We are quickly approaching prime aerating season, so today we're going to talk about aerating's BFF: Overseeding. We'll go over how overseeding works, why your lawn may benefit from it, and how to get the most out of it.
What is overseeding?
Overseeding is the process of adding grass seed to an existing lawn. It can involve using specialized machinery, a simple spreader, even tossing the seeds by hand like you're feeding pigeons in the park.
Why the heck would I seed a lawn that's already growing?
That's a great question! Overseeding is awesome when you want to thicken up a lawn that is thin, patchy, or brown. It works in the obvious way of just growing more grass blades to the thicken the turf, but it also can be a great way to add different grass varieties to your lawn. Here in the northeast we can have some pretty intense seasons (which apparently now includes MONSOON SEASON?!). Having a mix of grass types will make your lawn more resistant to disease, pests, drought, cold, all kinds of things.
Even if your lawn ISN'T a complete disaster, it's a good idea to overseed as a preventative measure. Lawns get thinner naturally over time, and overseeding helps keep them healthy and thick.
It's a relatively low cost and non-aggressive way to get a thicker, greener, more resilient lawn. When paired with aerating, overseeding is by far the biggest return on investment that we do on our lawns.
Speaking of aerating, why are they such good friends?
You can read all about the Ins and Outs of Aerating here, but we'll give you a basic rundown. Core aeration is the process of removing small plugs of turf and soil from your lawn. It relieves compaction, helps with water retention and drainage, gives room for roots to grow, and allows oxygen and nutrients to reach the root system (the MOST important part of a healthy lawn).
When planting grass from seed it's important to have good seed to soil contact. If you're just shaking some seeds out on top of grass clippings or super packed down dirt, it's going to have a lot of trouble germinating. If you've ever thrown grass seed down and wondered why it didn't grow, there's a good chance it's because of the seed to soil contact (it could also be water - WATER YOUR DAMN LAWN!). So you want the soil roughed up a bit before you put seed down.
After aerating, your lawn will be full of all these little holes where the soil is exposed, so it's perfect for germinating new seeds. PLUS all of those little plugs left behind that look like dog doo will break down and add all of those awesome nutrients back into the soil, so it's pretty much free starter fertilizer! Overseeding takes advantage of the soil conditions from aerating and strengthen the lawn's root system.
So basically, aerating creates the perfect conditions for overseeding, and overseeding enhances the effectiveness of aerating. Like I said, BFFs.
Ok, I'm sold. How do I get the most out of overseeding?
Awesome, so happy to hear it. So the first thing is going to be timing. The best time to overseed is in the late summer or early fall. Grass seed germinates best between 50 and 70ish degrees. Anything hotter or cooler than that and your germination rates will fall. You'll also want to leave enough time for the new grass to get established before the winter hits. Late August through the end of September seem to be the sweet spot around here.
Secondly, make sure it's getting enough water. New seeds need to stay wet pretty much constantly while they're germinating, and then well watered while the blades are still young and delicate.
Should you feed it? Sure! If you already have a feeding plan in place, stick with it, just stay away from any herbicides (especially pre-emergents) for a month or so.
So to recap...
Aerating is great.
Overseeding is great.
Aerating and overseeding TOGETHER is like a whole other level of awesomeness for your lawn.
Do it in late summer to early fall and keep it watered. EASY!