Spring Overseeding

Exmark Slicer SeederIs your lawn not looking as lush as you’d like, even though you’re doing everything to keep it healthy? Maybe it’s time to consider overseeding. By laying down seed in the spring, you can increase the density of your turf and fill in spaces open to weeds. Here’s how.

Why Overseed in the Spring?

Most overseeding is done in the fall to add cool weather grasses, giving the lawn a second growing season as warm season varieties go into hibernation. However, overseeding in the spring also gives your lawn a boost by increasing grass coverage in the spring and summer.

On average, a blade of grass only lives for around 45 days. During its life, the blade extends roots that in turn grow new blades. As grass matures, this root growth slows until the blades are dying out faster than they’re replaced. After three or four years, this can thin out ground coverage. By planting new seed, the cycle starts over again with fresh growth. This fills in open spaces, increasing grass density for a lush looking lawn. The new growth also competes with weeds for soil, reducing the need for herbicides.

When Should I Overseed?

Temperatures aren’t much of a problem for spring overseeding, but you may run into problems with herbicides. Chemicals aimed at crabgrass prevention can hinder new grass growth up to 16 weeks after application, and broadleaf herbicides can stunt growth up to four weeks after application. If you have trouble with either weed, you may want to put off overseeding until the fall.

Preparing Your Lawn

To give your new grass a good start, any soil issues should be corrected before overseeding. Get a soil test, and add amendments to bring the soil nutrients in line with what the grass will need. Avoid using “weed and feed” fertilizers: the herbicides they contain can inhibit new grass growth.

Cut your lawn as short as possible without cutting into crowns, and bag the clippings. The remaining grass should have a height under two inches. This exposes the maximum amount of soil for good seed contact.

Dethatch the lawn. By pulling back the thatch layer, there will be one less barrier between the seed and the ground.

Blade seeders only relieve surface compaction. By aerating your lawn ahead of time, deeper soil compaction is eliminated, making it easier for new roots to penetrate the soil.

Spreading Seed

The seed manufacturer will recommend a range for application density. Go for the maximum amount recommended if the lawn has never been overseeded, and aim for the lower half of the recommended range if the lawn was overseeded in the past couple years. Keep in mind that most equipment manufacturers recommend making two opposing passes when seeding: you’ll need to lay down half the recommended amount with each pass.

Getting Seed to Take Root

Lightly water the lawn two to three times per day. This will keep the soil moist without washing away the seeds or promoting mold. Once the seeds start sprouting, switch to watering the same total amount of water once per day. This water will go deeper into the soil, promoting root growth.

A high-phosphorus fertilizer may need to be applied with the seed or shortly afterward. Unlike other nutrients, phosphorus, marked “P” on the fertilizer bag, isn’t water soluble, so the new plants can’t access it until their root systems develop. Fertilizers designed for overseeding will include extra phosphorus.

Avoid foot and vehicle traffic on the lawn, and hold off on mowing until the new grass is at least two inches tall. Once that happens, you can return to your usual lawn care routine.

From Aerators to Slicer Seeders, Shank’s Has You Covered

If you have a seeder from Exmark or JRCO, an Echo yard sprayer or anything other piece of outdoor equipment, chances are, you can get the parts and service you need at Shank’s Lawn. We’re an authorized dealer for a wide range of manufacturers from BCS to Yanmar, which means we sell and support everything you need for lawn care. Visit our shop at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, PA.

Need parts and accessories for your equipment? You can order what you need from your browser and have it shipped anywhere in the U.S. or Canada. Just visit www.shankslawn.com.

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