Overseeding a lawn is part of annual lawn maintenance, the battle against patchy, thinning lawns continues. Contrary to popular belief, achieving a lush, green lawn is something that takes time, effort, and a lot of maintenance. A groundsman’s job doesn’t end once the grass grows in. In fact, that’s just the beginning.
I can’t stress enough the importance of overseeding your yard once a year. This process will fill in patches, thicken the existing grass, and ensure a nice, even coverage over the coming months. So, what is overseeding, why does it matter, and how do you do it?
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What Is Lawn Overseeding?
Lawn overseeding, or reseeding, refers to spreading grass seed over your existing lawn. It is a simple, straight forward process, but it can have a massive impact on the health and volume of your grass. Done correctly, it can completely revitalize a worn-out lawn.
However, many homeowners don’t know the importance of overseeding a lawn, underestimate its importance, or do it wrong. If you already have a lush lawn, you might not see the point in spreading seed over it. Reseeding isn’t just about replenishing grass, it’s also about ensuring the legacy of your current lawn.
Lawn overseeding is more of a precautionary measure than anything else. By filling in any gaps and thickening your grass, you’re preventing weed growth and compensating for any grass that dies. Pets, kids, and weather can all contribute to patchy, thin grass. By overseeding a lawn, you’re preparing it for the next year and making sure that it will grow back lush.
Best Time For Overseeding A Lawn
Timing is everything, especially when you’re landscaping. You should begin preparing to overseed approximately 1 week before spreading the seed, and you should plan to reseed during the fall.
Reseeding in late summer or early fall gives your seed time to take root in the warm soil, and the cool air will encourage growth. This helps strengthen your grass and prevent weeds from overwhelming your lawn come summer.
However, if you are planting warm-season grasses, you might want to hold off your reseeding until late fall or early winter. This ensures that your grass will grow in as soon as winter is over, giving you lush springtime growth.
You should avoid reseeding in the spring and summer. It might seem like an ideal time, but the hot, dry summer months will just put stress on your young grass. You should try to give your grass time to grow in before the summer. You should also avoid reseeding right before rainy weather. The downpour might flood your lawn and carry the seeds away.
Preparing Your Yard For Overseeding
It’s vital that you overseed a lawn correctly. Otherwise, your efforts will be pointless or yield lackluster results. If you fail to time your reseeding correctly, you’ll be losing money, time, and effort. Grass seed is expensive, so you need to make sure that you do it right the first time.
Before you begin overseeding a lawn, you should prepare your lawn to receive it. Otherwise, much of your seed will go to waste. You should prep your lawn by completing a few tasks:
Weed Your Yard.
Make sure your yard is weed-free before mowing and reseeding. Rip up the weeds at the roots, or use a weed-killer to kill the entire plant. If you’re using herbicides, make sure to handle all of the weed-killing a few weeks before seeding. This will ensure that your new grass won’t be affected by the chemicals.
Fertilize Your Yard.
If your grass hasn’t been fed in a few months, now is the time to give it some fertilizer. Make sure to spread this 3-4 days before reseeding, so it has time to settle in and take effect.
Mow Your Lawn Shorter Than Usual
You want the seeds to have as much contact with the soil as possible. You should mow ⅔ of the grass’ length (about 25mm) to make sure that the seeds don’t get caught in the grass.
Pick Up All Of The Grass Clippings
Again, you don’t want the seeds to get stuck above the soil. The more seed that penetrates the soil, the more successful your lawn overseeding will be.
Rake and Dethatch Your Lawn
You want to loosen the turf just enough for the seeds to take. This means you’ll need to rake and dethatch your lawn to leave the soil exposed. An iron rake will provide better results than a plastic one. You can also choose to spike your yard with a garden fork to loosen the turf further.
Moisturize The Soil
Give your yard a good soak before beginning the lawn overseeding process. Don’t flood it, but make sure to moisten the ground and make the soil easy to penetrate.
Overseeding A Lawn
Once you’ve thoroughly prepped your lawn, you can begin lawn overseeding. Before starting, double-check to make sure that you’re spreading the best grass seed for overseeding. You should try to buy a seed that matches your current grass, or contains a compatible grass type. Avoid buying bargain seed mixes; these usually contain low-quality seeds and undesirable grasses.
Preparing your lawn is the hard part, but this work will pay off once you begin overseeding. A well-prepped lawn will take the seeds easily, and you won’t have to worry about going over your yard multiple times.
Use a broadcast spreader to layer the seed evenly over your lawn. If you don’t have one, it’s recommended that you purchase one before reseeding. Hand-spreading your seed is time-consuming, and it can be difficult to get a thorough, even spread.
You should avoid using too much seed. Many websites and golf-course landscapers will recommend heavy seeding, but this can just lead to overcrowding and wasted resources. If your lawn is already thick, a maintenance-spread of about 2-4 pounds of seed for every 1000 square feet. If your lawn is patchy or thin, you can increase that number to 4-8 lbs per 1000 sq. ft.
The Importance of Aftercare and Maintenance
After overseeding a lawn, you need to stay on top of watering and give your seeds time to take root. Avoid soaking your lawn; “little and often” is the key phrase here. Give your yard a light mist once or twice a day, and avoid mowing it for a little while. Mowing might stress the newly-sprouted grass and put pressure on the roots.
Do not use weed killers after seeding. The grass is young and susceptible to poison, and you want to give the new grass the best chance of success possible. Try to take a hands-off approach to your freshly-seeded yard. Beyond regular waterings, try to leave it alone and give it space to grow.
Lawn overseeing is something that should be done every year, especially if your lawn sees regular foot traffic from pets, kids, and guests. Without proper reseeding, your grass will inevitably thin out and begin to show bare patches.
This is why having a good spreader on hand is important. Even if you only use it once a year, it can save you a lot of time and frustration while overseeding. Broadcast spreaders also encourage a more thorough, precise seeding, where hand-spreading usually leads to uneven seed spread.
You can find broadcast spreaders at hardware and gardening stores, but you might not have a large variety at your local retailers. There are many different types of spreaders, so which one you choose depends on your budget and personal preference. Spreaders typically come in one of four types:
- Handheld spreaders
- Shoulder spreaders
- Push spreaders
- Tow spreaders
Handheld spreaders are typically small and have a crank, though battery-powered options are available. Similar to handheld spreaders, shoulder-spreaders also come with a crank. However, they can hold more seeds at once, and the shoulder-strap bears the weight of the seed.
For larger lawns, people usually opt for push or tow spreaders. Push spreaders work like lawnmowers; you push the spreader across your yard, and it distributes an even layer of seed throughout the grass. As you walk behind it, you tamp the seeds into the earth. Tow spreaders can be dragged behind a lawn-mower or vehicle to seed great distances. These are great for golf course landscapers and people with large lawns.
The good thing about broadcast tools is that they can be used to spread other things as well: fertilizer, herbicide, and even ice melt.
Best Broadcast Spreaders
If you’re not sure which broadcast spreader to buy, you might feel overwhelmed by the number of options available. Those with small or average-sized lawns likely won’t need a heavy-duty tow spreader, but it’s still important to buy a tool that does the job well and lasts a long time.
This list will focus on the best hand and push spreaders available through Amazon.
Scotts Whirl Hand-Powered Spreader
If you’re looking for a simple, cheap spreader that will get the job done, the Scotts Hand-Powered Whirl Spreader is a safe bet. It won’t take long to seed a small yard, and hand-powered spreaders can easily last for years. The lack of moving parts makes them safe and easy to use, and there’s not much that can go wrong. On the flip side, if you decide that overseeding is too much effort and decide to hire a landscaper next year, you’re not out too much money.
The only downside to hand-spreaders is that the larger your yard, the longer it will take. This doesn’t include the time you’ll spend walking back to the seed bag to refill the spreader. If you’re reseeding a large area, you might want to look at some heftier options.
Earthway Hand Crank Bag Spreader
If you’re seeding a large yard or need to carry a lot of seed at once, the Earthway Bag Spreader might be the better choice. This spreader has a shoulder-strap to help you carry the seed, and the hand-crank makes it easy to overseed your lawn as you walk. If you want a reasonable, heavy-duty spreader that won’t take up too much space, this is a great option.
However, carrying the seed yourself can become exhausting, especially when you’re operating a hand-crank at the same time. If you’re need something a bit less intense, you might be better off investing in a push spreader.
Scotts Wizz Hand-Held Spreader
Another hand-held option from Scotts, but the Wizz Hand-Held Spreader comes with the added benefit of being battery-operated. Like the other hand-spreader, this tool is perfect for those with small lawns, and doesn’t require much effort to use. Just power it on and walk around your yard to get an even spread.
However, depending on how you look at it, the need for batteries can be a good or a bad thing. While you don’t have to pull a crank, you still have to refill the spreader and replace the batteries, and this spreader might break faster than a mechanical option.
Scotts Turf Builder EdgeGuard Broadcast Spreader
If you want a simple, reliable push-spreader, the Scotts Turf Builder is a great choice. As you walk behind it, the spreader will distribute the seed according to your settings. It comes with light and heavy spread options, so you can choose how much seed gets distributed. This spreader comes in four sizes, depending on the size of your yard and how much seed you need to carry.
All four sizes are well-made and sturdy, but only the largest spreader comes with rubber wheels. If you have a large yard or uneven terrain, you might run into trouble with the plastic wheels. Otherwise, this is a standard push-spreader.
Agri-Fab Push Broadcast Spreader
While the Agri-Fab Push Spreader is a bit pricier than the rest of the options on this list, but you’re getting what you pay for. This spreader is built for years of hard use, and comes with metal hardware and thick rubber wheels. Its large volume also makes it a good choice for someone with a large yard; it can distribute 130 pounds of seed in a single load.
This spreader might be well worth the money if you find yourself regularly spreading seed, ice melt, and fertilizer over a large area.