How To Overseed a Lawn In An Effective Way?

how to overseed a lawn

You’ve no doubt received a ton of advice from your neighbors that, how to overseed a lawn. They might think it’s best to leave it to a professional to start a new lawn. Or that you should tighten your belt and invest in sod. The point is, you can save money and make your new lawn successful by seeding it yourself. All you need is a little preparation of some quality grass seed suitable for your growing conditions, a well-prepared soil, and a little patience.

So how to overseed a lawn? When should you sow? How? ‘Or’ What? How much seed to use? What do we do with shady places? When should you reseed? And, by the way, are there better quality seeds? How to recognize them? These are the questions we will try to answer in this article. So, let’s know more about how to overseed a lawn?

How to overseed a lawn?

In recent years, climate change so much that it is difficult to answer this question. Overall, the best conditions are in spring or fall.

In the fall, around mid-August, early September, the sun is often much more relaxed than in summer, while the ground still retains its heat. Besides, good dews and relatively frequent rainfall help keep the soil moist on the surface, promoting new seedlings’ growth. Under these conditions, your seedlings will need less watering to reach maturity.

You can also sow in the spring when the thaws. As soon as you can scrape the ground, even if it is not yet boiling, you can plant because the thaw and water will help the seed penetrate the soil better. So when the heat arrives, the origin will germinate because it will already be wet (buried under a light layer of soil).

There is another option called seedlings on the jelly, but it has a somewhat lower success rate. This method consists of spreading seeds just before the first snowfall, without adding soil, on level ground. When it is less than 5 degrees, inevitably, the origin will not germinate. Thus, frost, thaw, snow, and melting will displace the seed, which will penetrate the soil’s surface layer. In spring, when the heat arrives, it will germinate.

How much seed to use?

Before you even know how to choose the right seedlings and establish them, it’s essential to know the right amount of seed to use for a given area.

Typically, this is 10 kilos for 4,000 square feet (approximately 370 square meters) of seedlings and 10 kilograms for 8,000 square feet (around 740 square meters) of overseeding. 

How to overseed a lawn? Follow the steps:

To achieve the best result with seedlings, good seed contact with the soil is essential. For this, the best technique, which gives excellent results and the most demanding, is adding soil before sowing. However, you have to be careful:

  • By adding more soil, we can see the reappearance of weeds. If you buy new potting soil, get a guarantee from the supplier that the mixture is weed-free.
  • Also, avoid smothering established lawn grasses (by adding too much potting soil).
  • The goal is to fill and densify the lawn. 
  • You can scrape the ground vigorously and then sow (before adding a layer of potting soil).
  • Some contractors have a machine that will use to scrape the ground, much like a dethatcher. It will remove the thatch and scatter the seeds on the ground afterward.
  • Another technique that works well is to spread the seed and double aeration afterward. 
  • The last method, the most expensive, offered by rare specialized contractors, gives the best results. It involves using a Vertical planter (which is difficult to handle), which will create a slit in the soil before depositing/burying the seed in the furrow.

Finally, regardless of the technique used, the important thing is to obtain good soil contact with the seed.

How to recognize a quality seed?

First, a quality seed is a mixture of seeds that contains as many cultivars as possible, that is, as much different seed genetics.

In a lawn mix, in Quebec, there are three types of seeds: Ray Grass, fescue, and Kentucky bluegrass. Each comes in several cultivars (varieties).

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Ray Grass, which germinates quickly, serves primarily as a shelter plant to allow other seedlings to grow.

Fescues are more shade tolerant. In a mixture designed for shaded areas, there will therefore be more fescues.

Kentucky bluegrass will prefer sunny areas and is not at all suitable for shade. It typically makes up peat rolls (or sod).

The important thing is to have as many different varieties of each type of seed. Why? Because each type of source has its genetics. Thus, we ensure better performance by varying and combining them and, therefore, a prettier lawn. As a bonus, this biodiversity offers better resistance to lawn diseases.

It is also vital to sow the right mixture in the right place, depending on whether the soil is mostly sunny or shady.

Even if you have seed for shaded areas, the grass does not survive in intense shade. If a part of your lawn is very shaded by trees, the grass becomes sparse despite annual overseeding, and a kind of green moss establishes itself there in the place of the grass. The latter will never survive there.

What to do with a 100% shaded place?

In a more wooded environment, shaded almost at all times, it is better to opt for a ground cover that tolerates shade well. Otherwise, annual reseeding will be necessary.

Be careful not to lay sod in these places. It may be brand new when installed. After two years, it will sparse, regardless of the fertilization technique used by your contractor.

That is because sod mostly made from Kentucky bluegrass, which is not shaded tolerant – it is a plant that needs sunlight – and virtually all sod is made from these grasses.

So, in the shade, ideally, you should never put sod. However, if you do (because you may want to establish a canopy quickly so as not to leave the soil “bare”), you will need to overseed with a shade-tolerant grass mixture promptly.

When a corner of the land lacks sunlight, another option is to have neighboring trees pruned by specialists. Sometimes it is enough to remove just a few branches to allow the sun’s rays to pass through. 

How often to reseed?

Adding seeds of different genetics each year helps increase the lawn’s resistance to insects and diseases. It is never a bad idea.

However, if your lawn is already very dense, you don’t need to invest the time and money overseeding it, and your property will still do very well (with good maintenance ).

In any case, sooner or later, all terrains end up presenting bare areas (and during this time, you will strengthen your lawn with overseeding).

There are always small places where specific problems can appear:

  • Where the plow goes: it can pull up some grass.
  • Street chains, where the soil is shallower, and water evaporates quickly under the effect of the heat given off by the concrete
  • Where children stomp out of the pool, around the swing, sandbox, etc
  • Areas where de-icing salts spread, such as on the edge of driveways
  • But beware of weeding.
  • If you hand weed, you often remove large areas of weed and leave holes. The important thing is to overseed them to prevent the weeds from growing back.

Choose a seed: how to overseed a lawn?

Pick a lawn that suits your lifestyle, budget, and location. First, think about the type of lawn you want and the growing conditions. Will the yard be fully or partially exposed to the sun? Will it be excessively trampled or used by pets?

Test your soil

This step is optional. Of course, you can have your soil analyzed by specialists in your area. You can also buy a kit to do it yourself. A test will tell you which nutrients and amendments you need to add to your soil to improve it. Fortunately, with proper preparation and maintenance, you can achieve great results.

Prepare your soil

Once you have prepared the surface of your future lawn and taken the time to remove the old one, do a little inspection of the body to be seeded. Remove large stones and debris, fill in sagging areas, and if your soil is compacted, you will need to return it to the tiller. The goal is to break the ground into small particles the size of a pea or log to create an ideal seedbed for the lawn. To improve the quality of your soil, incorporate several bags.

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Level the surface

You don’t want your new lawn to be full of bumps. Using a rake, level the surface as well as possible. At this point, you may tempted to sprinkle some fresh topsoil. That is not a good idea, as it may contain some weed seeds that are difficult to remove. As you pass the rake, continue to remove stones or debris.

Sow and fertilize the same day

What to apply first: grass seed or lawn fertilizer? Up to you. But somehow use a rotary or gravity spreader. Follow the settings indicated on the packaging. It is essential to fertilize on the same day. New Grass Fertilizer to stimulate the growth of new grass clippings.

To do this, gently run the back of a rake over the seeded surface. On slopes, spread a thin layer of straw to prevent the leaching of seeds. Make sure you can barely see the seedbed under the straw. You can also spread straw over the rest of the new lawn to reduce watering.

Water relentlessly

After all this effort, there is no question of letting your grass seeds dry out. Make sure to keep the first 2.5 cm (1 inch) of the new lawn’s soil well moist. You may need to water lightly two or three times a day. Continue in this way until the young grass stems well establish. Once the new grass is long enough to mow, you can reduce watering frequency and start heavy waterings once or twice a week.


Excellent! Your new lawn thrives. Now you have to cut it. Be sure to mow only the top third of the grass clippings. Set your mower higher to keep the lawn nice and full. If you mow it too short, weeds can infiltrate.


FAQ of how to overseed a lawn?

  1. How to put the lawn?

Making a success of your lawn: the 8 mistakes to avoid

  1. Do not show at the right time.  
  2. Sow on damp ground. 
  3. Poorly preparing the ground.  
  4. Not watering enough. 
  5. Bury the seeds too deeply.
  6. Do not scrape its ground when it saturates with water.
  7. Thoroughly fertilize the lawn.  
  8. Mow your lawn too close to the ground.
  1. Which herbicide should I use before sowing grass?

A Glyphosate-based product recommends.  It is systemic, meaning that the leaves absorb it and completely penetrates the plant down to its roots.  If your land invades by tall grass, chemical weeding should be accompanied by manual weeding by pulling them up.

  1. Can you sow grass in the fall?

In the fall, choose when the temperatures are around 15 to 22 degrees, from mid-August to mid-September.  But again, be careful!  Some years, August is sweltering, even scorching.  Then wait until the weather is cooler.

  1. How to rebuild your lawn without turning Earth over?

Remember to mow the existing lawn very close to slow down the development of old grass.  If necessary, treat any moss with an anti-moss and rake vigorously to remove waste and allow better aeration of the soil.


Conclusion of how to overseed a lawn?

In conclusion, let us remember that a longer lawn is a healthier lawn: more resistant, more vigorous, better hydrated, and more ecological. Plus, it all shows in its condition. More colorful, it is also much prettier! However, it is essential to cut the grass with a sharp blade to get the best results. And to stay on the lookout for possible leaf diseases.

However, today, the climatic conditions are particular, and it is possible to adapt to them from one year to the next. For example, we often have droughts in the fall that can last until the third week of September. Under such conditions, establishment of seedlings will have to delay.

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