How Do I? Overseed my Lawn

Rain, glorious rain. 

Saturating, steady, soporific, seed-germinating, sigh with contentment (and relief), kind of rain.  Blessed, life-giving rain. The kind we finally had this weekend. 

So, quite obviously, I am feeling better about the weather.  Better and quite smug, I might add (do forgive  my arrogance), because about three weeks ago, I over seeded my lawn and now it's well, almost lush! (A concept I had, quite frankly, forgotten.)

Over seeding is an annual ritual I greatly look forward to, as its timing is the clarion call to finally banish the dead and tired ol' lawn and replace it with  succulent green sprouts of newly sown grass. Usually for me, this occurs mid-September, though you still have plenty time to get yours done.

I over seeded the bermuda area of turf with a perennial rye (DON"T use an annual will regret it!)  This year I used 'Pizzazz', but most any variety would work. The fescue areas, thinned out from high traffic and the heat and drought, got an application of a fescue seed...this year I think I used 'Millenium', but there are many blends and varieties from which to choose.

My tiny urban lawn is a weekend kind of project.  More like a long morning or afternoon.  If you want to try it for yourself this year, here's the how-to:

1.  Scalp the turf.

Don't do it all at once though, you'll clog your mower.  Take it down in stages.

AND SAVE THOSE CLIPPINGS!  You will use those later.  I find my recycling bin works just fine as a way station until I am ready to use them.

2.  Apply the seed.

Use a drop spreader (vs. a rotary spreader) for this, unless you want lots of grass germinating in your flower beds.  If you must use a rotary spreader (even a small hand-held version can work for a small area), don't get anywhere near the border of the lawn.  Sprinkle grass in this area by  hand, if need be.

I adjust the application rate based on the condition of the turf, but you will find guidelines on the bag of seed itself.

3.  Cover the seed.  

For a couple of reasons: to keep the seed moist and protect it from drying wind and sun, and...hide it from the birds who find bare seed easy pickins'.  It will germinate far more quickly if top-dressed with those saved clippings or peat moss.  I usually just spread the clippings by hand, though I have also used a perforated mesh baler on occasion.

4.  Be patient

Keep the lawn moist.  Water lightly and frequently (vs. deeply and infrequently after your turf is established).  Obviously, having a sprinkler system is quite an advantage at this stage.

Given the right conditions of warm, still days, and cool nights...and the occasional gentle rain, your seed will start to germinate in a 
week or so (I have had some seed germinate in as little as four days.)

Try not to mow until the seed is about three inches long, but DO keep leaves off the tender blades.  You don't want to suffocate the little darlings.

Fertilize with Milorganite (I talk about it in a previous post here simultaneously, or later, and pat yourself on the back for a job well done!

I assure you, your lush emerald turf will be appreciated by neighbors and visitors of any persuasion.

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