Have you ever laid out grass seed expecting a new and improved lush green lawn and... nothing happens?
Prepping your lawn before you overseed not only helps make sure the seeds actually sprout, it can also make a world of difference in the health and appearance of your grass. One blog reader, Andrew, wanted to get a handle on how to properly prep his lawn for reseeding. He asked: “In addition to aeration, should compost be applied to existing turf just before adding seed?”
Andrew has the right idea—things like aeration and soil enhancements help grass get off to a good start. But what else do you need to prepare your lawn for reseeding? Keep reading for a step-by-step guide.
Wait until it’s the right time to overseed in your area. In northern regions, shoot for early fall. And in southern regions, overseed in spring, especially if you are seeding with bermudagrass.
Aeration is a super important step in the process—don't skip it!
Lawn soil that’s been sitting awhile can firm up quite a bit. Also, each time you mow, a layer of dead grass—called thatch—builds up between the soil and live grass blades. So overseeding a lawn as-is means you’ll be dropping seeds overtop dead grass and packed soil. Nine times out of ten, those seeds won’t sprout. That’s where aeration comes in handy—it loosens up the soil, removes thatch and helps air and water flow in so seeds have the perfect growing environment.
If you can’t get your hands on an aerator, the next best option is to rake your lawn with a metal rake to remove mild thatch and loosen soil. For heavy thatch (say, more than a half-inch or so) use a dethatcher.
After you’ve prepped your lawn, apply the grass seed with a drop or broadcast spreader. Then, add a starter fertilizer and lightly rake the seed and fertilizer into the soil. Finish up with a gentle soak of water, being careful not to wash away the seeds.