The Ins & Outs of Overseeding Fall Lawns

  • Written by: Killingsworth Environmental
  • October 14, 2016

Tips For Overseeding This Fall

The summer of 2016 in and around Charlotte was one of the hottest this region has seen in awhile. But, as the seasons usually go, as soon as it gets cold, we will be wishing for summer again.

Well, in preparation for cooler weather, our team here at Killingsworth has put together a lawn care guide around the topic of overseeding to help repair your lawn after this hot summer and keep it looking great all winter long.

What is overseeding?

Overseeding is an easy and straightforward process of spreading grass seed over an existing lawn to make your lawn look thick while preventing and repairing thin lawns.

Adventurous children and rambunctious pets that enjoy spending time outside playing in the yard can cause your grass to look thin. All of this fun combined with high temperatures and a lack of rain can put your lawn through the ringer.

Overseeding is important, even if your lawn is not thinning.

Overseeding does two things:

1. Prevents thinning. It is easier to prevent thinning than it is to repair thinning.
2. Overseeding in the fall will keep your lawn green all winter while your warm-season grass becomes dormant.

Your lawn will be green and thick all year round!

How does overseeding work?

The southeast is pretty warm throughout the year. But, even when winter comes around, it gets cold! When cold weather hits, your warm-season grass turns brown and goes dormant.

Overseeding your warm-season grass with a cool-season grass provides a vibrant and green lawn during the winter while your warm season grass is dormant.

In a nutshell, it’s like putting a nice winter coat on your lawn, keeping it thick and green, even when it is nasty outside!

Here are some basics for overseeding in North and South Carolina:

  • First, perennial ryegrass is the best option for overseeding warm-season lawns found in the southeast. It has great stress tolerance, germinates fast, and won’t compete with your warm-season grass in the spring.
  • Our recommendation is 10 pounds of seed per 1000 square feet of lawn. Anything less may not provide enough coverage until spring.
  • Certain parts of your lawn may require heavier seeding. i.e., heavy traffic areas where people often walk. A higher seeding rate in high-traffic areas can make a spring conversion difficult, so don’t use too much.

When do I overseed my lawn?

Timing is everything when overseeding your lawn. If overseeding is done too late, the new grass will not have a chance to grow before the temperature drops.

Here are our team’s recommendations for timing when overseeding. When these changes begin to happen, overseed your lawn:

  • Soil temperature at a 4-inch depth needs to be 75 degrees
  • Overnight temperatures need to be consistently in the 50’s
  • Average daytime temperatures need to be between 78 and 83 degrees
  • When warm season grass begins to slow and lose color
  • Or you can time your overseeding 2-4 weeks before the first killing frost
  • These conditions usually occur anytime between mid-October and mid-November. So when the weather feels good, go ahead and overseed your lawn!

How to prepare your lawn for overseeding:

  1. First, scalp your lawn. Successful overseeding requires good soil to seed. For southern lawns like ours, set the blade on your lawnmower as low as it will go. Then, rake the soil and remove the clippings ‘ this will loosen and expose the soil to grab the seed.
  2. Evenly distribute the seed into the soil using a rotary spreader. Then, water your lawn 3-5 times a day, do not exceed half an inch of water, and make sure you don’t puddle the soil. This is important. Over-watering can wash the seeds away. Under-watering can kill the seeds before they germinate.
  3. After the seeds germinate, cut back your watering frequency to once every other day and give your lawn a little more water each time. Once your grass looks good, water as needed!
  4. Mow your lawn once it gets about half an inch higher than you want it to be. Make sure your lawnmower has a freshly sharpened blade and that your grass is dry ‘ this keeps your fresh seeds safe and intact.

Note: Perennial ryegrass will grow about 2 inches in two weeks. When it hits two inches, knock it down to an inch and a half.

Overseeding is an excellent way to help your lawn recover from the harsh, dry summer. It also gives your lawn a thick, green look all winter long and sets you up for an amazing spring!

Contact your Killingsworth lawn care team for a free over-seeding consultation today!

If you’re ready to tackle your lawn but unsure where to start, download our free Killingsworth Workbook: Lawn Care Tips, Tricks And Checklists!

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