My 5 Top Tips For Overseeding Your Lawn
We hear of many stories where seed has failed in lawns for one reason or another. As we head towards autumn, this post exists for you to make the very most of your overseeding efforts to gain the results you're looking for first time around! Read on to learn more
1) Any lawn repair is all in the preparation
If your first step is to reach for the grass seed you have in the garage, this may be where you have been going wrong...
It is vital that lawn overseeding is carried out at the correct time of year. Even professional grass seed mix will not germinate when the soil temperature is below 5c. Dependent on where you are and the expected weather conditions, seeding can be carried out in the winter months - but be aware that you're not going to gain quick results.
The perfect time however is upon us - early autumn. We complete as much of our seeding work as possible from mid-August to early October due to:
- The warm, summer soil temperature lending itself to quick germination and establishment
- The shorter days, morning dew and incoming autumn rainfall
For the best results, first give the lawn a clear out with a rake / scarifier. Then clear the debris up and aerate before you even consider using any seed. Your lawn will thank you for it later!
2) Age and type of seed in use
Seed doesn't last forever. Every bag of seed should have a label stating the seed types that are in the bag, and the date that the bag was sealed - have a look for this.
After the first 12 months, seed germination can reduce by around 10% of seed per year. If you have a bag of seed that has been in your shed for the last 4 years, then it could be that only around half of it is now viable unfortunately. You can always test it on a small area, but you may need to be prepared to do the work twice if you choose to use older seed.
There are many differences in grasses that we commonly look to grow in lawns. Common grasses include ryegrass, fescue, and sometimes bent and meadow grass. Each of these have many different cultivars with varying strengths and weaknesses. These include their tolerance to shade, tolerance to drought, wear tolerance, tolerance to close mowing, density, colour... the list goes on!
Make sure that what you are using is going to be fit for purpose on your lawn. Most DIY branded seed mixes will give you an idea from the box as to its purpose - but don't expect a 'fine lawn' mix made up of fescue and bent to be able to survive if you have 2 dogs and kids that actually need a ryegrass dominated seed mix more suited to a football or cricket pitch!
3) Brush seed into holes and grooves
Seed sat on the surface of your lawn, as already touched upon, isn't going to be enough to gain the results you're looking for.
After you've scarified and aerated, there should be holes and grooves all over your lawn - the more the better in the areas where the grass is thin or bare.
After seeding, lightly brush (or as we do, dragmat) seed so it disturbs the soil surface and knocks into the holes and grooves.
If you aren't planning on top-dressing your lawn then this is a must for good germination - there's no way that the seed can gain the seed to soil contact otherwise. The seed must be planted like any other seed and it being in contact with the soil, rather than just the surface, will give it the best chance of success.
4) Use of top dressing
If there are dips in your lawn, be aware as we don't want you to be burying the seed any deeper than 1cm as a maximum - otherwise it may not make it back through. If you need to correct dips, use a denser top soil product first and tread this down to hollow it out before overseeding and top dressing.
To enhance germination, only a very fine dusting of top dressing is needed. Save yourself the cost and the backache - we've been there so you don't have to!
5) Don't forget about lawn repairs...
You've carried out steps 1-4, the lawn is covered in soil and your wife thinks you've gone mad. Now what?
You're not quite there unfortunately - not if you're going to gain the turnaround that you've been bragging about anyway!
You've got the soil temperature, you've got the soil contact... but like any other plant these seeds need water!
Little and often is the key when looking to bring grass through. Don't be tempted to flood the lawn by leaving a sprinkler in the same place. It will wash around your hard work and the seed can rot if this is done repeatedly.
As you would any other plant or pot, look to keep the soil damp, watering early morning and again in the evening. If there is rain that day then great, take the day off, but be sure you're keeping on top of it until you start to see those fresh green shoots after 8-21 days.
Once germination really starts to get going and all the seed is through, you can water a little deeper every other day to encourage roots to search downwards for water. Your first cut of the area following your overseeding will likely be 3-4 weeks since you carried out the initial work.
Can we help?
Gaining a dense grass cover for your lawn takes more than just seed. Getting the seed to germinate is a start, but having this newly seeded area fill out and thicken up is really what we are all looking for. For this to happen, ongoing care needs to be given to your lawn in the form of a calculated nutrition plan, with weed and moss control.
If we can help with your lawn this year, then please feel free to get in touch via the contact form below, or you can call us on 01827 438975.