Brown spots, bare patches and thin grass means it's time to reseed your lawn. This is a fairly simple job that requires more time and attention to detail than actual physical labor. Reseeding can increase the value of your home for an affordable price. Plus, it keeps weeds in check and adds beauty to your property. So, if you find yourself with a lawn that's looking a little lackluster, try some of these tips for a fuller, greener lawn. Remember that the best time of year to reseed your lawn is late August or early September, depending on your climate. You need to give the seeds time to start growing before winter.
Before reseeding (also called "overseeding"), pull weeds, pick up debris and dethatch. Dethatching means removing grass clippings and dead grass that have settled in your lawn. You can use rakes specially designed for dethatching. Don't use regular leaf rakes. They won't have the stiffness to pull the thatch out of the grass. Dethatching with a garden-style rake or a double-duty rake also starts to break up the soil so the seeds have soft ground. You may want to consider renting a gas-powered dethatcher. If you have large bare areas, you may also consider renting a tiller to break up the soil. For bare spots that aren't too compacted, you can loosen soil to a 1-inch depth. If the soil is very compacted, you may need to loosen it as much as 6 inches. Break up clumps into pea or marble-sized chunks. Rake level any areas that have been broken up extensively.
After dethatching and breaking up the soil, spread an appropriate fertilizer for your lawn. Check with your local lawn and garden center for the type you need.
Sowing the Seeds
You're ready to put down your seed. Make sure you select a variety that matches your lawn for consistent color, texture and growth. You can reseed bare spots by hand. About 6 seeds per square inch will survive so don't overdo the seeding. For a more even coverage, try using a hand-held seed spreader, or use a regular drop or broadcast spreader. If you use the same spreader that you use for herbicides and fertilizer, be sure to give it a thorough washing.
Once your seeds are spread, water the entire area with a fine mist. Avoid overwatering or powerful spray settings. You don't want to wash your new seeds away.
If you're reseeding just a few bare spots, consider covering the areas with sheets of polyethylene plastic. This will help keep the moisture in the soil and reduce or eliminate the need for watering, depending on the amount of rain and humidity your area gets. Remove the plastic sheeting as soon as the seedlings begin sprouting.
Water areas not covered by plastic twice a day. Again, be careful not to wash seeds away. Grass will start to grow after about two weeks. Continue to water the new grass twice a day until it is about 1 inch tall. Water once a week until it's about 3 inches tall. You can mow the reseeded areas once the grass is fully established and thick enough to walk on.