When breathing new life into a tired yard or rescuing a bare patch (or two), the easy solution is to reseed the lawn. But to be successful, you’ll need to bear in mind a few considerations, including the best time to lay new seed. It’s also important to prepare your soil, fertilize, and patiently water every day. Following these steps will reward you with a lush carpet of green.
When Should You Reseed a Lawn?
The answer to this question depends on where you live, the local weather forecast, and your existing grass type. You’ll need to spend a few days on this job, so make sure you have the proper time set aside. Also, analyze your lawn to understand its sun exposure and traffic patterns. This knowledge will help you identify the seeds you should plant, keeping in mind that mixing seeds is a common practice – it improves your yard’s overall appearance.
Planting Cool Weather Grass
If you draw a horizontal line across the upper one-third of the United States, any locale north of that line typically has cool weather grasses. They are hardy enough to withstand extreme temperature fluctuations and include:
- Fine and tall fescue
- Kentucky bluegrass
- Perennial ryegrass
The best time to reseed these grasses is early fall or, more specifically, September. Temperatures should be between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit consistently. At this point, the soil is warm enough to optimize seed generation, but the cooler air encourages strong grass growth. This time of year also sees a substantial reduction in weeds so your grass doesn’t have to compete for space and nutrients.
Watch the Weather
As we mentioned earlier, weather factors into when you should reseed a lawn. Ideally, you want to stay 45 days out from the first fall frost. Then, with proper sunlight, rainwater, and fertilizer, your seedlings will be well-established before winter sets in.
The Timeline for Warm Weather Grasses
If temperatures in your area consistently reach 90 degrees F or higher throughout the summer, and the sun shines nearly every day, you likely have warm weather grasses in your yard. These thrive in sandy soils and can endure long periods of hot weather. The most popular warm-weather grasses include:
- St. Augustine
Spring seeding gives these grasses time to mature throughout the summer and establish healthy roots before cooler winter temperatures set in. But it’s key to ensure you’re outside of frost potential to avoid a late freeze. The soil should be warm but not soaked with water, and daytime temperatures should be in the low 80s.
The Toll of Winter
In the winter, warm weather grasses look dead because they often turn brown. You can boost your yard’s aesthetics during this time by laying some perennial ryegrass seed. Again, timing is everything; do this only after temperatures have started to drop and your lawn looks brown. The ryegrass will give a fresh green hue throughout the winter.
Timing for Transition Areas
By transition areas, we mean those that overlap between cool and warm weather zones. Spring is usually the best time to reseed the lawn in this area. The sun is able to target new growth, the soil is well-irrigated, and almost all grass varieties can adjust to the environment without any stress.
Some Professional Tips
Before you reseed, you should review your yard’s general health. Look for soil that’s hard-packed, which will need to be prepared prior to laying seeds. New growth won’t take root in such conditions, but you can easily remedy this by using a heavy-tine garden rake to loosen the soil’s surface and remove thatch.
If you live in the North and aren’t able to seed in the fall, spring is the next best time to do so. Trees are still blooming, meaning sunlight can easily reach between branches to new seedlings, and hot weather hasn’t yet taken hold. You simply need to watch for consistent soil temperatures and plan for less irrigation because spring rains are usually adequate to keep seeds moist.
Choosing Grass Seeds
The grass seed you choose depends on several factors, including the level of shade your yard usually gets. Some seeds, like fescues, are well-suited to partial shade. Bermudagrass, on the other hand, demands full sun exposure.
Your personal traffic levels will also influence your choice. This refers to the wear and tear made on your lawn every day. If you have children and/or pets, you’ll need to select a grass that doesn’t easily turn brown or develop patchy spots. Also, avoid a seed that is too delicate for your needs; for instance, Kentucky bluegrass is more durable than fine fescue.
Your Yard Size
The size of your yard directly correlates to the amount of seed you’ll need for a healthy lawn. If you have a tight budget and a bigger yard, turfgrass seed might be your best bet. You can also look at a particular product’s pure live seed (PLS) percentage. This calculation helps identify if you’re getting a solid bargain for your money, depending on the number of bags you need to seed your entire yard.
Additionally, if you choose to buy a lower quality seed and are comparing it to one of higher quality, you should factor into your calculations the amount of time and effort necessary to maintain your new seedlings. This includes watering and fertilizing. Sometimes, a lower quality seed suits your budget and yard goals, but other times, after you factor in the care it will require, you’re better off choosing a higher quality option.
Techniques for Reseeding
You can start this process by mowing grass low. You should cut even shorter than normal, bag the clippings, and then rake to help loosen soil and eliminate debris and dead grass. Remember that earlier we said new seeds will not grow in densely compacted soil.
Speaking of soil, now is the time to improve its general conditions to ensure a rich, lush lawn for the next growing season. You can start by testing the pH to ensure it’s between 6 and 7. If your soil does not have the proper pH, you’ll waste between 20 and 70% of the fertilizer you apply. Low pH levels can be corrected by applying lime to your lawn; likewise, high levels can be adjusted by adding organic mulches or sphagnum peat.
Distribute the Seed
Once your lawn is cut and raked and you’ve tested your soil pH, it’s time to spread your grass seed. The easy way to do this is with a spreader, but if you don’t have one, you can also seed by hand. The goal with either method is to deposit roughly 16 seeds for each square inch of soil. This doesn’t mean you need to count your seeds; simply aim for even coverage to give your lawn the appropriate density.
Feed and Water
Once you’ve finished seeding, you can fertilize and lightly water once or twice daily – unless you’ve planted in a rainy season. Avoid mowing until the grass had reached about two inches high.
Reseeding is an easy way to refresh your lawn, but that doesn’t mean the process is quick. You’ll need to do more than scatter seeds around, which is why we’re here to help. Our services can deliver the beautiful yard you want without demanding more of your time. Call Weed-A-Way Home Lawn Care in Mississauga, ON, today to schedule your consultation.