Overseeding a Lawn

How to Overseed a Lawn

Overseeding is the practice of spreading a layer of grass seeds over an existing lawn without tearing up the lawn or turning over the topsoil. Some of the common procedures of overseeding include lawn mowing and rakingsoil improvementtoss in the seedssoil fertilization and lawn watering. Turfgrass becomes thin with time; this is a natural process, especially if you make good use of your outdoor space. Overseeding helps the lawn retain its vigor by keeping the grass lush and dense.

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In this article, Eden will give a step-by-step process of overseeding your lawn correctly to get the best results.

1. Lawn Mowing and Raking

Lawn Mowing

The first step for overseeding your lawn is to mow your grass short. You can set your mower to two inches or less for this purpose. The ideal length of existing grass for overseeding is no more than an inch or an inch and a half. After mowing, bag all the grass clippings, so they don’t form a barrier between the seeds and the soil.

Then use a metal rake or a thatch rake to remove any thatch you find on your lawn. Thatch is loose, spongy organic matter that forms just below the layer of topsoil. If left for too long, thatch can lead to disease and insect infestation. 

To dethatch your lawn, rake the lawn in one direction and then move the rake in the opposite direction. Making passes in opposite directions will pull out the thatch.

It is important that the grass in your lawn is short so tall grass blades do not block the sunlight from reaching the seeds. Dethatching loosens and exposes the soil so that the seed can have enough contact with the soil to develop a strong root system.

2. Improve the Soil


Before starting the seeding process, it is essential to test the soil to determine if the soil has the right composition for the seeds to flourish. The soil should have a neutral pH, the right chemical composition and all the required nutrients according to the soil type. If the soil test reveals deficiencies in any of these aspects, the appropriate amendments need to be made.

If the pH test reveals that the soil is acidic, wood ash, poultry manure and lime can be used to neutralize it, and if your soil leans towards the basic side, then sulfur can be added to reduce the alkalinity. For soils that have a high composition of sand, clay and peat moss can be added to improve the nutritional content of the soil.An enriched layer of topsoil, about ¼ inch thick, can be added to your lawn to give the new seeds adequate soil to settle in. 

3. Toss in the Seeds

Next comes the actual seeding process. Fill up your lawn spreader with the recommended amount of product according to the label directions and apply it to the entire area you want to overseed.

For small-sized yards, you can use a handheld spreader; for medium-sized lawns (5000 to 15,000 square feet), you can use broadcast spreaders; and for large lawns (up to 20,000 square feet), you should use drop spreaders. If you want to overseed only small spots of your lawn, you can simply spread the seeds with your hand manually without using a lawn spreader.

The right seeding density depends on the thickness of your existing turfgrass. If your grass is too thin, you should increase the amount of product you use per square unit. Lawns that are not too bare will need fewer seeds per square unit.

It is important to choose the right grass seeds for overseeding based on the type of your existing turfgrass and your geographical location. For northern regions of the U.SEden Recommends using cool-season grass like Kentucky Bluegrass, Perennial Ryegrass, Bentgrass and the Fine Fescues, as they have the ability to tolerate slightly variable temperatures. 

4. Fertilize the Soil

Fertilize the Soil

After spreading the seeds, it is essential to provide them with all the necessary nutrients so that they can grow healthy and strong. Eden will provide some guidelines on how to fertilize soil. Applying a good starter fertilizer with the appropriate phosphorous, nitrogen and potassium composition for your soil type is recommended by Eden. Phosphorus helps in the development of a strong root system, while nitrogen helps maintain growth and the green color of the plants.

The use of phosphorus is restricted in some states in the U.S. Consult your local county extension to determine the right fertilizer composition for your soil.Fertilizers can be applied through fertilizer spreaders which are of various types like a handheld spreader, broadcast spreader, drop spreader, snap spreader, and liquid sprayer. 

5. Lawn Watering

Lawn Watering

The newly spread seeds need to be kept moist constantly. Seeds germinate in twenty-one days. Eden recommends watering lightly twice a day for the first week and then more heavily for the next two weeks. By this time, the seeds would have sprouted, and you can adjust your irrigation amounts according to the water required to prevent the grass from wilting.

Watering lawn in the morning or evening times is recommended by Eden as this will allow the soil to soak up all the water you are providing it without any of it being lost to evaporation. Midday irrigation is inefficient as the heat of the sun causes a lot of irrigation water to evaporate, leaving insufficient water for the seeds.

What is the Importance of Overseeding a Lawn?

Overseeding a lawn is important to keep the lawn lush and healthy. Overseeding fills up spots left bare due to overuse, disease, pests, pet activity, etc. Worn-out grass leads to weeds overtaking your lawn. Therefore, overseeding is necessary to maintain the health and appearance of your landscape and prevent the invasion of weeds by choking them out.

This is especially true for older lawns as they tend to deteriorate faster. Integrating new grass seeds that would thrive in your climatic conditions with older, established lawns will increase their drought tolerance and reduce the risk of disease, pests and infections. They will also be able to withstand heavy foot traffic after overseeding and require less fertilizer and water.

What Tools are Required to Overseed a Lawn?

Every landscaping task needs the right tools to ensure that the job is done correctly and efficiently without harming any of the elements in your landscape. Given below are the essential tools required to overseed your lawn:

Lawn Mower: You will need a lawnmower to mow your lawn extra short before overseeding to provide optimum sunlight for the new seeds. Most homeowners have a lawnmower already and do not need to invest in one for overseeding. In case you don’t already own a lawnmower or are looking to replace your older model, Eden can help you pick the best one for your lawn size and terrain. For smaller yards (less than half an acre), a push mower will suffice, for average-sized yards (about ¾th of an acre), you’ll need a self-propelled mower, and for large yards (more than one acre), a riding lawn mower will be required. The following are the best lawn mowers recommended by Eden:

  1. Honda 663020 3-in-One Lawn Mower: Self-propelled, Rear-wheel Drive, Gas Engine
  2. Greenworks 25022: Electric-corded, Good for Small Yards, Not expensive.
  3. Toro 22.5 HP TimeCutter: Riding, Gas Engine, Best for Large Yards

Rake: Before seeding, you will need a rake to loosen the soil, remove debris and dethatch. Choosing a rake with strong metal tines is important for the best results. The price range for garden rakes is from $15 for basic hand-held rakes to $500 for battery-powered rakes. For dethatching, you do not require battery-powered rakes.The following are the best rakes for dethatching your lawn and removing debris, recommended by Eden:

  1. AMES 2915100 Thatch Rake: Adjustable, Self-cleaning, Hardwood, 61-inch Handle
  2. Bully Tools 92379 Bow Rake: Fiberglass Handle, 16-inch Bow Rake, 66-inch Handle
  3. TRG GK102R The Groundskeeper II Rake: Fiberglass Handle, 21-inch Head, 55-inch Handle

Seed and Fertilizer Spreader: To spread seeds evenly over the area you have prepared for overseeding, you need a good seed spreader. These are of many types: handheld spreaders (battery-powered or crank), shoulder spreaders, push spreaders and tow spreaders. The following are the best spreaders recommended by Eden

  1. Scotts Whirl Hand-Powered Spreader: Handheld, Adjustable Arm Support, Good for Small Lawns
  2. Earthway 2750 Bag Spreader: Hand Crank, Shoulder Spreader, Good for Medium Sized Lawns
  3. Agri-Fab 45-0462 Spreader: Push, Broadcast Spreader, Good for Large Lawns

When is the Best Time to Overseed a Lawn?

The best time to overseed your lawn depends on where you live. For the northern regions with cool-season grasses on their lawns, the best time to overseed is late summer to early fall. 

During this time, the temperature of the soil is warm enough for seed germination, and the air temperature is cool enough to stimulate healthy growth. These conditions also make it difficult for weeds to develop, and therefore there is less competition for the grass seedlings to develop.

For southern regions with warm-season grass on the lawns, late spring or early summer is the ideal time to overseed. Warm-season grass seeds require warm temperatures to germinate, and therefore this time period provides a cozy environment for the seedlings. 

What Factors can Affect the Lawn Overseeding Process?

While overseeding, there are a few factors you need to take into consideration so that the seeding process does not fail and produces a healthy, functional lawn with high tolerance.

  • Climate – The climate of your geographical location will determine which type of grass will thrive on your lawn. For colder regions of northern, western and eastern United States, cool-season grass like Kentucky Bluegrass, Perennial Ryegrass and Fescue should be used. 
  • Timing – As mentioned before, timing is everything when it comes to overseeding. Overseeding at the right time is important to achieve the best results and protect the time and money you are investing in the process. 
  • Drainage – If your landscape has poor drainage, then this will lead to patches of standing water. While seeds need to be kept moist constantly, standing water will cause excessive water stress on the seeds. They will die due to drowning. 
  • Soil Composition – Your soil should have a neutral pH, the right chemical composition (proportionate distribution of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium), and all the nutrients necessary for germination and healthy development of the seedlings. 
  • Weeds – Weeds can prove to be very tough competition to the tender grass seedlings. Therefore, proper weed control before overseeding is essential. If you are going to use pre-emergent herbicides for weed control, then you shouldn’t overseed your lawns right after as the herbicides will affect the grass seedlings as well.
  • Soil Compaction – If your soil is too compact, then the new seeds will not get adequate air, water and nutrients to germinate. A solution to this is to aerate your soil to loosen it. This will give the seedlings enough room to breathe and allow their tender roots to penetrate the soil and go deep. 
  • Inadequate Soil Cultivation – Adequate contact between soil and seed is necessary for a healthy germination rate and reducing seed mortality. If the soil is not turned over enough or if there is debris and thatch forming a barrier between the seeds and the soil then the seed will not be able to establish roots, thus causing them to die.

Why should You Consult an Expert for Overseeding a Lawn?

It’s important to prepare your lawn before seeding it, as Eden has suggested in this article. It is also essential to know which type of grass you already have and, therefore, which type will complement it best according to your climatic conditions. If you are unsure about any of this, you should consult lawn care services for overseeding your lawn as they will protect your investment from going to waste.

Lawn care is all in the details, and we take care of every single one to give you the lawn of your dreams. Contact us today!