Overseeding in Spring: All You Need to Know

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Is your lawn riddled with bare spots? Or are you looking to enhance your lawn’s color? As a solution, you don’t have to tear up your entire lawn but can overseed these areas.

Overseeding is the straightforward process of spreading grass seed over an existing lawn and when done right delivers excellent results. 

With regards to the best times to overseed your existing lawn with fresh grass seed for healthy grass growth, you can overseed in the fall and spring.

I usually like to spread new grass seeds in the spring for several reasons starting with it being a time that receives warm enough temperatures for the seeds to germinate

In this article, I’ll go into detail about the benefits of overseeding in the spring for a green lawn, the drawbacks of overseeding in the spring, how to overseed your lawn, the best grass seeds, and 4 great overseeding techniques. 

Overseeding in Spring

The Benefits of Overseeding in Spring

There are myriad benefits of overseeding your lawn in the spring, most notably: 

Increased Drought Tolerance

Overseeding your lawn in the spring gives your lawn greater resistance to drought. For example, spreading new extremely drought-tolerant St.Augustine grass seeds can help your entire lawn withstand dry conditions. 

Improved Pest and Disease Resistance

Spring overseeding with seeds that grow well in your area provides disease resistance and helps nurture a healthy lawn. And a healthy lawn is in a better position to withstand pests and diseases. 

Enhanced Color and Density of the Lawn

Overseeding in spring fills the areas of your lawn damaged by pests and pets, which enhances the overall color and density of your turf. You can even overseed warm-season grasses with cool-season grass like Kentucky bluegrass to add green color during the winter

Reduced Water Consumption

Overseeding in spring pays off by reducing the amount of water, fertilizer, and pesticides required since new grass seeds require just light watering twice a day for the first few days. 

The Drawbacks of Overseeding in Spring

  • The biggest drawback of overseeding is the costs and labor involved.
  • Another disadvantage of overseeding in spring is the maintenance required in fertilization, mowing, and irrigation management. 
  • In some cases, overseeding warm-season grasses with cool-season grasses can delay next year’s spring green-up of your permanent and can even weaken it. 
  • And unless you buy and spread high-quality weed-free seeds, you run the risk of introducing weeds to your yard.

8 Easy Steps to Overseed Your Lawn

1. Gather the Supplies 

The first and most important thing to do before you overseed is gathering all the things needed for the process. These supplies include: 

2. Dethatch and Aerate the Turf if Necessary 

Aerating and dethatching are two important lawn care processes that are recommended before overseeding. Reason being they improve grass-to-soil contact to encourage grass seed germination. 

If you have compacted soil in your yard, core aeration is a great way to break it down to promote deeper root growth. Dethatching is only needed if you have a thatch layer greater than 3/4 inch. 

Aerating lawn before overseeding

3. Mow the Lawn Short 

Mowing the lawn short is another important step to perform before spreading new grass seed. Mowing the lawn will help the seeds make better contact with the soil so that they can get the sunlight and water they need to germinate and grow. 

4. Rake to Remove Debris and Dead Grass

Even though I recommend leaving the grass clippings on your lawn so that they can decompose and return nutrients to the soil, you should rake any grass clippings and debris that may come between the seeds and the soil when overseeding. 

Raking to remove debris and dead Grass before overseeding

5. Add Enriched Topsoil 

Enriched topsoil features a rich dark brown color and is fine textured loam to sandy loam soil classification. This nutrient-rich soil will help the new grass grow quicker and thicker, and grass seedlings make better seed-to-soil contact.

You can use a fertilizer spreader to apply approximately 1/4 inch thick of topsoil over your existing grass. Take note that there are some grass seed mixtures that already include topsoil, in which case skip this step and move to the next. 

6. Spread the Grass Seed

Spreading new seeds may seem easy right? Simply, grab a bunch of seeds from the bag and sprinkle them across the affected areas! But going this route will result in uneven coverage.

The correct way to spread grass seeds is with some type of spreader. After adding grass seed to the spreader with the grass seeds and walk across your lawn in rows for uniform coverage. 

7. Fertilize the New Grass Seeds 

Choosing the best fertilizer for new grass seeds can be overwhelming, given the sea of options to choose from. But my go-to choice is Scotts Turf Builder Starter Food

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  • Grows new grass 70% thicker, 35% quicker versus unfed grass
  • Improves seeding results--also great for sod and grass plugs
  • 24-25-4 fertilizer ratio provides the nutrients for developing lawns

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This starter fertilizer grows new grass 70 percent thicker and 30 percent thicker and improves seeding results, making it a great choice for new grass seed, sod, and grass plugs. Plus, it’s safe to use for any grass type and features a 24-25-4 N-P-K ratio. 

8. Water Your Lawn Generously 

Before providing adequate water for your new grass seeds, check the weather forecast to ensure that there’re no rainy weather conditions in the forecast. 

If rain is expected hold off on watering because the rainfall will provide the right amount of water your grass seeds need. 

But if there’s no rain expected, water your lawn deeply, and lightly every day after the initial watering session just enough to keep the soil moist until the new grass establishes. 

Choosing the Right Seed to Overseed Your Lawn

Grass seeds are the stepping stone to a healthy lawn. There are several factors to consider when choosing the right grass seed for your lawn. 

Cool-Season vs. Warm-season Grasses

There are two types of grasses to choose from – cool-season grasses and warm-season grasses.

  • Cool-season grasses thrive in northern regions that experience cool spring and fall seasons, and moderate summers. 
  • Warm-season grasses contrarily yield vigorous growth in hot climates but can’t withstand northern winters.

However, to keep your warm-season grass vibrant and lush green all year round, you can oversee your warm-season lawn with a cool grass variety. The two main choices for overseeding cool-season lawns are annual ryegrass and perennial ryegrass

Germination Rate

The grass seed germination rate depends on the quality of the grass seeds you buy. High-quality grass seeds offer a 90-95 percent germination rate, whereas cheap, low-quality grass seeds typically provide a much lower germination rate. 

grass germinating

Seed Blend vs. Pure Seed

Every bag of grass seed will have a seed tag or seed analysis tag attached.

Seed Blends

Seed blends are mixtures that combine several different mixtures of grass seeds in one package. This could be beneficial for overseeding a lawn because each type of seed offsets the other, which keeps your lawn green and healthy.

For example, if you’re looking to repair a damaged lawn, you can choose a seed mixture such as a mix of fescues. 

Pure Seeds

Pure seed indicates the quality of pure grass seeds vs. the other contents in the package. For growing a lawn with a single grass type, choose pure seed with a higher ratio instead of a seed blend. 

Sun or Shade

Some types of grass seeds grow well in full sun and others in partial shade.

  • Full sun areas are those that receive more than 8 hours of direct sunlight each day. 
  • Medium or moderate shade areas receive 4 to 6 hours of direct sun each day.

Most lawn grasses prefer more sun, but if your lawn can’t provide long hours of sunlight, you’ll have to plant a mix of lawn grasses. 

PRO TIP

Tall fescues are moderately shade tolerant and excel in a wide range of climates including the challenging transition zone. 

Best Grass Seed for Overseeding in Spring

Overseeding a lawn with a premium quality grass seed every two to three years will keep your lawn looking its while keeping weeds including grassy weeds, broadleaf weeds and other types of weed growth at bay. 

1. Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed All-Purpose Mix 

The Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Sun and Shade Mix uses the WaterSmart PLUS coating which helps the seeds absorb more water, feed them with essential nutrients and protects seedlings from disease.

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  • Product 1: Includes Scotts best seed, protects against disease, keeps seed moist 2x longer and feeds to jumpstart growth for thicker, greener grass

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2. Jonathan Green Black Beauty Original Grass Seed

The Jonathan Green Black Beauty Original Grass Seed is billed as the best drought-tolerant grass seed and contains a 100 percent cool-season tall fescue blend. It is perfect for growing in both sunny and shady areas and can cover up to 7,500 square feet. 

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  • DROUGHT TOLERANT GRASS SEED - Black Beauty Original grass seed produces grass roots that can grow up to 4-feet deep for superior drought tolerance. The waxy coating on the leaves helps preserve moisture when hot.
  • 100% TALL FESCUE BLEND - Our cool-season grass seed blend features turf-type tall fescues that are dark-green in color, uniform in leaf texture, will not shred when mown, and will thrive under adverse growing conditions.
  • SUNNY & SHADY AREAS - This 100% tall fescue grass seed blend is perfect for growing in sunny and shady areas. Black Beauty Original grass seed thickens and strengthens any sunny or shady cool-season lawn.

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3. Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Kentucky Bluegrass Mix

Another hit from the Scotts hangar – the Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Kentucky Bluegrass Mix is designed for full sun and light shade. The seeds are coated with a 4-in-1 WaterSmart Plus coating, which is designed to absorb more water and nutrients. 

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  • Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Kentucky Bluegrass Mix continuously self-repairs to withstand wear and tear for a thick, durable lawn
  • Kentucky Bluegrass seed mix designed for full sun and light shade, with a fine bladed texture and medium drought resistance
  • Exclusive 4 in 1 WaterSmart PLUS Coating absorbs more water, feeds with essential nutrients and protects seedlings from disease

Affiliate links and images pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on: 2023-01-30


Overseeding Techniques

Broadcasting Seed in Spring Season 

You can broadcast seeds with your hand or with a seed spreader. Broadcast seeding is best performed in the early spring and not late spring. 

  • To broadcast seeds by hand, grab seeds out of the bag, walk and cast the seeds.
  • Broadcasting seeds with a spreader provides uniform coverage, is less tiresome, and increases application rates. 

There are plenty of seed spreader models available, but the key is to choose one that that has an adjustable spread rate setting to spread the seeds uniformly and in accurate amounts. 

At the heart of seed spreaders is a hopper, which features adjustable holes at the bottom. Start by dialing in the seed manufacturer’s recommended setting and then follow your yard’s pattern. 

Drilling Seed

Seed drilling is a method of plating seeds that entails using a seed drill to sow seeds in the ground. A seed drill is not used in residential environments but to sow seeds for crops in large commercial agricultural settings. 

Slit-Seeding

Slit seeding is the process of planting seeds using a machine. Slit-seeders are fitted with tines that separate the dirt, creating a slit. 

Grass seeds are then deposited directly into the grooves to help the seeds easily take root in the soil and absorb the nutrients required for healthy growth under ideal conditions. 

Vertical Mowing

Vertical mowers are equipped with lawn blades that move in a vertical (up/down) plane. Even though this type of mower is typically used to remove thatch buildup in lawns in spring, a lawn care professional often used this tool to plant seeds in residential turfs. 

Caring for Your Newly Overseeded Lawn

Watering Schedule 

New grass seed should be watered twice a day or more in dryer conditions. Make sure the top two inches of soil are moist at all times. To accomplish this, lawn care experts recommend watering daily until all the grass seeds have germinated.  

Mowing

After overseeding your lawn in the spring, it may take up to two months until your new grass is ready to be mowed. You can only think about mowing after all the seeds have germinated but as a thumb rule at least 4 weeks must pass.

Fertilizing

After the seeds germinate, which is around 4 – 6 weeks, fertilize your turf with a high-quality nitrogen-rich fertilizer. 

What Fertilizer to Use When Overseeding in Spring

The fertilizer should have an N-P-K ratio closer to 21–22–4 or any fertilizer that’s predominantly nitrogen.

Disease and Pest Control

Great chances are that overseeded areas will not need a herbicide application. However, you should’ve already removed any weed seeds and pesky weeds before planting grass seeds.

You should wait until you’ve mowed the lawn at least four times before using any post-emergent broadleaf weed control herbicide.

Managing Thatch

Dethatching is a process of removing an excess accumulation of thatch and should be performed before planting grass seed. Both small and large amounts of thatch contain decomposed grass and debris from the soil, which can prevent air, water, and nutrients from reaching the plant roots. 

Dethatching Spring Yard Grass

How to Control Weed and Keep Out Crabgrass When Overseeding in Spring?

The best way to control weeds and prevent crabgrass is by applying a pre-emergent herbicide or crabgrass control products once the ground temperatures in your lawn and garden have been 55 degrees for at least 8 hours., which is usually in early spring. 

Hiring a Professional Seeding Service for Overseeding

Overseeding a lawn can be a bit overwhelming, so it’s best to leave this task to a professional overseeding service such as Trugreen. 

Trugreen is regarded as one of the best lawn care companies in the USA and offers several different lawn care programs to choose from.  


FAQs

Q. What Months Are Best for Overseeding?

A. September is the best month for overseeding worn-out or drought-damaged grass. You can overseed at other times of year too such as in the spring (March to May).

Q. When Should I Start Spring Overseeding?

A. Overseeding in the spring generally delivers great results, if it’s done early enough in the season. Sowing grass seeds in early spring gives the seedlings the right amount of time to mature before the onset of the summer heat. 

Q. Is It Worth It to Overseed in Spring?

A. Fall is the best time to overseed a lawn, but the next option is early spring, which gives the seeds enough time to germinate before the summer heat rolls in. 

Q. How Many Times a Year Should I Overseed?

A. You can overseed your lawn twice a year – once in the late summer to early fall, which gives the grassroots enough time to become established before winter and second in the spring months before summer. 

Q. Should I Over Seed My Lawn Every Year?

A. Just like most other things, grass gets old over a period of time and can’t perform the way it used to. And worn-out lawns not only detract from the curb appeal but serve as an invitation ground for weeds, disease, and insects.

Even if you have a healthy lawn at the moment with no dead spots, overseeding lawns in spring can ensure that your turf stays healthy all year long. 

Q. How Soon After Spring Overseeding Can I Apply Prodiamine?

A. Prodiamine is safe to apply 60 days after overseeding or two mows, whichever is longer.


Here’s an informative video on how to overseed your lawn in Spring:

How To OVERSEED Your Lawn in SPRING // Complete Step by Step Guide

Final Thoughts

Spring is a great time to overseed your lawn because it’s a high-growth period for your grass. Before overseeding, you should perform a soil test to determine if any nutrients are missing from your soil and what soil enhancers or soil improvers to add. 

When spreading grass seed, walk in straight lines for even distribution, after which top the seeds with a 1/4 inch of enriched soil. 

Water your new seeds generously and mow only when the grass has grown over 3 inches in length.

Here is my recommended list of grass seeds for overseeding:

Scotts Turf Builder Sun and Shade Mix for Extreme Conditions...
Jonathan Green (10316) Black Beauty Original Grass Seed Blend -...
Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Kentucky Bluegrass Mix - 7 lb.,...
Scotts Turf Builder Sun and Shade Mix
Jonathan Green Black Beauty Original Grass Seed
Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Kentucky Bluegrass Mix
Scotts Turf Builder Sun and Shade Mix for Extreme Conditions...
Scotts Turf Builder Sun and Shade Mix
Jonathan Green (10316) Black Beauty Original Grass Seed Blend -...
Jonathan Green Black Beauty Original Grass Seed
Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Kentucky Bluegrass Mix - 7 lb.,...
Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Kentucky Bluegrass Mix

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