Overseed like a pro with these 3 steps

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Lawns need to be overseeded when they begin to have trouble with growth in certain areas. Sometimes a good fertilization effort will help improve growth, but fertilizer alone will not help patches of dead grass regain their former vibrancy. For bare areas of your lawn that consistently refuse to grow, it may be time to add some new seed. With the steps we have laid out below, you can give your lawn the most effective overseeding results possible!

Step 1) Skip The Pre-Emergent Treatments

If you recently applied a pre-emergent herbicide to your lawn, you will want to wait before overseeding. Homeowners often put down pre-emergent early in the growing season to stop crabgrass and other grassy weeds from emerging. Unfortunately, these products will also prevent new grass seedlings from emerging in your lawn if you put down grass seed while the pre-emergent is still present.

If your lawn is looking thin and clearly in need of overseeding, you should put down grass seed before applying any type of herbicide. Overseed in early spring, when temperatures start to warm up and lawn growth is evident, then you can safely apply pre-emergent and grassy weed killers once your new grass becomes established. 

Pro Tip: Wait On The Fertilizers, Too!

Despite what many homeowners may think, it is more beneficial to wait until your new seeds begin to germinate and sprout seedlings in your lawn before you apply fertilizer. While applying fertilizer and seeds at the same time isn’t the worst thing in the world for your lawn, you will likely not see maximum results from either if you do so. Generally speaking, it is best to wait at least 2-4 weeks before applying fertilizer to newly seeded grass, or until you see new seedlings start to emerge. Below are just a few of the reasons why you should consider this strategy:

  • Nutrient Competition: Fertilizer and seeds both require nutrients for growth. Applying them simultaneously can lead to competition for these essential resources, potentially hindering the germination and establishment of new grass seeds.
  • Burn Risk: Fertilizers contain concentrated nutrients that, when applied in excess or directly onto seeds, can lead to "burning" or damaging the delicate seedlings. This occurs due to the high salt content in fertilizers, which can dehydrate or harm the emerging roots and shoots of the newly planted grass seeds.
  • Seed Displacement: The application process of spreading fertilizer can inadvertently displace newly sown grass seeds. This displacement can result in uneven distribution of seeds across the lawn, leading to patchy or sparse growth.

Step 2) Ensure Seeds Reach The Soil

This one may seem obvious, but it is not always as simple as it sounds. Spreading seeds over an existing lawn can be as easy as tossing those seeds from your bare hands to the ground, but those seeds don’t necessarily make it to the soil. Grass in your lawn acts as a barrier between the soil and the new seeds, preventing those seeds from actually making contact with the ground and being able to germinate. 

To avoid this issue, rake the overseeded areas gently in order to knock loose any seeds that may be resting on blades of grass. Ensure that the rake is just barely rested on top of the soil, without you applying any pressure to it. Applying too much force when raking could have adverse effects on the lawn and even displace seeds that are already in the soil, so be sure to tread lightly with the rake. 

Pro Tip: Aerate To Open Up The Soil

Aerating and overseeding are complimentary lawn care tasks that benefit each other in many ways when it comes to creating a more lush lawn. Aeration helps to break up soil compaction, improve airflow, and increase nutritional intake, all of which are important for new grass development. Keep the following in mind if you are debating on whether you should aerate and overseed your lawn at the same time:

  • Enhanced Seed-To-Soil Contact: Aerating the lawn creates small holes or channels in the soil, providing an ideal environment for seeds to establish strong root systems. Overseeding immediately after aeration maximizes seed-to-soil contact, promoting germination and ensuring better absorption of nutrients and water.
  • Improved Nutrient Uptake: Aeration opens up compacted soil, allowing for better penetration of nutrients, water, and oxygen to the roots of grass. Overseeding in conjunction with aeration enhances nutrient uptake for both existing grass and newly laid seeds.
  • Better Soil Conditions: Increased Germination Rates: The aeration process creates optimal conditions for seed germination by loosening soil, reducing thatch buildup, and minimizing competition from existing grass or weeds. Seeds can germinate much more easily in less compacted soil. 

Step 3) Water Lightly & Frequently

Watering your new seed often and for short periods of time is the best way to encourage strong root development and grass growth. After overseeding, your lawn should stay moist, but not soaked, for several weeks. This should be accomplished by watering for only a few minutes at a time every day for several weeks until your new grass begins to grow at the same rate as the rest of the lawn. 

Even when seedlings start to emerge, you need to continue to keep the soil moist in order to feed the shallow roots of the new grass. Once your lawn evens out, then you can start a normal watering routine that involves deep and infrequent watering sessions. Remember, deep and infrequent watering is meant to reach deeper roots of established lawns, while light and infrequent watering are ideal for feeding shallow roots that are just starting to develop. 

Pro Tip: Water During The Hottest Part Of The Day 

Watering a newly seeded lawn essentially reverses the typical watering rules. For established lawns, it is always recommended that watering be done deeply and infrequently, early in the morning. The reason for this type of schedule is to avoid evaporation due to midday sunlight, especially in summer. However, since you will need to water your new seed multiple times a day, the hottest part of the day is the best time to do so to keep your soil moist. The reasons listed below will help explain why watering new seeds is crucial when facing hot temperatures:

  • Prevention Of Dry Soil: Hot temperatures can quickly dry out the soil surface, posing a threat to newly laid grass seeds. Watering frequently during the hottest times of the day helps prevent the soil from drying out, ensuring continuous moisture supply for germinating seeds and preventing desiccation.
  • Reduced Heat Stress To Seedlings: Grass seedlings are particularly susceptible to heat stress during hot weather, which can stunt growth or even cause seedling death. Watering new grass seeds frequently during the hottest times of the day helps mitigate heat stress by cooling the soil surface and providing relief to emerging seedlings.
  • Enhanced Nutrient Uptake: Adequate watering facilitates nutrient uptake by the germinating seeds, ensuring that they have access to essential nutrients for healthy growth. Water acts as a carrier for nutrients dissolved in the soil, allowing the developing seedlings to absorb these vital elements more efficiently.

Professional Overseeding Services

Lawn care requires a multifaceted approach to address all the issues that can prevent optimal grass growth. Overseeding is not overly complicated, but it does have to be performed with certain factors kept in mind. The tips in this blog post will help you get the most out of your new grass seed, but nothing will get the job done like professional lawn care services. 

Holmes Lawn & Pest specializes in liquid aeration, along with other services, that will improve the performance of grass seed in your lawn and give you the lush growth you are looking for. Call Holmes or a professional near you today to learn more about how to improve your overseeding game!

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