Fall is the best time of the year to overseed your existing lawn or establish a new lawn. If your lawn is a bit thin, has bare patches or needs good care, now is the time to take care of it so it can become thoroughly established before warm temperatures arrive in spring.
Overseeding A Weak Lawn
A weak lawn may have thin or scraggly patches, seem overrun with weeds or have bare patches that are difficult to keep green and lush. Overseeding can help eliminate these problem areas and create a more consistent, luxurious lawn.
- Spray broadleaf weeds with a selective herbicide and wait 2 weeks for the weeds to disappear. Several treatments may be necessary if the yard is thick with weeds.
- Take a soil sample of your lawn to determine the pH. A garden extension service can help determine pH levels, or home test kits are available.
- Mow shorter than normal and rake clean to remove unnecessary debris that may keep seeds from reaching the soil.
- Core aerate if you have compacted soil or heavy thatch. Remove the cores and dispose of them properly to keep the soil light and airy for seeding.
- Apply starter fertilizer and lime if determined to be needed by the pH test, or choose a grass type that will thrive in your soil’s conditions.
- Dethatch your lawn if thatch is thicker than ½ inch. This can be done with heavy raking or a special dethatching rake may be necessary in extreme cases.
- Overseed with the proper seed. If core aerating, lightly topdress with topsoil or humus.
- If needed, cover the freshly seeded area with netting or hay to discourage birds or other wildlife from consuming the seed before it grows.
- Water daily until grass has germinated, then soak once a week to encourage deep root growth.
- Fertilize in late fall with fall fertilizer.
Seeding A New Lawn
If you have no existing lawn or the entire ground is overrun with nothing but weeds, it may be best to start from scratch and create the lawn of your dreams.
- Kill existing vegetation with nonselective herbicide. If you want to preserve nearby trees or shrubs, take steps to protect that vegetation from the treatment.
- Take a soil sample of your lawn to determine the pH. A testing kit can provide a good pH estimate, or a gardening center or garden extension service can provide a more precise evaluation.
- Prepare soil by breaking up the surface with a rake or spade using a crisscross pattern. All large lumps should be broken up, and any large rocks should be removed.
- Broadcast starter fertilizer, lime and gypsum as determined by the pH test. This will provide a nutrition boost for fresh seeds.
- Spread topsoil or humus to a ½ inch depth for appropriate planting.
- Rototill to a depth of 4 inches and grade smooth. This will mix all the top layers together for uniform soil and nutrition, ensuring even turf growth.
- Sow proper seed and mulch lightly with salt hay to control erosion and conserve moisture.
- Water daily until grass has germinated, then soak once a week to encourage deeper root growth to resist droughts and repel weeds.
- Fertilize in late fall with fall fertilizer to provide nutrition throughout the season.
No matter what the condition of your lawn, fall is the best time to take steps to help it rejuvenate so you have an amazing lawn to enjoy in spring.