Homeowners assume, incorrectly, that fertilizer is all that is
needed to keep a turf thick and free of weeds. Grass gets tired. It
needs to be revitalized every few years. After five or six years,
grass plants will slow down their reproduction rates; they get tired
just like we do as we age. Thin grass invites weeds. Overseeding
compensates for that natural slow down of the turf's reproduction.
There are two major benefits to overseeding every three or four
years. First, you insure your lawn stays thick and dense, or if it
has thinned, you will make it thick again. Thick grass has few if
any weeds if it is mowed over 2 inches tall. Also, overseeding pays
off by reducing the amount of fertilizer, water and pesticides
The second benefit is disease resistance. The new varieties of
seed you sow this year will have better disease resistance than
those varieties already in your lawn.
- How do I know that my lawn needs to be overseeded?
Go outside and check your own turf to see if by spreading the
grass blades you can see any soil. It is likely the soil will be
readily visible. That means your lawn needs to be overseeded.
- When is the best time to overseed? Early
September is the best time to overseed.
- What kind of seed should I use? Since a root
system is already established, quick-cover grass like annual rye
grass should not be used. It is worth spending the extra money
for professional perennial turf mix containing Kentucky
bluegrass and creeping red fescue.
- Equipment needed:
Aeration is an important part of a lawn care program. A healthy
root system is a must for an attractive lawn. Oxygen in the soil is
vital for healthy roots, but root growth is inhibited by clay and
compacted soils. Aerating promotes rooting and improves problem
soils by allowing air into the soil. An aerator does this job
mechanically without destroying the turf. A stronger, deeper root
base makes the lawn more heat and drought tolerant, improves
fertilizer uptake and use and reduced water runoff and puddling.
- Core aeration or spike aeration? The simplest and
cheapest way to aerify a small lawn is with a spading fork or
spike aerating machine. One limitation of using a spading fork
or spike aerator is that, as you are make a hole, you are also
forcing soil particles around the hole closer together, causing
more compaction. This method is also rather labor-intensive for
treating large areas.
A core aerator does a better job. Unlike the spike aerator,
the core aerator removes cores of soil from the lawn instead of
pushing the soil aside to create holes. The earthen plugs that
are deposited on the lawn after each successive plunge actually
benefit the lawn. They contain microorganisms that help to
decompose any layers of thatch present.
- When is the best time to aerate? You can aerate any
time the grass is actively growing. In most cases, spring
aeration is performed between March and May. Fall aeration is
done in late summer and early fall, usually between August and
November. Aeration before or at the time of late season
fertilization enhances root growth responses and improves spring
greenup and growth.
- Equipment needed:
- Walk behind gas powered core aerators:
- Tow behind aerators:
Thatch is the tightly interwoven layer of living and dead stems,
leaves, and roots between the green grass and the soil surface. A
layer of thatch less than a half inch in thickness can be beneficial
to the grass, as it is similar to mulch and provides many of the
same benefits. Too much thatch provides a habitat for insects and
disease and makes the grass less tolerant of heat and drought. Dry
thatch also absorbs water like a sponge, preventing it from
penetrating into your lawn.
- When is the best time to dethatch? Timing is
critical; dethatching should be done during low-stress periods.
Kentucky bluegrass and other cool-season grass lawns should be
dethatched in early fall or early spring. Dethatching machines
use a series of free-spinning flail blades to efficiently remove
matted thatch with centrifugal force, then deposits the thatch
debris on top of the lawn where it can be raked up, disposed of
- Equipment needed: