After years of enjoying a plush, green lawn, you might notice that the grass is starting to look worn, weak and thin, which can affect the aesthetic value of your home. If you're a mom who doesn't back down from a challenge, overseeding might combat the decline of your lawn. This process, during which you sow seed on an existing lawn, has a rejuvenating effect and can increase grass density while crowding out weeds. It allows you to grow improved grass cultivars and is less labor intensive than replacing the turf.
Begin the overseeding process either in early fall or early spring. Cool-season grasses are best sown in early fall, and warm-season grasses are best sown in early spring. Take into consideration that most grasses grow best during temperatures between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Cool nights can prevent diseases, and warmth during the day encourages seed germination.
Water the grass as normal about two days before you plan on overseeding your lawn. By the time you work the soil, you want it to be slightly most -- not soggy -- so you can easily loosen it.
Mow the lawn to a height of about 1 1/2 inches and remove any weeds you come across. Rake up the lawn clippings or use a lawn mower with a bag attachment.
Scratch the soil surface about 1/2-inch deep with a rake, walking back and forth over the length of the lawn. Then, scratch the soil surface again by walking perpendicular to your initial direction. Scratching the soil loosens the top surface and ensures proper seed-to-soil contact. If you have a large yard, use a core aerator to loosen and make holes in the soil. First, walk horizontally over the soil with the aerator and then cross the soil vertically; lastly, cross it diagonally. Aim for at least 20 to 40 holes per square foot.
Fill a broadcast or drop spreader with grass seed, maintaining a rate of 3 to 5 pounds of seed per 1,000 square feet. Walk over the length of the yard with the spreader to sow half of the amount of seed and then walk perpendicular to your initial direction and sow the remainder of the seed. Avoid sowing seeds manually, because this might result in uneven coverage.
Rake the soil surface lightly to work the seeds into the soil and to ensure proper seed-to-soil contact. You want the seeds to be planted no more than a 1/2 inch deep.
Water the soil immediately after sowing the seeds and continue watering regularly to maintain an even soil moisture level until the seeds establish. Ideally, water in the morning so the grass has time to dry before nightfall. Watering amounts can differ depending on the soil absorbency. To gauge whether you're watering enough, check that the top 1/2 inch of soil is moist at all times until the seedlings are 1 1/2 inches tall. Adjust your watering frequency after rainfall or during hot, dry spells.
Spread a 1/2-inch layer of mulch, such as straw or sawdust over the soil to promote soil-moisture retention.