How to Overseed or Reseed Your Lawn

If your lawn, your pride and joy is beginning to look thin and worn out, showing bare spots and there is a rampant growth of weeds, don’t panic. It is very easy to restore your lawn and prevent it from becoming an eyesore. There is nothing that overseeding or seeding of your lawn can’t take care of.

Learning to overseed or reseed your lawn is not very difficult. All that is required is the right timing, proper tools and equipment and the know-how and it is possible to restore your lawn to its former thick and lush glory. So, read on to know how to overseed or reseed your lawn.

Overseeding vs Reseeding

Often, homeowners think that overseeding and reseeding are the same and use the terms interchangeably. While the preparation and techniques used in both these processes are similar, they are quite different applications, which fulfill different needs.

What Is Overseeding?

The method of seeding over the top of an existing lawn is called overseeding. As your lawn ages, there is a slowing down of the production of new grass. This results in your lawn becoming thin, patchy with bare areas and weeds begin to take over.

Generally, overseeding is used to take care of the lawn thinning problem or prevent it from thinning and increase its thickness and lush texture.

If around 50% of the grass is thinned and not barren and the rest of it is in good condition, then overseeding is the best option.

For thinning grass that requires a boost and improvement in its texture and appearance, overseeding involves applying the grass seed all over the existing lawn without turning the topsoil.

Whereas, for bare spots, the process involves the dethatching and raking of the bare areas and adding seed mixture to these areas. Many homeowners use overseeding as a part of the regular lawn maintenance to keep it full and bright. When done properly, overseeding can help to keep your lawn looking lush, green and thriving for several years.

What Is Reseeding?

The process of reseeding essentially is to take care of dead or barren spots in your yard. While the primary objective of overseeding is to thicken your lawn, the process of reseeding involves stripping down your lawn right to the soil and starting afresh.

Since reseeding the lawn is a lot more than thickening the lawn and involves practically creating a new lawn, it may require soil testing, preparation, conditioning, fertilization and finally seeding.

The process of reseeding is time-consuming, takes effort and can be expensive too. However, it is an excellent way to give your lawn a new lease of life if it is in a very bad condition, if you want to change the type of grass or the soil needs to be improved.

How to Overseed Your Lawn

Decide the Best Time

When overseeding your lawn, it is important to decide what is the best time to do this and this mainly depends on the type of seeds you will be using. Cool-season grasses do best in later summer and fall when the air is cool, but the soil is warm and there are very few weeds.

The growth of the existing grass slows down in the cooler temperatures and at the same time offers the seed time to germinate, as well as grow before the grass becomes dormant.

Overseeding must be done at least 45 days before the first frost. If you’re unable to overseed in the fall, then the next best time to do it is in the spring season, when there is no threat of a freeze.

In the south, the best time to overseed your lawn is from late spring to mid-summer because warm-season grasses require the soil to be warm to germinate. This also gives the grass seeds sufficient time to germinate and grow before the temperatures become very warm.

Steps to Overseed Your Lawn

Mowing the Lawn and Raking It

The objective of overseeding the lawn is to ensure that the seed comes in contact with the soil properly and for that to happen, you must mow the lawn. Mowing the grass shorter than normal will ensure that the seed has a better chance of reaching the soil.

Bag the grass clippings and rake the lawn to remove all the debris like dead grass, sticks, rocks, etc. This helps to loosen the soil and also remove all the barriers between the soil and the grass seed, allowing proper seeding and germination.

Amending the Soil

Not the same as fertilizers, soil amendments have specific chemical compositions and nutrients for specific types of soil. For instance, wood ash, poultry manure and lime help to increase the pH level of acidic soil, making it suitable for certain types of grasses and plants.

On the other hand, sulfur amendments help to add acidity to the alkaline soil. By adding compost to sandy soil and peat moss to clayey soil, you can enhance the nutrient profile of the soil and improve your lawn.

If your lawn is not growing as it should, then a soil test can help to determine its type and pH and what type of amendments are required to be added to the soil, which will help the growth of a healthy lawn. However, if your soil is fertile and its pH is neutral, then there is no need to add any amendments to it.

Adding the Grass Seeds

Next, spread the grass seeds around 16 seeds for every square inch of the soil and an easy way to spread the seeds is by using a seed spreader. If you don’t have a seed spreader, then you can simply spread the seeds by hand. You can determine the proper seed density according to the existing lawn’s thickness.

Selecting the appropriate grass seed is an important aspect of overseeding and you must choose the appropriate seed as per the region or climate you live in. For example, cool-season grasses do well in temperatures that are usually found in the Pacific Northwest and Northeast regions, while warm-season grasses do best in southern climates.

You can determine the local climate of your area by checking the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map and choose the type of grass appropriate for your area. It is also a good idea to check for grass seed that has been rated by the National Turf Evaluation Program (NTEP) as these grass seeds have been tested and are resistant to common pests, diseases and drought.

Applying Fertilizer

Use a fertilizer spreader to apply fertilizer to your lawn. There are different kinds of fertilizer spreaders such as handheld spreaders, drop spreaders, broadcast spreaders, snap spreaders and liquid sprayers.

Typically, for a small lawn, a handheld spreader is sufficient, while for a larger lawn, you may need a broadcast spreader, which is less time-consuming and also takes less effort.

You can select the type of spreader depending on the size of your lawn and the type of fertilizer you will be using. For instance, liquid fertilizer will require a liquid sprayer and for mid-sized lawns drop or snap spreaders are the best.

To apply the fertilizer, first, spread the fertilizer around the lawn’s perimeter to ensure that the edges of the lawn are fertilized. And then, just like mowing your lawn, apply the fertilizer in straight rows until you cover the entire lawn.

Watering the Lawn

Once the application of fertilizer is complete, water your lawn daily at least 1-2 times a day, until the new grass grows to the same height as the older grass. Watering the lawn in the morning is the best because this ensures that the water intake is maximized.

Once the new grass grows to the height of the old grass, water the lawn as required to prevent it from wilting so that a healthy, deep root system is established. However, you must take care not to overwater the lawn as the seeds can get washed away, they may not germinate, it can cause thatch development or the growth of weeds and fungus.

If the ground feels very soft or if there are puddles, then it is a good idea to cut back on the watering. Avoid mowing the lawn until the grass has filled in properly and the blades are 1-2 inches tall at least.

How to Reseed Your Lawn

As mentioned earlier, reseeding is a different process from overseeding, which is used if your lawn is very thin and has few barren spots which require filling in. With reseeding, is completely regrowing your lawn from bare dirt and then planting new grass seed. Here are a few steps of how to reseed your lawn:

Kill the Weeds and Existing Grass

The best and quickest method to kill the existing grass, as well as the weeds is to use a weed killer after which, you must wait for a specific amount of time before you plant new grass seeds. Another way to do this is to mow the lawn as low as possible and soak it.

Cover the grass with plastic sheeting. Weigh the edges of the plastic with heavy stones or bricks. The heat from the sun and the moisture will destroy the lawn in around 6-8 weeks, leaving behind soil that is ready to be reseeded.

Choose the Appropriate Grass Seeds

Select the right type of grass seed to reseed your lawn depending on the best seed for your area and also the amount of sun your lawn receives. Typically, warm-season grasses such as St. Augustine or Bermuda grasses do well in warm southern climates.

All through the warm weather, the grass remains green, while it turns brown or yellow in the cooler seasons. Cool-season grasses such as Kentucky Bluegrass, perennial ryegrasses and Fescues grow well in cooler climates that grow well in fall and spring but their growth slows down in the hotter months.

Prepare the Soil and Spread the Seeds

Once the old grass and weeds are completely removed, then you need to prep the soil. Rake the soil so the ground is leveled and the clumps of dirt are broken down and remove all the large debris. If the soil has compost or mulch, work it into the top of the soil lightly. If the soil is hard and compacted, then aerate the soil.

Once the soil is aerated, rake the soil to level it and also loosen the topsoil. Once this is done, using a seed spreader, apply the seeds evenly. Using a spreader can help you to do the job easily and quickly; however, if the area is very small, then you can spread the seeds by hand.

Fertilize and Water

Once the grass seed has been applied, apply fertilizer to provide the nutrients required for the new root system. After seeding, the soil must be kept moist for 1-2 weeks so that the seeds establish themselves and grow into healthy plants. Keep the soil moist at all times until the grass grows to a height of around two inches at least.

Parting Thoughts

In conclusion, overseeding or reseeding are two methods by which you can combat the thinning of your lawn, barren spots and overgrowth of weeds. By following the steps discussed in the article, you can overseed or reseed your lawn successfully, ensuring that your lawn is always lush, green and thriving all-year round.