What Is Overseeding?

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Seeding a lawn is an important part of keeping it looking healthy and lush. There are many different ways to seed a lawn, but one of the most common (and most important) is overseeding. So, what is overseeding? And how is it done? Keep reading to find out!

Be sure to check out our other blog posts for more specific information on when and why you should overseed your lawn.

Basics Of Overseeding

Overseeding is the process of planting grass seed over an existing lawn. This is usually done in fall, when the weather is cooler and the days are shorter. The goal of overseeding is to fill in any bare spots or thin areas, as well as to improve the overall health of the lawn. To accomplish this, the process of overseeding primarily focuses on dropping seed directly over the areas of your lawn that are struggling most. This process differs from new lawn seeding, which is the seeding of an entirely new lawn from scratch.

One of the benefits of overseeding instead of seeding a new lawn from scratch is the convenience. Incorporating grass seed over an existing lawn is as easy as it sounds. Some people prefer to use a spreader, but you can overseed by simply dropping down seed over struggling turf straight from your hand.

Overseeding vs. New Lawn Seeding

How To Prepare Soil

Overseeding differs from new lawn seeding in a few key ways. When you overseed an existing lawn, you don’t have to prepare the land in the same way as you would for new seeding. New lawn seeding often involves sloping the land with some minor excavation in order to get the lawn leveled before seeding can begin. Overseeding bypasses all of this work because the lawn has already been established.

When you overseed an existing lawn, there is already a network of roots in place. This means that your new grass will have an easier time taking root and establish itself. As a result, overseeding is often successful the first time around, while new lawn seeding can sometimes fail.

Another important factor in overseeding is that you can choose which type of grass seed to plant. This is important because different types of grasses have different ideal conditions. For example, some types of grasses do better in shady areas, while others need full sun. Incorporating more resistant grass types directly to struggling areas of your lawn is what makes overseeding so important.

The Right Grass Type

Different types of grasses have different ideal growing conditions, so it’s important to select a type that will do well in the areas you are overseeding. However, you must also keep in mind the type of grass that already exists in your lawn, as some grass types will not integrate well with others.

man holding his hand over a well kept lawn (1)

For example, cool-season grass types are often blended with warm-season grasses, especially Bermudagrass. Cool and warm grasses should not be mixed because they thrive in opposite climate zones. If you live in an area that sees heavy rainfall and humid weather, you will want to select a grass type that is resistant to fungus. On the other hand, if you live in an area with prolonged drought conditions, you will want a grass type that is tolerant of dry spells.

What does Bluegrass look like

In the Kansas City area, fescue grass types are very common. Fescue grasses are known for their ability to thrive in shady areas and their resistance to heat and drought. However, if your lawn is already made up of a different type of grass, such as bluegrass or rye, then overseeding with fescue may not be the best option because fescue has a very dense root system that can crowd out other types of grasses.

In general, the most resistant and best grass types with which to overseed are as follows:

  • Tall fescue
  • Perennial ryegrass
  • Kentucky bluegrass
  • Fine fescue
  • Bentgrass
  • Zoysiagrass

How To Overseed

Now that we have covered the basics of overseeding, let's talk about how to actually get the job done! While you do not need to do nearly the same amount of preparatory work that is involved with new lawn seeding, there are still some measures that need to be taken in order to achieve overseeding success.

1) Prepare The Land

Core Aeration

The first step is to mow your lawn as short as possible without damaging the existing turf. This will ensure that there is enough room for the new seed to take root and establish itself. Be sure to collect any clippings so that they do not lay on top of the new seed and prevent it from germinating. If possible, aerate your lawn before overseeding takes place. The holes created during the aeration process create the perfect environment for seeds to fall into and take root.

2) Test & Amend Soil

Testing Your Soil

Once the land has been prepared, it is time to test the soil quality. You can do this yourself with a home testing kit or by hiring a professional lawn care company to do it for you. Amending the soil as needed will ensure that your new seed has the nutrients it needs to thrive.

  • pH level: The ideal pH level for most grasses is between six and seven. A bit of lime juice can be added to soil with a low pH.
  • Macronutrients: These include nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. All three of these nutrients are important for grass growth, but they should be applied in different ratios depending on the age of your lawn.
  • Micronutrients: These include iron, manganese, zinc, and copper. While all of these nutrients are important, they are typically only needed in small quantities and can be found in most commercial fertilizer blends.

Remember not to add fertilizer to your lawn until the seed has enough time to establish itself, roughly 6 to 8 weeks after overseeding.

3) Select The Seed


Once you have prepared the land and tested the soil, it is time to select the seed. As we discussed earlier, be sure to select a grass type that will do well in your specific climate conditions.

  • Tall fescue: This is a common choice for overseeding because it is resistant to heat, drought, and disease. It also has a deep root system that helps it to withstand heavy traffic.
  • Perennial ryegrass: This type of grass germinates quickly and establishes itself quickly. It is often used for temporary lawns or in areas that see a lot of foot traffic.
  • Kentucky bluegrass: This grass type has a very dense root system and grows best in full sun. It is a good choice for areas that see a lot of foot traffic.
  • Fine fescue: This grass type is very tolerant of shady conditions and has a deep root system. It is a good choice for overseeding shady areas.
  • Bentgrass: This grass type grows best in full sun and has a very dense root system. It is often used on golf course greens because it can withstand heavy traffic.
  • Zoysiagrass: This grass type is very tolerant of heat and drought and has a deep root system. It is often used in warm, dry climates.

4) Apply Seed

The Importance Of Seeding Your Lawn

Overseeding is a simple process once the preparation is complete. You will want to use a spreader to apply the seed evenly over the entire lawn. Be sure to read the seed package directions carefully so that you do not apply too much or too little seed.

Overseeding can be done by hand, but it is more difficult to achieve an even distribution of seed this way. If you choose to overseed by hand, you will need to sow the seed at a rate of approximately 4 pounds per 1,000 square feet.

Once the seed has been applied, it is important to rake it into the soil so that it makes good contact with the soil. This will help to ensure that the seed germinates and establishes itself quickly.

5) Aftercare

sprinkler maintenance service

The most important part of overseeding is the aftercare. Be sure to keep the seed moist (but not soaked!) at all times by watering it regularly. It is best to water the seed twice a day, in the morning and evening, for the first two weeks. After that, you can reduce the frequency of watering to once a day, but make sure to water in the morning to avoid fungal infection.

Be sure to avoid walking on the lawn as much as possible while the seed is germinating and establishing itself. This will help to prevent damage to the new grass. Mowing can resume 8 to 10 weeks after overseeding. Be sure to mow at a higher setting than usual so that you do not damage the new grass. Once the grass has reached its full height, you can return to your normal mowing schedule.

Start Seeding!

That's it! By following these simple steps, you can achieve a beautiful, lush lawn that will be the envy of your neighbors. Of course, if you are still not feeling completely confident about overseeding your lawn by yourself, the experts at Heartland Turf & Landscape would love to help!

Heartland has been seeding lawns in Kansas City for years, so you can trust that we know how to give you grass that is vibrant and lush. Check out our seeding services, and be sure to call us at (913) 238-9278 for a free overseeding quote today!