If your lawn has brown spots, has bare spots or is thinning, it might be time to reseed it to achieve a lusher, healthier lawn. Reseeding does take some preparation and planning, but can it improve your home's curb appeal, its value and even your relationships with your neighbors. To reseed your lawn, you should do it at the proper time, prepare your lawn for reseeding, choose the best grass seed for your area and use the appropriate process for reseeding.
You can reseed a lawn at almost any time of the year, if necessary. The grass needs adequate time to get established before winter, however. Ideally, reseeding should be done several weeks before the first frost but after the scorching heat of summer.
Preparing Your Lawn
Before you reseed the lawn, you must first remove all of the debris and dead grass from the area. Remove all of the weeds as well, by manually pulling them or using weed killer. If you use weed killer, be sure to follow the manufacturer's directions, which should specify how long it will take to be effective before you can reseed.
Next, loosen the soil with a hard rake. For extremely compacted soil, you might need to rent a machine to aerate the soil, which removes small plugs of dirt and turf. This allows water and nutrients to better penetrate the soil and nourish the roots of your lawn.
If there is excessive thatch, which is dead grass and roots, you might need to rent a power rake or a de-thatcher to remove the dead material. If this task is too daunting or physical for you, most lawn care companies offer aeration and de-thatching services. Lawn experts recommend performing this maintenance on your lawn every few years to ensure a healthy foundation for your lawn.
If your soil is in extremely poor condition, you might need to add some compost or new soil to prepare it for new grass seed. This will also depend on the type of soil that you have and where you live. You can consult your local nursery or garden center for advice about the type of soil that you have. In some cases, you might need to completely renovate your lawn, which would entail killing the existing lawn, tilling the soil, flattening the area and reseeding the lawn from scratch.
You should use a grass seed that is similar to the grass that is already in your lawn and is appropriate for the climate in your area. Using seed that matches the existing grass will prevent unsightly spots where one area might be greener or have smaller blades than another. Scattering the seed by hand is sufficient, but if you are reseeding an entire lawn, it is better to use a mechanical spreader to ensure even coverage. The grass seed packaging should include instructions for the amount of seed to use for the dimensions of your lawn.
Rake the seed into the soil so that it makes good contact with the soil. If the seed is lying on top of the existing grass, it might not sprout and could become the next meal for birds that are nearby. If birds are likely to be a problem, you can cover the seeded area with weed-free straw or hay or a little bit of mulch. Some garden care centers recommend applying a starter fertilizer to the lawn after reseeding.
Once the lawn has been reseeded, it is important to keep the soil moist by watering it twice a day. The grass will germinate in about two weeks. When the grass starts to grow, mow it. The ideal length for grass is 2 to 2.5 inches (about 5.1 to 6.4 cm), rather than having closely cropped grass. This encourages deeper rooting, which is especially important with new lawns.
While your recently reseeded lawn is getting established, make sure that it doesn't receive heavy traffic — try to keep pets and kids off it until it is strong and healthy. Be sure to maintain your newly refurbished lawn by mowing regularly, by applying weed and feed and by keeping it watered during droughts or hot weather.