Overseeding for Optimal Turf Care
Overseeding is a simple approach to fill up dry places, increase turf density, introduce better grass kinds, and improve the color of a lawn. Overseeding may assist professional lawn care operators to create confidence in their consumers since it is a subtle activity that ideally provides extremely visible outcomes.
However, attaining such visible outcomes may frequently cause tension or at the very least a lot of questions. Did I think of everything? Are the conditions ideal? While nothing is certain, there are numerous practical things you may do to increase the likelihood of overseeding success.
Preparing the Turf
A seeding job is often only as successful as your planning. It’s like tidying up after yourself before vacuuming or sanding wood before staining it. If you don’t start with the appropriate circumstances, the outcomes will be difficult. While it is impossible to remove impediments like weather, shade, and foot traffic, there are actions you may do. Matt Shaffer, a world-renowned grass professional and Emeritus Director of Golf Course Operations at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, PA, has supplied a checklist.
To begin, remove any debris from the lawn by mowing and bagging your grass.
The grass should then be dethatched using a dethatcher. Set the machine to just above the soil line. The easiest technique to tell how deep you are going is to make a pass and then cut a triangle out with a pocketknife.
Rake the grass by hand.
Mow the grass again, but this time set the mowing height to 12″ lower, and bag all of the cuttings. At this time, the grass will seem rough, but do not water it.
Then you must determine whether or not to aerate. Personally, I always encourage aeration to loosen the soil and allow more water, air, seed, and fertilizer to penetrate the soil. The screwdriver test is one method for determining whether to aerate normally or aggressively. Holding a screwdriver by the handle with the head pointing down, gently throw the screwdriver down toward the ground from approximately waist height. If it readily sticks, your soil is soft enough for standard aeration. If it bounces away and does not stick, the soil is likely to be dry and compacted, necessitating more severe aeration.
Choose the Right Grass
Where do you even begin with the many types of grass seed mixtures available? Because correct seed selection is ultimately determined by your environment, it is impossible to propose a particular variety. If you’re not sure where to begin, contact a local seed dealer; they’ll be able to advise you on which types and mixtures would work best for you. Consider the following factors: climate; shadow; wear and tear; and color.
Climate. Is it best to use a cool-season or warm-season grass? With climatic extremes, drought, and water scarcity, properties in transition zones may reconsider prior decisions. According to a previous Turf article, the California turfgrass business has experienced a significant shift in recent years from cool-season grasses to warm-season grasses. This includes an increase in demand for Bermudagrasses due to their water-saving properties. A Fresno farm that used to sell 80% fescue and 20% warm-season grasses now sells 75% warm-season and 25% cool-season grasses. For the most up-to-date ideas in transition zones, consult with other landscapers, local sod growers, and Extensions.
Shade. The amount of sun your lawn receives will influence the kind of seed you utilize.
Wear-and-Tear. How much traffic do you anticipate the turf will receive? It’s a totally different scenario if it’s an elderly couple’s front yard that won’t be used much than a soccer field that has games all week.
Color. Grass kinds vary in a variety of colors of green, so consider the color while selecting the seed. While almost every seed grows well in the sun, you need do some study to discover the best shade-tolerant grass species for your location.
Cost. Although it may be tempting, spending a few dollars on substandard seed might cost you thousands of dollars in terms of your reputation—and your ability to provide overseeding services the following season. Seed is an investment for the long haul. Purchase high-quality seeds for improved germination, quality, and vitality. “When you include gasoline, labor, machine time, and components, putting seed down is the cheapest thing you can do,” Shaffer says.
Method & Equipment
When it comes time to plant seed, you have numerous options based on what you want to achieve. Shaffer provides some further advice on what equipment to use and how to utilize it:
Use a drop spreader to apply the first half of the seed.
Aerate the grass from both sides.
Put the remaining seed in an overseeder and walk over the grass in two separate directions. Preferably in the form of a diamond.
Put down a beginning fertilizer with extra phosphorus. Check to see if your state has any phosphorus limitations. (Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin are reportedly among those that do.)
Irrigation should be used to keep the seed moist but not wet. Set the irrigation system appropriately, or instruct customers to water in the early morning, when it is the coldest.
Wait until the grass has developed a third leaf before cutting it. Give the plant a little pull to ensure it is firmly established. If the mower blade is not razor sharp, it will tear and destroy the fresh seedlings. Begin reducing irrigation needs at this time. Also, keep an eye on the weather to ensure that the grass on customer properties that had overseeding does not dry out too much.
Although you can’t promise your customers a beautiful lawn after overseeding, you may tilt the scales in your favor by following these guidelines. You’re more likely to have better-looking, healthier grass, which will demonstrate your expertise as a lawn specialist.