Did all of the foot traffic, heat, and possible droughts really put a toll on your lawn? After a summer of mowing, watering, edging, and weeding, your thin and worn out looking lawn is pretty frustrating. Luckily, the harsh summer has finally passed and fall is here. What better time to think about reseeding your lawn?
Ideally, late summer or early fall is the best time to take action reseeding your lawn. This time of year is good for reseeding because the soil is warmer which is better for germination, there are fewer weed problems, the cooler weather encourages grass growth, and there is less chance of water evaporation.
Why reseed your lawn, you ask? Just like anything else, over time, grass gets old and needs to be replaced. Not only do worn out lawns look unattractive, but they also invite weeds. Reseeding is a fast and inexpensive way to turn your lawn around without having to tear it apart and start over. The following article from Wisegeek.com offers tips on the proper way of reseeding your lawn.
How do I Reseed a Lawn?
If your lawn has brown spots, bare spots, or is thinning, it may be time to reseed it to achieve a lusher, healthier lawn. Reseeding, or overseeding does take some preparation and planning, but can improve your curb appeal, your home’s value, and even your relationship with your neighbors.
Timing: Although you can reseed at almost any time of the year, the grass needs adequate time to get established before winter. It should be done several weeks before the first frost, but after the scorching heat of summer, which can be tough on lawns.
Preparation: Before you reseed the lawn, you must first remove all the weeds, debris, and dead grass from the area by manually pulling weeks or using weed killer. If you use weed killer, be sure to follow the directions which should specify how long it will take to be effective, before you reseed. Next, loosen the soil with a hard rake. For extremely compacted soil, you may need to rent a machine to aerate the soil, which removes small plugs of dirt and turf. This allows water and nutrients to better penetrate the soil and nourish the roots of your lawn.
If there is excessive thatch, which is dead grass and roots, you may need to rent a power rake or dethatcher to remove the dead material. If this is too daunting or physical a task, most lawn care companies offer aeration and dethatching services. Lawn experts recommend performing this maintenance on your lawn every few years to ensure a healthy foundation for your lawn.
If your soil is in extremely poor condition, you may need to add some compost or new soil to prepare it for new grass seed. This will also depend upon the type of soil you have and where you live— consult your local nursery or garden center for advice on the type of soil you have. In some cases, a complete lawn “renovation” is in order, which entails completely killing the existing lawn, tilling the soil, flattening the area and reseeding from scratch.
Reseeding: Once the soil has been prepared, you must choose your grass seed. You should use a seed that is similar to the grass that is already in your lawn, and is appropriate for your zone. This will prevent unsightly spots where one area may be greener or have smaller blades than another. Scattering the seed by hand is sufficient, but if you are reseeding an entire lawn, it is better to use a mechanical spreader to ensure even coverage. Set it for three to four pounds per 1,000 square feet.
Rake the seed into the soil so it makes good contact with the soil. If it is lying on top of existing grass, it may not sprout, and may become the neighborhood birds’ next meal. If birds are likely to be a major problem, you can cover the seeded area with weed-free straw or hay, or about a quarter inch of mulch. Some garden care centers recommend applying a starter fertilizer to the lawn after reseeding.
After you reseed, it is important that you keep the soil moist by watering it twice a day. The grass will germinate in about two weeks. Once the grass starts to grow, mow it. The ideal length for grass is two to two and a half inches, as opposed to closely cropped grass. This encourages deeper rooting, which is especially important with new lawns.
While your new lawn is getting established, avoid heavy traffic—try to keep pets and kids off it until it is strong and healthy. Be sure to maintain your newly refurbished lawn by mowing regularly, applying weed and feed, and keeping it watered during droughts or hot weather.
Now that you have the tips for reseeding your lawn, you should know what signs to look for so you know when your lawn needs reseeding:
- Bare spots.
- Approximately 40-50% of your lawn is dead.
- There is a large population of weeds.
- High traffic areas and pet-urine has created dead-looking areas.
- When walking across your lawn if it feels spongy and soft.
Though the fall is the best time to reseed your lawn, reseeding should happen multiple times per year. Another good time to reseed your lawn is late April or early May. Keeping up with your lawn care may be tedious, but in the long run the payoff is well worth it. Your lawn is the backdrop for everything else on your property. You want your lawn to stand out to make everything around it look that much better… and reseeding your lawn in the fall may be your best bet to achieve that luscious lawn in the spring!