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?”

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,, 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.