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Overseeding a Lawn

Want to have a thicker greener and more lush lawn? There are many ways to help your cause. Proper watering, fertilizing, weed control and lawn aeration are all important steps in maintaining a beautiful lawn. Overseeding is also a valuable step, but one that is often overlooked. If you can spread the blades of the grass and see soil, your lawn could benefit from overseeding.

Why overseed?

After about three years the reproductive rate of grass slows down & it eventually reaches a point where it cannot keep up with the need for new plants. Most of the cooler season grasses in our area (doesn't include zoysia & bermuda) grow in bunches. when these bunches start to die out space is left for weeds to thrive.

Newer cultivars of grasses are engineered better. K 31 was a popular variety of fescue for quite some time. However, it is a wider bladed grass that doesn't blend well with other types of turf. It is also prone to disease when fertilized on a regular basis.

Newer versions of tall turf fescues are more drought tolerant and less susceptible to disease. They are also thinner bladed, blend better with other grass types and have a more robust green color.

Mixing different types of grasses that have different growing seasons can make a lawn look vibrant most of the year. Overseeding a bermuda grass lawn with a perennial rye can keep a lawn green in the cooler months when the bermuda has gone dormant.

When to overseed a lawn

Late summer through early fall is the best time to overseed in our area. The warm soil (necessary for germination), the abundant sunshine & cooler air (both good for growth) make for ideal conditions to overseed.

How to overseed

Start by mowing the lawn. Cut it shorter than normal. This will allow the new seed more sunlight. Bagging the clippings is also helpful. The next step is to rake the area you plan to overseed. This removes debris and makes it easier for seed to soil contact. The next step is to spread the seed. Drop spreaders work well for smaller areas because they are more precise (keeps stray seed out of those landscape beds). Broadcast spreaders work well for larger areas. Split the seed and spread it - half while walking one direction and half wile walking in the opposite direction. This will make for a more even distribution of the seed. There are many different types and blends of grass seed, so make sure to check the label for application rates.

Thing that improve your rate of success

- use a granular slow release starter fertilizer in conjunction with the seeding

- aerate the lawn first. Core aerators can be found at most rental places

- remove thatch. A mechanical dethatcher will do a better job than raking by hand.

- top dress a thin layer of compost or topsoil (1/4 " at the most) will help hold in moisture.


Water twice a day until the seed germinates(may take 3 weeks) & continue to water after that. You want to keep the seeds moist all the time but not water to the point where they wash away. Ryegrass will usually start in 4-6 days. Fescues 7- 10 days. Bluegrass can take 2 -3 weeks. Forgetting to water for just 1 or 2 days can decrease the germination rate by 20% to 30%. It can take a full month for new grass to establish well and it needs to be watered while this occurs.

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About the Author

Rob Maurer, Newburgh Lawn & Landscape
6011 magnolia
Newburgh, IN 47630

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