over seed - Knowledgebase Question

Cahokia, Il
Question by charlesarms
January 22, 2010
when is the best time to overseed.should i fertilizer before or after.also my back yard has a lot of shade and a small amount of grass.what is the best way to start healthy grass. thanks in advance Charles

Answer from NGA
January 22, 2010


Spring is a good time to overseed. Begin by raking out any dead areas and then broadcast your seeds. Wait until after you've moved the lawn twice before fertilizing to eliminate the chance of burning the new grass. It's difficult to get grass to grow in shady areas but some turf types are more shade tolerant than others.

The fine-leaf fescues are considered the most shade tolerant of the cool-season grasses. Creeping red fescue, Chewing?s fescue, sheep fescue and hard fescue all have shown promise in heavily shaded areas. It's best to sow seed in shaded areas in the fall. Fall seedings generally are more successful than spring seedings because they go into the first summer more mature with a better root system and more stored food reserves.

Turfgrass growing in shade generally requires less total nitrogen than grass in full sunlight because of the reduced rates of photosynthetic activity. Over application of nitrogen on shaded grasses reduces stored food reserves and produces thin cell walls which can cause disease on the turfgrass plants.

Other ways to ensure success:
Raise the mowing height. Increased mowing height induces larger root systems and healthier plants.
Irrigate infrequently, but heavily. An irrigation program that minimizes the amount of time shaded areas are moist is beneficial in reducing disease. Infrequent watering also tends to minimize compaction and reduce shallow surface rooting.
Reduce use of the area. Thin cell walled grass plants with little food reserve cannot bear much traffic without sustaining damage. Therefore, any effort to minimize traffic in shaded areas is beneficial.
Provide good drainage. Poor drainage increases the possibility of disease activity.
Remove leaves and debris promptly. Quick removal of leaves and debris all year long is essential as they shade the grass plant and reduce its food making potential.

Best wishes with your lawn.

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