When you reseed your lawn there are a few differences from regular lawn maintenance. I want to explain what lawn reseeding is, so we will all be on the same page.
Some people might see lawn reseeding as a complete removal of all current grass and then seeding it all over again. If you’re the one who thinks this, then you would be correct. But that’s not the whole story. If you’re the one who thinks reseeding is when you seed areas of your yard that have gone bare, or died, then you would be correct. A partial reseeding of your yard is also something you might do.
If you are the person who thinks reseeding is planting a winter grass on top of your current grass, you would be mistaken. That’s what you would call over-seeding. You can over-seed with a winter grass in order to have a green look in the winter. Most winter grasses will completely die off in the summer, so you won’t have to worry about competing grasses in your yard.
Reseeding, however, is where you go over your grass (whether all or part of it) with the same grass seed you are currently growing.
You might be asking why you should reseed your lawn. This answer may resemble some of the things we talked about when describing what lawn reseeding is. But I want to make sure you understand it from a problem prospective. To do that, let’s pretend for a minute that you are looking out your front window at your grass and you can see dirt.
Not a pile of dirt, I’m talking about being able to see the dirt through your grass. This is what’s called thinning. Your grass has become thin, and it’s time to address what’s causing it, and then (you guessed it) reseed your yard.
You might also be walking into your house one day and notice dirt, again, not a pile of dirt, but a large spot of dirt where grass should be growing. At this moment, it’s time to discover what caused this spot, and (you guessed it) reseed the area.
You might also be looking at your neighbors yard one day and think to yourself, “My neighbors yard is really thick, I’d like a thick yard to.” At this moment, you are going to want to (you guessed it) reseed your lawn. Hopefully, you’re starting to get the general idea, for the three main reasons you should reseed your lawn.
So you think it’s time to reseed your lawn, but you don’t know when the best time to do it might be. Reseeding has some good times, better times, and absolute no times. The absolute no times to reseed your lawn is when its dormant. You can recognize a dormant lawn when it looks completely dead. You might also say, “Don’t reseed in the winter.” But, if you are using a winter grass such as Fesque, it does it’s best growing in the winter.
The better time to reseed your lawn is pretty much anytime it’s not dormant. If you have a bare spot for example in your yard, and it’s the hottest time of the year. You can reseed the area, as long as you are careful to provide enough water to keep the soil damp at all times. It’s not the best time, but it can be done.
That brings us to the best time to reseed. I usually reserve this one for a complete reseeding of your lawn. Early spring or late winter when winter is pretty much over, is a great time to get those new seeds in the ground. Of course, you still want to keep them damp, but it’s going to be a lot easier to do in the cooler season.
To dive into the “how” you need to remember that grass can grow when it’s simply spread on top of the soil. It’s not the ideal way of doing it, but if you throw grass on the ground, and it’s get’s sun and water it will grow. What we want to do is to create a great environment for the grass to grow in. This makes it stronger, and healthier in the long run.
If you are simply wanting to plant a different grass than you currently have, or you have a bare spot caused by some yard work you can skip this step. But, if you are fixing a bare spot, or your yard is thinning, you should check these few things before investing time and money into the reseeding process.
Bare spots can be caused by insects, erosion or water run off, or encroaching shade.
If you have a large and ever expanding bare spot in your yard, the first place to look is at your trees. Trees get bigger every year, and as they do, they make bare spots bigger as well. This is caused by the lack of sunlight to the grass. In this case, you will want to thin your trees, or cut back the branches in order to get the sunlight back before you reseed the area.
If your yard doesn’t have trees, your bare spot may be insect or fungus related. Fungus is usually caused by lack of proper drainage to the area. For example if the area is a low dip in your yard where water sits for long periods of time, it’s more likely to be a fungus. However, if it’s a flat area and there’s no trees, you might have an insect problem. Each one of these issues should be addressed before moving on to the next step.
Grass doesn’t like rocks (obviously) its roots are small and fragile. It needs loose soft dirt to grow in. This doesn’t mean you have to get a tiller and till your ground up six inches down, as grass roots do not go that deep. Mostly they stay in the top one to two inches of dirt. So, your environment preparation work should take place with that in mind.
Preparation of the soil should have two goals: get rid of rocks and debris, and grind the soil to a powder like feeling. That is if you are redoing a spot, or your entire yard. You can use a small cultivator (a small tiller with fine tines that grinds the soil quickly) for small areas, or a Harley Rake (a long bar that resembles the bar of a music box, that grinds the top two inches of soil into powder) if the area is much larger.
You will want to work both goals at the same time, grinding the soil, and removing exposed debris at the same time. This is going to get your soil in the right shape for the next step. Don’t be to picky about soil composition as grass can grow in just about anything. You might want to add something to the soil if you have a bare spot that looks like rocks, and red clay.
The next step in the process is going to get out some more debris as well as level-off the area. You won’t be needing a yard level or any other level for small areas, but you might want one if you are sloping your yard for water run-off. Keeping in mind, you don’t want water to rush across your yard, as this can eat away at the soil around the grass roots, and eventually lead to your grass thinning, which might be why your reseeding your grass today.
You can have a slope on your yard, you just need to slow incoming water so it moves slowly across the surface instead rushing. This can be accomplished with a small hump in the path of incoming water; say, off a hill in the back yard, or off the street. You will want to form this slight hump, usually only about two inches high, similar to a speed bump you’d see in a street. Once it’s formed, and the entire area is raked smooth; eliminating dips and holes, you are ready for the next step.
Professional note: creating a slope can be a difficult process, and can require using
advanced equipment such as a “Transit.” If you are unfamiliar with this equipment, or you have a major water issue, you should consider a hiring a professional.
Congratulations on getting this far, the hard work is now over. It’s time to seed the area. If you have a small bare spot you are repairing, there’s no need to purchase or use a seed spreader to spread the seed. You can use a cup to sling the seed on the area, or let it fall through the cracks of your fingers. Keep in mind some seeds have a coating on them, I always recommend using gloves, or simply washing your hands when your through.
Seed spreaders have a setting on them to dictate how much seed is being spread on any one given time. Deciding what setting to spread your seed on can be a difficult question. If you’ve never seeded before, you should try it on each setting so you can understand how the seeder works before walking your entire yard.
Most people settle on the the half way point, and I recommend using it and then going over your yard twice. The first way back and forth, and then crisscross it the other way back and forth. This makes sure you covered the entire area with a good even spread.
A word of caution; it’s better to do the surrounding eight feet of your garden beds by hand, or with a cup. As you can easily sew a bunch of weeds in your landscape very quickly with a spreader. This will create tons of work later, so taking the time to seed those areas by hand can be a life saver.
Every day at about three in the morning, seed gremlins come and steal freshly planted grass seeds. OK, I’m kidding, but it can seem that way. If you’ve ever planted grass and later been scratching your head because nothing came up, you know what I’m talking about. You need to protect your newly planted grass seeds from birds as well as rushing water.
If your area is relatively flat, and has no risk of water washing your seeds away, you can use hay to cover the seeds. This keeps the birds from seeing all this food (grass seeds) laying all over the ground. You don’t have to do a lot of hay, just break up a bail of hay and sprinkle it over the grass seeds.
I also recommend getting some water on it ASAP, as this can help to set the new seeds into the fresh powdered dirt surface you’ve created. On the other hand if you’ve got lots of water coming across the area, you will need to employ some erosion netting to the area.
Erosion netting sometimes comes mixed with hay, and other times it’s like a pre-made mat you can lay down over the area. Then depending on how much water you have coming across the area, you can use sod staples to tack down the erosion netting tightly to the dirt area. This will hold your grass seeds in place while your waiting on them to grow.
If your asking yourself whether you should just hire a professional to do all these steps for you, I might be able to help with that. For small bare spot areas, you can usually do those yourself. But the real question is “Did you evaluate the reason for the bare spot?” That’s usually where you would need a professionals help. Most Biological lawn care companies can evaluate a spot at no cost. They can even make recommendations on how to fix the issue, and can even do the reseeding for you, making hiring a professional a no-brainer. I guess it really depends on how comfortable you are with the above steps.
On the other hand if your entire yard is needed to be reseeded, this can be very labor intensive, and unless you have a week or so to dedicate all your spare time into getting this done, I’d recommend hiring a professional. Also, if you have a lot of erosion (dirt being broke loose do to water rushing across an area) you may need a professional to come look at different ways of preventing or easing the flow of water before you look at reseeding the area. This can save you a ton of work and frustration.
If all you had to do to reseed your yard was spread grass seed, anybody could
do it. The simple act of walking around pushing a seeder can be blissfully fun and easy. What you want to think about is the time it takes to grow a great yard. This time is what you have to go through whether you plant the grass seed right or wrong. The real bummer comes when you plant the grass seed wrong, and now you have to do all the prep-work and reseeding all over again. This is why hiring a professional can be such a great idea. Simply because doing it right the first time has many rewards.
People often come to us for a complete grass type change. I usually try to push people away from taking on this type of project unless they are really sure. Planting a whole new yard is a long process, and there are many times in there where your yard can be a little embarrassing. Sort of like if you have really bushy hair right now, and you were to cut it all off tomorrow. It might be little embarrassing for a few weeks while it’s growing back or you are getting used to it. All in all, reseeding your yard is a great way to heal, repair, or gain a new yard for a lower price than purchasing sod and having it installed.