How To Overseed A Lawn (Step-by-Step Guide)

How To Overseed A Lawn

If you ask just about anyone who enjoys gardening and landscaping, there are few things as pretty as a nice, lush lawn with soft, touchable grass. Most people roll out the sod then wonder why it doesn’t bloom the way they see golf courses grow. Ever wonder what’s the deal here? It’s a little yard care secret known as overseeding.

Overseeding a lawn is a practice designed to maximize grass output in a lawn by planting grass seeds into a pre-existing lawn, without the use of a hole punch or turning over the grass. To do this, mow your lawn short, loosen the soil with a rake, then use a lawn seed spreader to drop grass seeds all over your lawn. 

Everyone in the neighborhood wants to be the house with that perfect lawn, but it’s oh, so hard to get professional results without knowing how. This guide will tell you all about the ins and outs of this incredible landscaping secret. With a little work, you might be able to bring your lawn care to new heights.

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What Is Overseeding?

Overseeding is the process of adding seeds to a lawn that already up and sprouting. By sowing more seeds to your lawn, you will be able to add more dimension and life to your grass. Unlike other lawncare methods, this is a form of grass planting that does not involve turning over the lawn or using a new layer of sod.

Why Should You Overseed Your Lawn?

Almost every single major lawncare company out there makes a point of overseeding. Why? Well, there are several reasons why people prefer to do this. The most common reasons include:

  • Because it’s the fastest, easiest way to fill in thinning lawns and reduce the chances of bald patches on your lawn. If you have damage from pets or other factors, overseeding can act as a reliable way to mitigate the damage.
  • Overseeding also helps add dimension to your lawn. You can grow multiple types of seeds in your lawn without issue using this technique. If your lawn just looks a bit drab, overseeding is a good idea.
  • Studies show that overseeding is a great way to prevent weed growth and mushroom growth. With all the extra space that the new grass will take up comes the perk of not having weeds spread there.

Most sod and standard lawncare practices will not be able to grow as lush and verdantly green as standard professional lawns. This is just because grass seeds don’t always take root. Even when they do, grass tends to die over time. Overseeding has a huge impact on grass’s ability to regrow.

Is Overseeding Easy?

Though it’s most commonly done by professional lawncare crews, the truth is that overseeding is actually really easy to do. If you want to save money on your lawn’s growth, this is a great way to do it. It takes a couple of hours, and will provide excellent results.

How To Overseed Your Lawn

Now that you understand the ins and outs of overseeding, it’s time to discuss the full details of what it means to oversee your lawn. Here’s what you will need to do:

  1. Run out to your local garden supply store. Grab a large bag of grass seeds and rent out a lawn spreader if you don’t have one in your garage. We suggest taking time to select a grass species that is known for working well with your local environment as well as the level of use your lawn sees. This way, you will be able to enjoy your lawn for longer.
  2. Go home, and mow your lawn. Choose to cut your lawn slightly shorter than you normally would. Don’t skip this step, as you need to ensure that your lawn is short enough to allow seeds access to the ground. Most grasses will need to be trimmed down by 2/3 of their typical length.
  3. Clean up all the clippings. Bag up the clippings and dispose of them as compost or trash, your pick. We suggest donating the grass clippings to a local compost, simply because it’s the earth-friendly choice.
  4. Use a rake to sweep away any remaining debris, then use it to loosen up the soil. You might need to be a little firm when you hit the ground with the rake. The idea here is to just loosen it up, not poke holes in the ground. If you aren’t sure whether you’re doing it right, think of this as “massaging the ground” with your rake.
  5. Load up your lawn spreader with the grass seed of your choice. Once the spreader is loaded, take a trip all over your lawn with it, allowing the seeds to spread at a leisurely pace. To ensure that you’re overseeding the right way, check the grass seed bag’s label to determine what the proper overseeding rate is, and follow that. Make sure you don’t do this on a windy day, otherwise you’ll lose your seeds!
  6. Add a thin layer of compost to your lawn. 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch of fertilizer is going to be a must if you want to see the newly seeded grass grow. The fertilizer will act as both nourishment and a way to secure the seeds in place. The compost doesn’t have to be anything fancy for it to be a great pick. Anything that’s high in nutrients will work well.
  7. Wait for your lawn to grow. If you followed the steps to the letter, you will have overseeded your lawn. From here, do a light watering session and then let the seeds settle in.

Can You Just Use An Overseeder?

Of course! Overseeders are machines that are specially designed to do all the work of a proper overseeding job faster. While they won’t usually be able to cover your area with fertilizer, they will be able to loosen up the soil, possibly trim your grass, and also drop seeds in. They’re a great addition to your lawncare supplies if you are a fan of DIY.

Though having an overseeding machine can be a great way to cut down work, it’s not necessary. People have been overseeding their lawns long before they were invented, so don’t think they’re a must-have.

When Should You Overseed Your Lawn?

Here’s the snag that most people don’t get when it comes to overseeding: timing is everything. The vast majority of people choose to overseed during the early spring months, like March or April. This is because this is usually the time when lawns could use it the most. However, there’s still more to the whole timing thing than just knowing the most popular month to do this thing.

The most important aspect to realize is that you have two major seed categories: cool-season grasses and warm-season grasses. Knowing when to seed each is important. Here’s the scoop.

Cold-Season Grasses

This is a type of grass that works best when your lawn is already thriving, and as the name suggests, it’s usually planted in the colder times of the year. This can be late summer to early fall, so like, August or September. If you live in an area where it never really gets too cold, you might even be able to use this grass in October!

Warm-Season Grasses

A warm-season grass is a type of grass that is meant to be planted when your lawn hasn’t fully grown in yet, often during the early spring. This is the best grass to plant shortly after you’ve finished up your snowfall season. This works best in late summer to early fall, making it a good “winter” choice in most areas.

Why Did My Overseeding Fail?

While overseeding isn’t hard to do, it can be easy to want to cut corners and mess up the entire procedure. Worried about goofing up, or just wondering what didn’t go right after your attempt? These common mistakes are what usually cause failure:

  • When you were at the store, you didn’t pick the right grass. It may sound silly, but picking the right grass is everything. Make sure that you choose a grass that suits your environment, sunlight levels, as well as the month that you want to overseed your lawn. If you’re not sure which seed type will work, ask someone! It’s the easiest way to make sure you get the right type.
  • You seeded your lawn on a windy day, or you didn’t seed your lawn at the right pace. Both can lead to lawns looking clumpy or sparse, despite the best efforts to the otherwise. Too much seeding will cause over competition, while underseeding will make your lawn look threadbare. Those directions are NOT suggestions, so make sure to follow them.
  • Due to a tight schedule, you decided to ignore the right timing. I did mention that timing is everything, right? If you plant the seeds at the wrong time of year, they will most likely die.
  • Though we warned you that you needed to fertilize your seeds, you skipped it. This can easily lead to the seeds getting swept up with the wind or just dying of malnutrition. It doesn’t take too much compost to keep your lawn healthy, so just give it a simple coating.
  • You decided to top off your overseeding session with weedkiller. This might seem like a good choice at the start, but it’s not. Weedkiller will also kill seedlings and seeds, especially if they are not covered too well. Give your lawn at least a week or two before you decide to do a Roundup session.

Should I Hire A Crew To Overseed My Lawn?

Choosing to hire a professional crew to overseed your lawn is something that’s relatively individual in choice. People who enjoy taking care of their lawns on their own have no need to hire a crew to do it if they don’t want to. After all, the steps themselves are not that hard to follow. It could save you a decent amount of money.

However, if you have a very large backyard or just want to make sure you get it done the right way, overseeding can be left to the pros. The average cost to overseed or reseed your lawn will range between $465 to $1,524. This makes overseeding one of the more expensive lawncare options you can choose.

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Related Questions

Is aeration and overseeding your lawn worth the time and effort?

If it’s done correctly, overseeding and aerating your lawn can be remarkably beneficial to your lawn as well as the well-being of your garden. Well-overseeded lawns are less likely to get weeds, more likely to look full, and generally remain healthier. If your lawn recently experienced damage due to pet waste or inclement weather, overseeding your lawn can be a great damage reduction option.

Will grass seeds grow if I just throw them on the ground?

Grass seeds have the potential of growing if they’re just tossed on the ground, but the chances of your grass looking lush are going to be very slim. Uncovered grass seeds will have poor germination, are more likely to be eaten by animals, and won’t have the warmth they need to sprout.

There’s a reason why landscapers aerate the lawn and spread seeds in a specific way. It’s the only way to ensure that the seeds have a good chance of growing. If we could just toss seeds on the ground and see great results, the entire art of landscaping would be grossly different from what it is today.

How much land will a 50-pound bag of grass seed cover?

Believe it or not, it’ll cover a lot of land! A single 50-pound bag will be enough to cover up to 10,000 square feet of lawn. However, there’s no need to do any guesswork here. Most grass seed bags will describe the exact amount of land you should expect to cover per bag, right on the front of the bag.

Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

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