Overseeding is the anti-aging secret for cool-season lawns

Lawns may not wrinkle over time, but older turf can show its age by getting a little sparse. Here’s a practically foolproof anti-aging secret for cool-season lawns: overseeding. This one simple step – spreading seed over your existing lawn – can help restore your yard to a thicker, healthier state.

How overseeding keeps your grass young

Overseeding is a great way to patch bare spots or thinning areas or to liven up a healthy lawn.

Typically, cool-season bunch-type grasses such as tall fescue, fine fescue, perennial and annual ryegrass benefit the most from overseeding. These grasses produce tillers, or new grass blades. These tillers help thicken your lawn. Young grass produces tillers faster than older grass. The younger grass blades also take over seamlessly for the older. This is important because the average grass blade lives only 45 to 60 days.

You may also want to overseed if your lawn has bare spots, thin or patchy grass, or if the grass suffered drought or disease damage. Before overseeding, just make sure you know why your lawn is looking a bit raggedy. That way you can take steps to prevent the same problem from happening again.

Experts recommend overseeding in the fall because:

  • The young grass has time to grow. The seeds will get two or three months to become better established before dropping temperatures stop their growth. The young grass’ roots also will have a head start next spring before the summer’s sweltering heat begins.
  • Summer weed competition is reduced. Weeds such as crabgrass and foxtails won’t grow in the cooler temperatures. The new grass can establish its roots more easily.
  • There’s just enough rain. Seeds need to be moist to encourage germination, but shouldn’t be overwatered. In many areas, fall rains are sufficient.

What about warm-season grasses?

Warm-season grasses, and some transition zone grasses, grow by producing runners. While overseeding won’t thicken these turf types, cool-season grass seeds can be used to green them up during the slower growing seasons. The cool-season grass will die off again once the temperatures get hotter.

Overseeding is an easy, four-step process

  1. young man shopping in hardware store

    When choosing grass seed, be sure to get high quality and a seed that is compatible with your current grass type. Read the label for proper usage instructions.

    Mow your lawn to two inches before overseeding for better seed-to-soil germination. If you also need to aerate your lawn, do that before spreading the seeds.

  2. Choose a seed that is the same, or compatible with, your current grass type. Avoid bargain store seeds, which are often poor quality. Consult the label on the seed bag for the ideal application amount and other specific instructions.
  3. Keep it simple. You don’t need expensive equipment to overseed. Use your hands to re-seed smaller areas. Rotary spreaders also work great for any sized area.
  4. Spread the seed across your lawn in a single direction. Then lightly rake the area after overseeding to further aid seed-to-soil contact.

The heck with aging gracefully! Overseeding once a year can continually rejuvenate your yard’s more youthful appearance.