The Q&A Archives: overseeding existing lawn

Question: Need to overseed my lawn. WE are on restricted water usage. Need to know a good seed to use and best way to prepare for overseeding.

Answer: The only preparation your lawn will need is gentle raking of any bare areas prior to overseeding (so the seeds make good contact with the soil). It's important to water the lawn well after seeding to wash the seeds down to the soil area.

Cool-season grasses are those grasses that grow primarily during the spring and fall of the year. These grasses become dormant during the hottest portion of the summer and during the coldest part of the winter. Cool-season grasses generally maintain some green color year around except under extreme heat and cold. Included in the category of cool-season grasses are tall fescue, bluegrass, turf type fescue, perennial ryegrass and mixtures of any of these grasses.

In the western region of North Carolina, bluegrass, bluegrass-fescue mixtures or tall fescue are the most common cool-season grasses. In the piedmont, bluegrass-fescue blends or tall fescue are the dominate cool-season varieties. Tall fescue is the only cool-season grass that should be considered as a permanent lawn for eastern North Carolina.

Plant a Mixture of grasses

Mixtures of grasses are more adaptable to varying growing conditions such as shade, soil moisture and temperature. Planting a mixture of grasses also increases the chance of survival from turf diseases since mixtures have varying levels of resistance to different diseases.

Seeding rates of bluegrass are 1.5 to 2.0 pounds per 1000 square feet. Fescue-bluegrass blends and fescue blends should be seeded at a rate of 6.0 pounds per 1000 square feet.

Cool-season grasses are best seeded in North Carolina from mid-August to mid-October, depending on the location in the state. Seeding in the spring is generally not satisfactory since young seedlings do not have enough time to develop a root system capable of providing needed moisture before hot, dry summer weather arrives. If you must seed in the spring, you may want to consider a temporary cover, such as annual ryegrass, until the fall. Another option would be to seed the cool-season grass with the intent of coming back in the fall and overseeding the areas that do not survive.

Good luck with your new lawn!

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