needs to be “scalped”
  2. Aerate.  Aeration allows the seeds to get more oxygen which will allow them to grow deeper, stronger roots.
  3. Seeds…and a lot of them.  Some percentage of seeds will be “duds” or may be eaten or may otherwise fail before taking root.  Use twice as many as you might normally think.
  4. Fertilizer.  A thin layer of fertilizer, both before and after aeration, will protect and nourish the seed and help to incorporate it in the ground.
  5. Watering.  The equivalent of about one inch of rainfall over the seeded area will help your seed get a strong start.

These are the basic steps, but after having done these to the best of your ability there are a few follow up steps that will ensure your work does not go to waste.

  • The sown seeds should be moistened within 15 minutes of spreading.
  • Whether you use your hands or a mechanical spreader, make sure to spread the seed evenly.
  • Take care to keep foot traffic and animals away from the seeded area.
  • Use a rake to ensure that corners and small areas get seeded.

If your soil fails to respond to the careful preparations, application of seed, and regular watering regimen or if you have noticed that other landscaping projects have failed despite your most earnest efforts, you may want to have your soil tested.  There a number of services online and possibly locally, that can test your soil.   High levels of certain minerals, chemicals or problems with alkali or acidic balance can create an almost impossible growing situation until the soil imbalance issues are corrected.

Check online or with any qualified, experienced horticulturalist for tips on how to do this.

If you run into growing problems it may also be that the tools you have been using or the seeds you have picked are not appropriate for your growing zone.  Check with local growers for advice on the right of kind of aerators, spreaders and seed

If it seems you have tried everything and modified every variable and you are still unable to keep your yard green there is a last resort.

In recent years there have a number of different types of “super” seeds developed that promise to survive the highest and lowest temperatures and claim to need next to no water to survive.   These use specially designed and proprietary fertilizer encapsulated seeds that contain special additives that can grow in almost any condition.

Yard work is often hard work so take your time, be patient, and do not expect results overnight.  Follow these tips and consult local experts to increase your chances of a year-round green lawn.

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