When Should I Overseed My Lawn
Overseeding a lawn at the right time is essential for the best results. The right time to overseed a lawn depends on the type of grass seed you have. For cool-season grass, aim to overseed in the fall, preferably in early September. A beneficial combination of cool air and warm soil temperatures during this time create the ideal conditions for new seedlings to successfully germinate.
If you happen to miss out on fall seeding, the next best time for overseeding a cool-season lawn is in early spring, ideally between March and April and when your soil has reached a temperature of 55 consistently.
How To Care For A Newly Planted Lawn
You have put a lot of work into creating a new lawn, so dont forget the most important step. Plan for watering needs before you plant your lawn. Insufficient water and overwatering are the leading causes of new-lawn failure. Take precautions to prevent damage. Minimize play and foot traffic on new and sodded lawns for at least three weeks.
Do not fertilize new lawns for at least six weeks. After six weeks, apply a light fertilization of ½-pound nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. Thereafter, fertilize according to the recommendations given for established lawns.
Understand Your Soil By Testing
One thing thats often overlooked when seeding a lawn is the condition of the soil it grows in but knowing your soil conditions is just as important as getting your timing right. We often hear talk of the importance of the PH level of a pool, but its probably not common knowledge that the right PH balance is just as important for your soil.
You can take a sample of your soil to be tested at many local garden centers, but there are also easy to use home test kits that you can buy as well. Once you know the condition of your soil youll know if you need to take any additional action before you can plant your new seed.
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How Often To Water Grass Seed After Planting
Water newly planted grass seed daily if the weather is over 80 degrees F. Every other day is a good watering schedule if temperatures are cooler. Prior to germination, wet the top inch or so of soil. But, once the grass seed germinates and begins to grow, reduce the frequency of irrigation but water more deeply. Once your new grass is about two inches tall, reduce your watering schedule to once or twice a week, but water until the ground is wet down to a depth of about three inches.
Once grass is fully established, stop irrigation all together, unless theres a prolonged period of drought. When it comes to watering established lawns, its always better to water less frequently but very deeply. Always water lawn in the morning, if possible, to reduce the chance of fungal disease issues.
Start With The Best Type Of Grass For Your Climate
As a professional horticulturist and a former landscaper, Ive seeded dozens of brand-new lawns over the years, and Ive over-seeded bare spots in hundreds more. No matter how large or how small your job is, success always starts with selecting the best grass seed for your region. Different grass species thrive in different climates. There are cool-season grasses and warm-season grasses. The label of the package will tell you which grass varieties are included. It will also tell you whether or not there is a starter fertilizer included. Do not choose a blend that includes weed control products. They could harm young seedlings.
Which grass seed is best for your yard also depends on the amount of sunlight it receives. I suggest contacting a local garden center or feed store and speaking with them about the best options for your region. There are also some useful online maps with all the information youll need to choose the appropriate grass species for your growing conditions if you live in the US.
Some brands of grass seed come blended with a filler product intended to help you distribute the seed evenly and to act as a protective covering. I personally avoid these products because they are more costly than purchasing a bag of high-quality plain seed and they dont cover as large of an area.
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What Is The First Thing To Do When Planting New Seed Into Your Lawn
- Watering your newly seeded lawn is a crucial step that needs to be continuously completed. You will want to lightly water your seeded area until it moist, but not to the point of water gathering in puddles. For best results, water once in the morning and again in the evening if seeded area is not lightly moist. You may return to a regular water schedule when grass seeds reach a height of three inches.
How Long To Water New Grass Seed
How long to water new grass seed depends on your soil conditions and your sprinkler setup. In general, ten minutes of watering per session will provide enough water to keep the top couple inches of soil moist.
As your new grass seed grows and flourishes, you can water deeper and less frequently this will encourage established grass roots to extend deeply into the soil. When watering grass seedlings, gradually increase your morning watering sessions over time, while decreasing your evening watering. Eventually, youll want to water between 6 and 10 am, while the weather is still cool. An established lawn typically requires about 1 inch of water per week, including rainfall.
Use the chart below to help you plan out your ideal watering schedule:
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Best Time To Water New Grass Seed
The best time to water grass seed is in the morning and evening. These are the coolest parts of the day, which allows water to absorb into the ground instead of evaporating. A water timer can simplify the process of when to water grass seeds, so you can easily and efficiently water your newly seeded lawn with no hassle at all.
How to water new grass seed depends on the area youve seeded. Large areas can benefit from the use of a quality rectangular sprinkler. Use a small spot sprinkler for smaller seeded areas.
How To Care For Newly Planted Seeded Lawn
This page is a general newly seeded lawn care guide. Using the products and tips suggested you can achieve faster and greater results of any newly seeded lawn.
As your lawn becomes thin, weak, or has bare brown spots then it may be time to plant new grass seeds. By planting new grass seeds you can achieve a greener and fuller lawn that will be the source of envy amongst your neighbors. Not only does a freshly planted lawn look better, but it will help prevent weeds and other diseases from growing in your turf.
Just as it sounds seeding your lawn is planting new grass seeds a few inches below the soil of your lawn. With a little time and patience your seeds will mature and sprout into healthy turf grass.
If your lawn is starting to look thin or worn out, our step-by-step DIY care guide will show you exactly what beginning gardeners or homeowners need to do when planting new seeds within their turf. By following the recommended steps and products you can effectively grow your seeds into a vibrant and thick lawn.
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Ideal Soil / Sowing Conditions
The ideal seedbed should be free from weeds and moss, level and free draining. If it fails on any of these fronts then seed may struggle to grow. Similarly, if the seed is sown incorrectly – buried too deep , too close to the surface or sown at the incorrect rate etc. it may also struggle to germinate. To find out the best method for sowing seed, read our guide here.
How To Water A Newly Seeded Lawn
Watering is an essential part of the seed germination process. You cannot let the seeds dry out at all during this work. If your area is experiencing a drought or doesnt have access to irrigation, youll want to wait until enough moisture is available.
Here are some other facts to consider when watering a newly seeded lawn.
- Newly seeded lawns require daily watering.
- When the weather is dry and windy, several light waterings each day is often helpful. Youll also want to check soil conditions when hot or humidity levels are low.
- Sandy soil dries out quickly, requiring extra irrigation.
When the seedlings start growing, you can reduce the watering frequency. The water should reach the root zone, requiring the top four to six inches to be moist.
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Essential Grass Seed Truth To Consider:
All seeds require moisture and a certain temperature range before they begin to germinate. Once the germination process has begun, if conditions change, the seed or new sprout is vulnerable and can die.
If the seed or sprout dries out it dies.Your mission then, is to provide adequate moisture at all times. The phase before you see any sprouts poking out is most critical. The germination time for grass seed ranges from 5 to 30 days depending on the variety, and it can be even longer than this in cooler temperatures.
Once the new grass is visible, the roots are also growing down into the soil. This happens quite quickly. As soil moisture below ground is more accessible to the roots, the plant is not so vulnerable now. However, dont reduce the amount of watering on new grass seeds yet. Remember: Seeds will not sprout all at the same time. Seeds will be buried at different depths, absorb water differently, or be of different quality or maturity. Many seed mixtures are blends of multiple varieties that will have different characteristics affecting their development.
It is possible to increase the percentage of germinating seeds. Learn more in the article Grass Seed Germination.
Best Grass Seeds For Northern States
If you live in a Northern state, select a cool-season grass. Cool-season grasses thrive in the late spring and early fall months in the northern two-thirds of the United States. Northern grass seed products grow best when temperatures are 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit.
The most popular cool-season lawn grasses are:
- Bentgrass seed. One of the standard grasses for golf course putting greens, some bentgrass varieties, such as Colonial Bentgrass, are made for home lawns. It likes to be cropped short.
- Kentucky bluegrass seed. This is the classic choice for Northern lawns and was brought to the United States during the colonial days. Wants full sun, not shade tolerant.
- Fine Fescue seed. This perennial bunchgrass doesnt mind poorly drained areas.
- Tall fescue mix seed. Puts down deep roots, so a tall fescue lawn is drought tolerant.
- Creeping fescue seed. Although slow to germinate and spread, this fescue seed has tolerance for shade, and low maintenance requirements make it a good choice for large expanses. It is also a good companion for bluegrass since it will thrive in shady spots where bluegrass will not.
- Ryegrass seed. The annual variety is used for a quick shot of green. Its permanent, perennial cousin is noted for its wear tolerance, so its a good choice for places where children will romp.
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Aftercare And Proper Maintenance
Having an aftercare plan is important post-seeding to ensure all of your hard work doesnt go to waste! Once youve applied seed, make sure to maintain a regular watering and mowing schedule. Be sure to wait until the grass blade height has reached about four inches before mowing for the first time post-seeding. Also, even though its tempting to run around on your new, lush lawn, its best to try to limit excess traffic on your newly overseeded lawn to avoid damage.
Watering Just After Seeding
For the best results, water the seedbed a little bit every day to keep the newly planted grass seed wet while its germinating. Light watering twice or three times a day in the early morning, early afternoon and late afternoon will keep young seedlings moist while they are developing.
The germination process will stop if the soil gets too dry, so dont allow the tender seedlings to dry out. One way to prevent this from happening is to use Jonathan Green Top Dress Seedling Cover and Growth Accelerator, which will keep moisture close to the seed for the best establishment.
After a few weeks, reduce watering to two to three times a week and water deeply, at least 30 minutes in each zone. This puts water deep down into the root zone and promotes deeper root growth. Shallow waterings dont provide the same benefit since much of the water is lost to evaporation and the roots stay at the surface because this is where the moisture is.
Once you begin to mow these new areas, the lawn will need about 1/2 inch of water when irrigated during the growing season. NEVER water the lawn at night. Excessive moisture on established grass leaves at night will increase the risk of fungal disease.
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Taking Care Of A Newly Seeded Lawn
Seeding a lawn is beneficial in improving turf density, combating weeds and increasing your lawns tolerance to drought and turf diseases. After your lawn has been seeded, successful establishment of a healthy lawn is greatly dependent on what happens over the next 6 to 8 weeks. Taking care of a newly seeded lawn is simple if you follow these important guidelines.
The importance of proper watering cannot be stressed enough. During the first 2 to 4 weeks seeded areas will need continuous moisture from either irrigation or rainfall. In general, the soil must be moist at all times, but avoid overwatering as runoff may carry the grass seed away. Turf conditions such as sun, shade, terrain slope, percentage of existing lawn vs. bare spots and soil type all will make the difference in watering requirements from only once per day to watering multiple times per day. If possible, watering briefly and frequently throughout the day would be best.
Germination will usually take 2 to 4 weeks before you notice seedlings emerging from the ground and then your daily watering regiment can be reduced by half to encourage deep rooting. Do not stop watering all together, until the newly seeded areas have been mowed at least 3 times. Please note that each grass seed variety used will germinate at different times and newly seeded areas will not become fully mature for at least 6 months.
Additional Tips & General Information
Get Rid Of The Old Sod
Out with the old. Your new lawn does not want to compete with old sod and weeds.
If you have a small area where you plan to seed grass, hand tools are sufficient to do the job. Get in there with shovels and rakes and dig out the old sod and weeds.
If you plan to remove all vegetation, it may be simpler to use a nonselective broad-spectrum herbicide that will kill any plants it contacts. Follow label instructions carefully and be sure it doesnt overspray or run off the area where you want it applied.
Whichever method you use, though, dont overdo it. You want to loosen the soil and get rid of the old vegetation but preserve that precious good topsoil.
Once you have removed the weeds and old sod, loosen the soil. You dont need to turn the topsoil over. Just break it up so the new grass seeds roots can easily grow through. If you just have a small area to seed, a digging fork will do the trick. For larger areas, consider a core aerator. You can rent one and do the job yourself, or hire a lawn care company to do it for you.
While you have the soil bare is a perfect time to attend to any grading issues your future lawn will have by filling in low spots. Use a half-and-half mixture of sand and topsoil to fill any low spots.
An even lawn without bumps will prevent accidental scalping of your future lawn.
However, not all hills need to be evened out. In rainy parts of the Pacific Northwest, for example, a slight slope is desirable to allow excess rain to flow off.
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Ideal Weather For Germination
Most grass species will germinate at temperatures in the region of 8-10 degrees plus, but should these temperatures be inconsistent and drop frequently, germination and establishment could take longer. For best results, sow your grass seed when temperatures are reaching 8-10 degrees plus consistently for at least two weeks. In the UK, this generally means sowing season is from March September whilst always keeping an eye out for frosts, snow or flooding. When deciding when to sow, consult a two-week forecast.
Seed And Feed On The Same Day
Which goes on first, the seed or the lawn food? It’s up to you. Either way, use a drop or rotary spreader. Just follow the settings on the packages. You want to feed on the same day with Scotts® Starter® Lawn Food for New Grass to give your new grass seedlings a head start.
After the seeds and Starter® lawn food are laid down, cover the seeds with a thin layer of Scotts® Turf Builder® Lawn Soil. You can do this by gently dragging the back of a leaf rake over your seeded area. On hills, mulch with a thin layer of straw to keep seeds from washing away. Make sure you can plainly see the seedbed beneath the straw. You can also mulch with straw on the rest of your new lawn to help cut back on water use.
Keep on watering
After all your efforts, you don’t want your grass seed to dry out. Make sure the top inch of soil in your new lawn stays moist. You may need to lightly water two or three times a day. Keep at it until your seedlings are well-established. Once your new lawn has reached a mowing height, you can reduce the frequency and start watering thoroughly once or twice a week.
Great, your new lawn is growing vigorously. Now you have to cut it. Make sure you only mow the top third of the grass blades. Adjust your mower to high setting to keep the lawn nice and thick. When you cut it too short, weeds can sneak in.
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