Should You Overseed Your Lawn This Spring?

lawn

A common question we receive in the spring is in regards to overseeding your lawn.  If you live in an area with warm season grasses, like Centipede or Bermuda grass, reseeding is not a very common practice and it does not work all that well. For those who live in areas where cool-season grasses like bluegrass or turf-type tall fescue grow, seeding can be a successful and a necessary part of caring for your lawn.

The best time to overseed an existing lawn is late summer until early fall. If you did not have a chance to do so last year, it might be something you want to take care of this spring.

You can overseed in the spring, but here are 4 important aspects that you should consider:

  1. Be conscious of the season for crabgrass preventers – If you seed in spring, you cannot apply most standard crabgrass preventers. These materials keep crabgrass seeds from germinating, as well as the new seeds. In the past if crabgrass has been a problem in your lawn, it would be advisable to wait until the fall to start overseeding. For most crabgrass materials, there is a 16 week waiting period between seeding and applying a crabgrass preventer.
  2. Be conscious of the season for broadleaf weed controlBroadleaf weed control is the same as crabgrass preventers, except the waiting time is less. If a broadleaf weed control is applied to an area, the standard wait time before seeding is 3 to 4 weeks. Once the new grass has germinated and become established, it has to be mowed two or three times before any weeds can be sprayed.
  3. Aerate before broadcasting seed – One of the best methods to ensue good germination is to aerate the lawn first before broadcasting seed across the area. Broadcasting seed across an established lawn will result in little to no germination.
  4. Water, water, water – Finally water is critical to the success of seeding at any time of the year. Once the seed germinates, the roots are tiny and have an immediate need for water.  If the roots dry out, the seed will die. Be sure you have some way to provide adequate water once the seed has been broadcast across the area. The best method is to have an automatic sprinkler system. If the system has not been started for the year when you complete the seeding, you may have to manually water the areas until your system is turned on. Depending on the variety of seed, you may need to keep the area moist for 4 to 6 weeks after seeding.

As you can see, seeding in the spring is not the easiest thing to do, especially when dealing with weeds. It is often better to keep the weeds down throughout the summer and then complete the seeding in the fall.  If you are a Spring-Green customer, contact your local Spring-Green and they will advise you with the best information on helping your lawn looks its best.

Dormant Seeding: Is There Still Time To Seed Cool-Season Turfgrasses?

soil plugs from core aeration

Even though much of the northern US has been enjoying a warmer than normal fall, it will soon be turning cooler in the next couple of weeks. If you are still planning to seed, you may want to consider dormant seeding at this time of year.

When Can I Begin Dormant Seeding?

Dormant seeding works best when the soil temperature drops below 50°F or when the ground is frozen, providing that snow is not covering the lawn. If soil temperatures are too high, it can result in the seed germinating too soon. This causes the germinated seed to succumb to frost or freezing temperatures in the coming weeks.

The easiest way to check the temperature of the soil is to use a digital meat thermometer. Stick it in the ground to a depth of about two inches to take the reading. (Be sure to wipe it off before using it in your Thanksgiving turkey.)

What Is the Process for Dormant Seeding?

Another important aspect of dormant seeding (really, overseeding in general) is having good “seed to soil” contact. If you sow seed across an established area without much exposed soil, only a small portion will germinate. The easiest way to achieve good seed to soil contact on an existing lawn is to core aerate it first. Be sure to do so before the ground freezes. The more you aerate, the more places for the seed to germinate, both from within the core holes and from the plugs that remain on the lawn.

What Kind of Seed Is Best for Dormant Seeding?

Purchase good seed that is free from weed seeds. Cheap seed will provide poor results. Here is a table that will help you decide how much seed you will need to buy based on the size of your lawn:

Seed Type Table

Can I Fertilize the Grass Seed Before Dormancy?

As long as the ground is not frozen, fertilizer can be applied, even in states that have a ban on the use of fertilizers that contain phosphorus. A balanced fertilizer with phosphorus can be applied on newly seeded areas. Phosphorus aids in the development of roots. Therefore, it is a beneficial nutrient to apply after seeding.

What Do I Do in the Spring?

Once you have spread your seed there is not much else to do until the following spring. Here are a couple of other considerations to keep in mind for the following spring:

• Delay applying crabgrass preventer until the middle of May or as late as possible. The product that inhibits the growth of crabgrass will also inhibit the new grass seed from germinating.
• Delay applying a broadleaf weed control application until the new seed has started to germinate and has been mowed at least two times.
• Applying an additional balanced fertilizer application will help the new seed germinate faster.
• Mow your lawn during the spring. It is important that as much sun as possible reach the seed you planted the previous fall. The soil has to reach above 50 degrees for the seed to germinate.

Dormant seeding will work, but you have to be patient. You will see the results by the following summer. And if you want the results without the work, we offer all of the services to get your lawn in shape—contact the Spring-Green nearest you for a free estimate.

Resuscitating a Dead Lawn with Core Aeration and Overseeding

Benefits of Core Aeration and Overseeding to your lawn

Harold Enger, Spring-Green’s Director of Education, received a question from a homeowner about fixing his dead lawn. After hearing about the problem, he recommended core aeration and overseeding to help revive the lawn.

“My lawn is brown with few things growing (even weeds). I believe it’s the result of rock hard soil. Last year a small patch of lawn was ripped up (gas line installation) and that patch now has green, healthy grass. I thought about tilling my entire lawn but its costly ($2k). I have aerated in the past but that has done nothing. But what if I were to aerate it A LOT at once (4-5 times) while throwing top soil down in the midst of aerating?”

Anthony,
Thank you for submitting you question. Your idea of core aerating several times is an excellent one. I suggest you core aerate in opposing directions, but the more holes you make, the better it will be for your yard. You also want to wait until the soil is moist so that the tines of the aerator can penetrate the ground to a decent depth of 2 to 3 inches. Either thoroughly water your yard or wait until it your area receives about ½ inch of rain.

Here are a couple of additional recommendations:

  1. Take a sample of your soil to either your county extension service or to a John Deere Landscapes retail store for a soil analysis. The results can take two weeks to get back, but that should not delay any of the other work that needs to be completed. The soil test will help you to determine the pH and nutrient requirements of the soil in your yard.
  2. Spreading top soil is a good idea, but I suggest you use humus compost to help improve the soil even more.
  3. After aerating and top dressing, I suggest you overseed your lawn with Turf-Type Tall Fescue. Together, core aeration and overseeding help combat lawn diseases and stresses and thicken the lawn with new grass plants ready to take hold in previously bare areas. After deciding on core aeration and overseeding, many people opt for purchasing cheap seed, but the results are usually poor. Again, a John Deere Landscape Store is a good place to purchase seed. You should use about 4 to 5 pounds of seed per 1,000 sq. ft. To find a John Deere Landscapes store near you, go to their website, www.johndeerelandscapes.com, click on “Our Locations” and enter your zip code. I did so and found many stores near Huntington. The closest one appears to be in Bethpage.
  4. Even though you have core aerated and overseeded your lawn, you may have to live with some weeds this fall. Broadleaf weed control cannot be applied until the new grass has germinated and mowed two or three times.
  5. After you have finished with your core aeration and overseeding, the most important recommendation is to make sure to water the newly seeded area for at least three weeks. It does not need a lot of water, but the areas should be kept moist for at least two weeks.

I hope these recommendations help. Feel free to contact me if you have any additional questions. Or, if you need professional assistance bringing your lawn back from the dead, get in touch with your local Spring-Green for core aeration, overseeding, fertilization, weed control, and more.