Steps To Overseed Lawn

What is overseeding

It’s sowing grass seed over already established turf, something that can be done in spring or fall. The main advantage is that you are tacking down the newly seeded areas at a time when your established lawn’s grasses have stopped growing. This gives the germinated seeds time to establish their roots before winter comes.

If you overseed in fall, your newly seeded lawn will be green through winter and into spring before the established grasses are growing again. And if they are evergreen turf types, this will extend the period of color well into summer. If you sow in spring, your overseeded lawn may have most of its green-up in early summer. This is because the turf types in established lawns (such as tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass) grow most rapidly when temperatures are warm and day-length is long, conditions that occur in spring and summer.

Steps to overseed lawn

Follow these steps to overseed lawn properly:

  1. Water thoroughly, then wait until grass is dry before mowing. If you do not wish to harm existing grass, simply stop mowing until the overseeding process is complete.
  2. Remove any debris (dried leaves, pine needles, etc.) using a blower or rake. Then spread seed liberally across entire area with either a push or tow behind broadcast seeder or by hand broadcasting. Use of gloves and eye protection are highly recommended when handling bagged seeds/mixes containing potentially harmful weed seeds such as Poa annua (annual bluegrass), which will germinate and grow quickly in spring.
  3. Lightly overseed lawn with a roto-tiller to ensure good seed-to-soil contact. Avoid overworking soil because this can cause problems such as compaction and crusting, which will reduce germination rates and inhibit growth of new grass plants. Do not perform rototilling when soil is wet, as this causes more compaction and makes it difficult for the seeds to penetrate moist soil ,
  4. You may notice that some areas need additional seed if you used a broadcast seeder. This is fine; simply add additional seed (if any). Then lightly rototill all added seed into existing soil .
  5. Keep newly seeded area moist by light watering (no more than ¼ inch) for 10 – 14 days to allow seedlings to grow and become established. Outdoor irrigation, including automatic sprinklers and soaker hoses, can be particularly beneficial during spring and fall because these seasons tend to deliver low humidities.
  6. Give newly seeded areas an additional ½-inch of water per week (if weather conditions allow) until grass is fully established in early summer .
  7. After seeds germinate and new grass becomes visible above ground level, mow area at slightly lower cutting heights than normal until your lawn thickens up enough that you can return to regular maintenance schedules.

When to start overseeding lawn

Overseeding is a way to increase the density of grass in an existing turf. This may be achieved by either overseeding or sodding with new grass seed.

While overseeding can be done at any time, it is usually recommended that you wait until late summer or early fall of the year before you plant your new grass seed. This timing will give your seed enough time to get established before winter, giving you healthy turf the following spring.

You should not plan on overseeding more than 25% of your current lawn each year.

It’s important to note that while seeding your new grass in the fall will help ensure its health through winter, this practice does not offer any protection against freezing weather or snow damage after it has been established.

In all cases it is best to have the lawn well watered before starting this process, as dry soil makes it more difficult for the seeds to germinate and grow.

It will take several weeks (or sometimes months) for the new grass plants to become visible above the old plant material. Be patient – if done correctly, you should soon see a noticeable improvement in your lawn’s density and appearance within two or three years. Over-seeding requires less frequent fertilization than overseeding because there will be fewer weeds with the turfgrasses .

Steps To Overseed Lawn

Overseeding is most beneficial when done to lawns that are not subject to heavy wear, such as on golf courses or on athletic fields. Overseeded turf will require the same maintenance schedule as freshly sodded grass.

One of the biggest mistakes homeowners make with their grass is overseeding too early in the fall. Overseeded grass does not grow until spring so it must remain covered by dead plant material until then. This dead material provides protection against harsh winter conditions and insures that new grass seedlings survive into the following season.

When overseeding in late summer, be sure to keep mowing while you’re applying seed because this helps keep dormant seeds warm enough to germinate before sets in, which might cause grass to grow into the fall.

Consequences of overseeding too early:

  • If not mowed, seedlings will die because they won’t get enough sunlight and warmth in September/October.
  • If mowed, bare patches will be exposed and susceptible to winter injury. Your lawn might even develop bare spots or thin areas this spring due to repeated damage from mower blades.
  • A late start on spring growth means you’ll need more frequent fertilizing until new grass is thick enough to withstand foot traffic, which can lead to higher nitrogen costs for homeowners over time.

An exception would be if your lawn has a serious weed problem or if your primary goal is simply to spread seed around so you can spot-seed problem areas (e.g., bare spots).

Things to consider when overseeding lawn

Seed Type

The choice of seed type you make will depend on the available space and your personal preferences. To achieve a thick, dense turf it is important to use turf-type tall fescue (ideally sprinkler-tolerant), and seed in sufficient quantity. Grass seed that is sold as “turf type” almost always contains some Kentucky bluegrass mixed in; this can work well when overseeding into lawns where Kentucky bluegrass is already present, but it does not provide the best results on its own.

In some cases seed mixture of tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass may be used to overseed poorly maintained lawns with tall fescue as a component in a turf-type mixture that looks better than pure tall fescue. This type of seed mixture is also more likely to have a few weeds present.

Seeding Rate

A common overseeding rate is 1 lb per 1000 sq ft for a complete lawn renovation, and 0.5 lbs of tall fescue grass seed per 1000 sq ft for overseeding into existing tall fescue turf.

Site Preparation

Prior to overseeding lawn, all old grass should be killed with glyphosate-based herbicide.

Overseed in late September/ early October for best results. If seeds are sown too early or late, germination may be poor or non-existent due to the impending cold weather. For autumn seeding into warm season turf, the temperature should be above 70F when seeds germinate and when seedlings emerge from the ground.

Prepare a smooth work area around the grass to be overseeded by removing any rocks, sticks or debris. If you are overseeding in late summer make sure your irrigation system is on and working properly. Sprinkler heads should be set to water the area at least two times per day for 30 minutes each time. You can also use a hose and nozzle to water your lawn if you don’t have an irrigation system available.

When overseeding in early spring, make sure that your irrigation system is on and working properly. Sprinkler heads should be set to water the area at least two times per day for 30 minutes each time. You can also use a hose and nozzle to water your lawn if you don’t have an irrigation system available.

The germination process of seeds will be inhibited by direct sun light so make sure that there is adequate shading in the early morning or late afternoon as those are the sun’s peak hours.

Space the seeds evenly throughout the grass to be overseeded. Rake your soil or lawn with a seed spreader to ensure proper distribution, then water thoroughly right away. This will wash the seeds into the soil where they can germinate and grow roots down into the ground. If you plan on using a seed spreader, keep in mind that you will need to purchase a seeding strip or drag mat for proper seed distribution. You can also use a push spreader if one is available to you.

Do and Don’t when overseeding your lawn

Before getting out the rakes and shovels, take some time to read about what you should and shouldn’t do when overseeding your lawn.


  • Do not over water your lawn with sprinklers or a hose. Thorough, but infrequent watering is best for seeds germination. If the soil stays wet, it will prevent the grass seeds from absorbing enough oxygen to stay alive. Seeds should be watered evenly and moderately throughout the day so that water penetrates the soil to a depth of 1½ inches, allowing the seeds enough time to absorb water and germinate. During germination, seedlings need consistent moisture.
  • Do not allow your new lawn to dry out or remain soggy for long periods of time. The first two weeks after seeding is critical for seed germination. Seeds will not germinate if the soil remains wet during this time, so make sure that you are keeping your new lawn moist at all times.
  • Do not mow your young seedlings until they have grown to a height of 2 inches. At this point, seedlings should be able to tolerate a light mowing. Seedlings will begin to turn a dark bluish green color in the process of elongating their cells, and height is beginning to increase at this point.
  • Do not walk on your seeding for two weeks after sowing, or until seedlings have become well established. Doing so could damage newly germinated roots and shoots. Your best bet is to put up a temporary barrier between you and your new lawn until it has had a chance to establish its own turf area, preventing wear-and-tear from occurring before the grass begins growing vigorously.
  • Do not water with sprinklers or a hose unless necessary during dormancy periods, as this will promote growth of a soft, spongy lawn. Lawns that have gone into a dormant period should not need watering, however if it is necessary to water, stick with light irrigation or rainfall.
  • Do not fertilize your seeding for the first year after planting. This will be adequate time for the roots of your new seedlings to establish themselves and get established before they are subjected to high levels of fertilizer. In its first year of growth, your lawn needs only enough nutrients from an organic source such as compost or manure to help get rid of any grass toxins from lawn-care chemicals from last season.
  • Don’t plant a creeping red fescue variety of grass in shaded areas, and avoid planting in hot summer months. Choose an alternative variety of grass such as a fine leaf fescue, which will do better in shaded areas with little to no sun exposure. Fine leaves fescues are more likely to survive when the weather is extremely hot and dry.
  • Don’t plant your new lawn or seeding before all danger of frost has passed. However, if you don’t mind the possibility of having some dead spots in your lawn this fall, you can plant now and cover any dead patches with cool-season grass seed for next year’s spring and most of the growing season. If not covered properly, however, they could be torn up by animals after they sprout through ground cover.
  • Don’t over-seed your lawn. You don’t want to leave existing dead grass or thatch on your lawn when overseeding because it will form a thick mat that new seedlings can have difficulty growing through, especially if the existing grass is perennial rye, which is one of the most difficult types of grass seed to germinate through. Pulling up the old grass will allow for thinner coverage during seeding, creating better soil contact with the new seeds and preventing overcrowding among young plants.


  • Do rake or drag your seed into the soil immediately after seeding with a seed spreader, roller or by hand. Rake the seeds into the soil with a fine-tined rake, ensuring that they are below the surface of the soil.
  • Do water your new lawn as soon as you have finished seeding to ensure that the seeds have enough time to germinate and absorb water before going into a dormant period. Water thoroughly for 10 minutes.
  • Do not mow your new seeding for 5 to 7 days after sowing. This gives the seeds the time they need to germinate and set into their roots. The first cutting should be at 2-3 inches in length with a sharp blade to avoid tearing the grass blades, clipping off the ends of the grass and to prevent scalping.
  • Do roll your new seeding or walking on it lightly with a roller or by foot to ensure good contact between the seeds and the soil. Rolling the seeded area will flatten out any holes in the lawn so that you won’t have clumps of grass coming through where there is a gap. It will also help to ensure good seed distribution and contact with the soil.
  • Do water daily if your new lawn has gone into a dormant period, even though it may not need it. The following spring, you can continue watering once or twice each day for at least 10 minutes per session. It is important to prevent the seedlings from drying out as they begin to grow and develop their root systems. You can stop watering when the seedlings have grown to a height of 2 inches.

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