Overseeding your lawn is another good technique to master since it will help you encourage really thick, dense growth for a velvety and lush result.
Here’s a useful guide on what overseeding is all about and how to overseed lawn areas in your yard.
What is Overseeding?
Overseeding is the process of adding new grass seed to your existing lawn. It’s a routine part of annual maintenance that helps to encourage thick grass growth, fill in bare patches and even add new varieties of grass to your yard.
Why Should Overseed or Reseed My Lawn?
Not every lawn requires overseeding, but it’s a great option for restoring your lawn in certain circumstances, including:
- If you have recently had a drought or lawn has died off due to lack of watering
- If your grass has died off in patches due to pets, furniture, insect damage or disease
- If you want to fill in where grass growth is sparse
- If you want to add grass varieties for shady areas or sunny areas where your existing grass is struggling
- If you want to introduce different grass varieties that are drought resistant, better suited to the climate or disease resistant without replacing your entire lawn
Should I Replace or Overseed Lawn?
It’s recommended that you reseed lawn when 50% or more of your existing lawn is in good condition.
If your lawn is more than 50% weeds and sparce grass growth, it is often better to replace the lawn fully with an appropriate turf, either through reseeding or with pre-grown turf that can be planted directly onto your lawn area.
When is the Best Time to Overseed or Reseed Lawn?
This depends a lot on your local climate. The general rule is that grass seed needs temperatures over 55 degrees Fahrenheit in order to germinate and grow.
The best season for overseeding your lawn is early spring, as this gives your grass a good season to grow and establish itself properly.
However, you can plant in late summer or early fall even if you are in a cooler Northern state, as the grass should be able to establish itself before the cold months arrive.
In mild Southern states, you can also overseed over the winter if you don’t get any frost. Don’t plant in the height of summer, as the strong summer sun and hot weather can quickly damage new growth.
How to Overseed Lawn
As with all gardening projects, overseeding your lawn takes a little planning and research! Here’s our useful guide.
Step 1 – Choose the Right Lawn Seed
There are a wide range of lawn seeds on the market and it’s worth doing some research to find the one that’s not only right for your local climate, but right for different areas of your yard.
In most cases, it’s a good idea to choose grasses local to your area as these are properly suited to the climate, ensuring they grow well and are resistant to common diseases and pests.
These grasses are also the best choice for supporting native insects and birds, creating an eco-friendly garden.
It’s also a good idea to get both shade and sun-loving grasses, so you can apply the right grass to different areas of your yard. This will help ensure a thick, lush lawn under trees as well as over sunny areas.
The best sun-loving grass varieties include:
- St Augustine grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum)
- Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon)
- Buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides)
- Bahia grass (Paspalum notatum)
- Carpet grass (Axonopus affinis)
- Centipede grass (Eremochloa ophiuroides)
- Zoysia grass (Zoysia japonica)
The best shade-loving grass varieties include:
- Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis)
- Creeping bent grass (Agrostis palustris)
- Creeping red fescue (Festuca rubra var. rubra)
- Annual ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum)
- Perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne)
- Tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea)
Step 2 – Prepare Your Lawn
For the grass seeds to grow and thrive, the lawn has to be prepared. Start by mowing your lawn extra short (2 inches or a little less).
For Southern lawns and overseeding in winter, you can set the mower as low as it can go to cut the lawn just above the soil, a technique known as scalping.
Then, you should use a metal rake to dethatch the grass, a process where you remove old, dead growth, clippings and other debris. This loosens the soil and makes it easy for the seeds to reach the soil to start growing.
Although aerating your lawn is always good for encouraging healthy lawn growth, you can use this technique to overseed your lawn without aerating.
If you prefer to combine your overseeding with aerating your lawn, here’s a guide on how to aerate your lawn properly.
Step 3 – Seeding Your Lawn
Once you have selected your lawn seed, you can start overseeding. There are two ways you can do this:
- Manual method – Sprinkle the seed by hand into your lawn. This method is understandably cost-effective, but it does take time and can result in uneven growth where clumps of seed fall.
We’d recommend it only if you are overseeding a small amount of lawn.
- Lawn spreader method – You can hire or buy a lawn fertilizer spreader, which can also be used for seeding.
They are very easy to use and make overseeding lawn areas quick and easy, delivering very even coverage. They are well worth it for medium or large jobs, or where you want a pristine result.
Step 4 – Feed Your Lawn
Use a 10-10-10 fertilizer to provide plenty of nutrients to your lawn, helping the new seeds to grow quickly into healthy plants.
It might be tempting to use a weed and feed fertilizer instead, as new weeds may also pop up during this time, but these will kill the new grass seeds and growth.
Instead, remove the weeds by hand or wait until your lawn is more established (this can take 2-3 months) and use a pre-emergent weed and feed to kill weed seeds.
Step 5 – Water Your Lawn
New lawns need frequent, thorough watering, especially in warm weather. After you overseed lawn areas, water gently until the first 2 inches of soil are wet.
Don’t overwater or flood the lawn, as this will wash away your seeds and fertilizer and can cause root rot that will kill your lawn.
After this initial watering, water lightly twice a day for the first 4 days, then do your regular lawn watering every second day after that for the next 5 days. This will prevent wilting and will encourage healthy root growth.
After that, regularly check the soil in your lawn to make sure it stays damp, and water as needed to keep it moist.
If you are planting in spring or early summer, remember to water more frequently on hot days, preferably in the early morning.
Step 6 – Regular Maintenance
Once the grass is growing well, you can return to regular maintenance, watering, mowing and fertilizing as you normally would, following the best practices mentioned at the start of this article to keep your lawn looking beautiful.
Enjoy Great Results When You Overseed Lawn the Right Way!
Now that you know exactly how to overseed lawn the right way, you can enjoy a lawn that’s the envy of all your neighbors!
Remember to choose the right grass seed for your local climate, plant in early spring or early fall when temperatures don’t fall below 55 degrees Fahrenheit, and prepare your lawn properly.
With the right initial care, including regular watering and fertilizer which is all outlined in our guide on how to overseed lawn areas, your new lawn will grow thick and healthy in no time at all.