Thicken Your Lawn: It’s Time For Overseeding!

overseeding

Overseeding, sometimes called reseeding, is the process of distributing grass seed over an existing lawn. According to information provided by Pennington Seed, there are two primary reasons for seeding existing turf in this manner. First, to either rejuvenate a patchy or thinning lawn or to prevent one. Many grass types will thin out as part of their natural maturing process. Your turf may also develop thinning or bare spots due to the stresses of heavy traffic as well as certain diseases or pests. Simply put, if your lawn is receding, consider reseeding.

Purpose of Overseeding a Lawn

Lawn care professionals will frequently use overseeding as a preventative measure. Instead of waiting for the thin areas or bare spots to appear, they will reseed the lawn so that the new grass plants appear before the weak areas are able to develop. Rather than fixing a poor-looking lawn, this proactive approach keeps the turf looking full, green, and healthy.

The second reason for overseeding is to bring up color when warm season grasses go dormant in winter. This is done by seeding the warm season lawn with a cool season grass seed mix that will produce color during those months when the warm season grasses are dormant. It may seem odd to plant cool season grass seed on a warm season lawn but the very conditions that cause the warm season grass to go dormant—milder daytime conditions and cooler nighttime temperatures—will allow the cool season grass to thrive, if only temporarily. The desired result is year-round green color.

How and When to Reseed

So far we’ve looked at what overseeding is and why to do it. Now let’s address when and how. Cool season grasses of the northern regions enter a period of vigorous growth during late summer and early fall. The soil is still warm enough for the seed to germinate and the cooler temperatures, along with moist conditions, stimulate growth. This is the best time to overseed a northern lawn, with spring being the second best.

By comparison, warm season grasses experience their active growth beginning in late spring, which makes that the better time to overseed a thinning lawn or to prevent one. If winter color in a southern lawn is the goal, fall is the time—just as the existing warm season grass is beginning to turn brown and go dormant.

Without proper preparation and execution, one can spend a great deal of money on overseeding and not see great results. In order for grass seed to become grass plants, it must have an opportunity to germinate and thrive. Simply distributing seed, even good seed, over a lawn may not be good enough, especially if the soil is compacted, there is an excessive thatch layer, or both.

Improve Your Lawn With Core Aeration

Grass seed that cannot get into the soil and receive the necessary moisture and nutrients has a good chance of becoming bird food. Spring-Green’s core aeration service disrupts the surface of the lawn and the soil beneath it by extracting plugs of soil and plant material and then depositing them on the lawn’s surface. This process helps loosen compacted soil and break down thatch, allowing water, nutrients and grass seed to penetrate the soil. For this reason, we recommend scheduling core aeration and overseeding in combination.

Proper seed selection is also important. Use a quality seed mix that is well-matched to your growth region as well as to your overseeding objective. One objective may be to thicken an existing lawn without substantially altering the grass type. Another is to augment the turf by introducing additional grass types to it, such as the introduction of cool season grass seed to a warm season lawn in order to enhance winter color.

Watering, feeding, and weed control practices during the weeks following core aeration and overseeding may also vary according to the specific needs of your lawn. Contact your neighborhood lawn care professional at Spring-Green to obtain more information, ask questions, or schedule this service.

DIY Core Aeration – Is Aerating Your Lawn Worth It?

core aeration

Of all the beneficial things you could do to ensure a healthy, beautiful lawn, core aeration is second only to fertilization. By disrupting the surface of the lawn and the soil beneath it, core aeration allows more air, water, and nutrients to reach the turf’s root zone. This in turn encourages better lawn root development below the surface and—you guessed it—healthier, thicker, greener plant growth above. Compacted soils are loosened, restrictive layers of surface-level thatch are broken, and your turf uses these improvements to its natural advantage, growing stronger and healthier as the surface repairs itself.

Virtually all U.S. regions and all common turfgrasses can benefit from regular aeration. What differs somewhat is the timing. According to information provided by Bayer Advanced, the best time to aerate a lawn is prior to a period of vigorous growth, during which the lawn can best recover from the disruption intentionally created by the aeration process. For cool season grasses, that time is late summer into early fall, making sure to allow at least a month of growing time before the threat of frost sets in. For warm season grassses, late spring to early summer is your best bet.

DIY (Do It Yourself) Core Aeration

Is core aeration worth it for your lawn? Yes, absolutely! Is it worth doing it yourself? Let’s weigh the options of do-it-yourself (DIY) aeration versus having the work done by a professional lawn care service.

No matter who does it, the work is performed using a specialized core aeration machine. This is a powerful and somewhat heavy motorized device that drives hollow tines several inches into the ground, extracts plugs of soil and plant material, and then deposits them on the surface as it moves forward. The desired result is a visible pattern of holes in the ground and plugs laying on the turf. Over time, the holes will be filled in with loosened soil, new roots, and grass plants, while the plugs break down and assist in the decomposition of the thatch layer that builds up on the soil surface.

This would be a piece of cake if the machine did all the work and the operator merely had to throw a switch on or off, but such is not the case. The machine operator controls where the machine goes, taking special care to avoid damage to irrigation heads, pavement features, flower beds, children’s toys, and other common obstacles. The operator must also determine whether soil conditions are favorable before commencing the operation. The key concern here is moisture. Soggy soil will clog the tines whereas overly dry soil will be difficult at best to penetrate. Aerating during a prolonged period of drought or excessive heat may do more harm than good.

The application of additional grass seed to an existing lawn, sometimes called overseeding or reseeding, is best done immediately following core aeration of a lawn. Fertilizer applications are also more effective at this time. This is because the openings caused by the aeration process make it easier for the new seed and/or nutrients to penetrate the soil. Obviously the individual applying these materials must know what to apply and at what rate.

Better To Do It Yourself or Hire a Professional?

So which provides the better value for core aeration, DIY or using a professional lawn care service? Consider the following.

● Who will transport the core aeration machine to and from your property?
● Who will determine whether conditions are favorable to aerate your lawn?
● Who will ensure the safe and effective operation of the core aeration machine?
● Who will be responsible for any damage incurred to properly identified obstacles?
● If applicable. who will be responsible for properly overseeding/reseeding your lawn?
● If applicable. who will be responsible for properly fertilizing the lawn after aeration is completed?

When properly performed, under favorable conditions and at the appropriate time, core aeration will most assuredly benefit your lawn, whether you do it yourself or bring in a lawn care professional. With that said, if you have questions or concerns about core aeration or any aspect of caring for your lawn, please do not hesitate to contact your neighborhood lawn care professional at Spring-Green. We have a wealth of professional lawn care experience to share with you.

Rejuvenate Your Lawn with Core Aeration and Reseeding

core aeration and reseeding

For cool-season turfgrass, fall is a time of renewal and recovery from the stresses of summer heat. As the temperatures start to moderate and rainfall increases, the turf plants will start growing new roots and new plants to replace those that were damaged or even killed during the summer. Spring may be the time when other landscape plants start to grow, but fall is the time of regrowth for cool-season turfgrasses with core aeration.

Cool season turfgrasses like Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, fine fescue and tall fescue have varying degrees of tolerance to heat and drought:

 

Heat ToleranceDrought Tolerance
Fine FescueGoodVery Good
Kentucky BluegrassGood to PoorGood
Perennial RyegrassGoodGood
Tall FescueVery GoodVery Good

 

These ratings are based on an average summer.  If conditions are extreme, the turf will suffer.  For example, roots of Kentucky bluegrass will start to die when soil temperature in the top inch of soil will start to die. All these grasses can survive about 28 days without water, but they all will thin out if a drought lasts much longer than 28 days.

Fall Core Aeration

One constant in lawn care is that all lawns will benefit from an annual core aeration. Core aeration is performed by a machine that travels across the lawn and has a series of tines built in that puncture the soil and remove 2 to 3-inch-long plugs or cores of soil and thatch and deposits the them back on the lawn’s surface. This process will open the lawn to provide more air, water and nutrients into the turf root zone. Strengthening the roots is key to having a healthy lawn.

The best time to do core aeration on a a cool-season lawn is in the fall, from mid-August through mid-December. A lawn can also go through aeration in the spring, but the optimum time is in the fall. The roots of cool season turf grow best when soil temperatures are in the range of 60 to 80 degrees. Even if the lawn is aerated before the soil temperatures drop to these favorable levels, the aerification process will be completed to help promote better root growth when the temperatures drop.

Fall Lawn Reseeding

A great time for lawn reseeding is shortly after it has been core has gone through aeration. Grass seed needs to come in contact with soil and receive adequate moisture to remain viable once the germination process begins. A good portion of the seed will end up in the core holes, which ends up being a great place for the seed to germinate. The soil in the core holes will be cooler and remain moist and the seed will have a much better chance of germinating. Soil temperatures for seed germination for the different cool season grasses are:

 

Kentucky Bluegrass59 to 86°
Fine Fescue59 to 77°
Perennial Ryegrass68 to 86°
Tall Fescue68 to 86°

 

Even if your area did not have to endure any extreme heat or drought this past summer, having the lawn aerated and reseeded will help ensure an even better lawn next year. One other important part of a fall lawn overseeding program, it needs to be completed early enough for the seed to germinate and sufficiently grow before inclement weather sets in for the winter. In the colder parts of the cool-season areas, try to have the seeding completed by the end of September. If you are in the more southern part of the cool season areas, you have more time, but you should try to have it completed by end of October.

If you are interested in having your lawn core aerated and overseeded this fall, contact your neighborhood lawn care professional at Spring-Green and make arrangements to rejuvenate your lawn this fall.