Aerating and overseeding your lawn are crucial tasks for any homeowner. But what many gardeners don't appreciate is when the best time to aerate and overseed a lawn is. Some of you may even be unfamiliar with the concept of overseeding and why it's so vital to your garden's success.
Even if you are aware of the need to aerate your lawn, you might be weighing up the pros and cons of using a lawn aeration service. In this article, we'll explore all of the above and more to educate you on what you need to be doing when it comes to aeration and overseeding this year.
Let's start by covering what aeration and overseeding are for those who need a little reminder.
What is Lawn Aeration?
Lawn aeration is something we've covered in great detail in our liquid aeration versus mechanical aeration guide. However, to recap, aeration is a necessary task that helps to keep your healthy lawn, thick, and luscious green.
It's the process of allowing more air, water, and nutrients to penetrate deep into the soil surface beneath your grass. By aerating your lawn, you can eliminate the issues that plague healthy backyards such as soil compaction and troublesome thatch that forms a barrier to moisture, nutrient contribution, and air circulation, effectively suffocating your grass.
With aeration covered, let's take a look at overseeding.
What is Overseeding?
Overseeding is very beneficial for both the appearance and the health of your lawn. Not to be confused with seeding, overseeding is the simple process of adding seeds to the lawn to improve its quality and appearance. The critical difference between seeding and overseeding is that a gardener undertaking seeding will sprinkle grass seeds on prepared soil to grow it from scratch. By contrast, overseeding is adding grass seed to existing lawns (with grass already in place).
This process improves the look of a garden that has developed brown or bare areas while also thickening the grass to increase its overall density. But what are the other benefits of overseeding?
What are the Benefits of Overseeding?
Many gardeners ignore overseeding because they don't understand the major benefits of the procedure. That's why it's essential to state the reasons for the importance of this preventative action, so you can understand why it's so advantageous for your garden.
As time passes, the condition and the quality of your grass will deteriorate. Symptoms such as dry or barren patchy areas, the increasing prevalence of weeds, or your lawn generally looking wilted and weak are all too common for gardeners who do not undertake any maintenance outside of mowing.
When the grass finally falls into this state of disrepair, many gardeners react by spraying fertilizer, increasing watering frequency, and taking manual action to pull out those irritating weeds. But the truth of the matter is that this hassle can be avoided by merely overseeding the lawn.
By adding new seeds to the existing grass, they blend in with the older, more established seeds, improving density and grass quality. This thickened grass not only looks easier on the eye – thanks to the removal of brown or bare patches – but it also helps to crowd out weeds. Lastly, the improved blend of new and old grass makes your lawn more tolerant of shade and drought problems.
But as with many elements of tending to your garden, timing is everything. So when is the best time to aerate and overseed a lawn?
When is the Best Time to Aerate and Overseed Your Lawn?
There are a few aspects to consider when it comes to the best time to aerate and overseed your lawn, namely you need to consider the type of grass you have and your local weather climate. Warm-season grasses and cool-season grasses have different preferences when it comes to the growing season, and your soil temperatures will determine the success of your overseeding efforts.
For cool-season grasses, which are generally more prevalent in states with colder winter temperatures, such as in the Midwest, Pacific Northwest, and North East, then the best time to aerate and overseed your lawn is in August and September.
This is because weeds have started to die back during this time, and the soil temperature is ideal for seed germination. If you leave it too long into the fall, the soil temperatures will drop too far for the seeds to germinate properly. By contrast, if you overseed too early, weeds may suffocate the new seeds, and the summer soil temperatures are slightly too warm for ideal growth.
For reference, cool-season grasses like temperatures of between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. You can use this handy soil-temperature checking tool to see what temperatures your soils are at during specific times of the year in your location. You want to count back roughly six weeks from the date the soil temperature drops below 50 for the first time to find your perfect overseeding date.
The schedule for warm-season grasses is slightly different. These are predominately found in the states with warmer climates such as those across the Sun Belt (e.g., Texas, Florida, Georgia) and across the Southwest (e.g., Arizona, California). Warm-season grasses have higher germination temperatures, typically between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. As a rough guide that equates to roughly outdoor temperatures of 80 degrees.
With that in mind, your ideal aeration and overseeding date are going to be earlier in the year for warmer season grasses. In the case of the majority of the Sun Belt states, the best time to aerate and overseed a lawn will fall in April, May, or June, after which the soil will become too warm for the new seed to germinate properly.
Given the dry heat of the Southwestern states where it can easily reach over 80 degrees outside for the majority of the spring months, late winter/early spring is the best time to carry out this process. Each location will vary slightly, so make sure you check your soil temperatures and overseed six weeks ahead of when the soil temperature is likely to breach 70 degrees.
Top Tips for Maximizing Lawn Overseeding
While the process of overseeding your lawn is pretty simple, there are tasks you should carry out both before and after you overseed to maximize its impact. So let's take a brief look at what you need to do to ensure overseeding has the desired effect.
Select the Right Grass Seed
It may seem obvious, but you'd be surprised by how many times that gardeners make mistakes with their choice of grass seed. The first mistake to avoid is to choose a grass seed that is unlikely to grow in your climate, for instance, warm-season grass seed in a cool environment.
Many simply choose to relay the same seed used for the original grass, which is fine. However, if you want to go for a plusher and thicker look, the best strategy is to buy a different type of similar grass seed. By doing so, you increase the biodiversity of your lawn (helping to build resistance to weeds) and benefit from the different grass type competing with each other for sunlight, encouraging denser growth.
Mow Before You Overseed
New seeds face the challenge of competing with weeds and your existing grass, which have established root systems. For that reason, you need to make sure that you run the mower over your lawn down to about an inch of growth, remembering to remove all clippings. By doing so, you can ensure that the seed has a chance to make contact with the soil, and therefore germinate.
Spread Seeds Evenly
You should always make an effort to keep your distribution of seeds as even as possible to avoid creating clumps of fast-growing grass. You should pay extra attention to bald or brown patches of your lawn that clearly would benefit from scattering new seed. If you have extensive bald or bare patches, then it's best to use similar species of grass seed so that they work together rather than compete against each other.
Water and Fertilize After Overseeding
Even if you manage to overseed at precisely the right soil temperature, new seeds still need help to get the best germination. Once you have scattered your seeds, you need to water the areas (or the entire lawn) generously at least three to four times in the following seven days.
Once the seeds have begun to germinate and show their first sign of growth, it's then a good idea to apply fertilizer to further their progress. Finally, once your lawn or specific overseeded areas hit around two and a half inches of growth, mow the entire lawn to promote further growth.
Lawn Aeration is Vital
The most important step you can take before overseeding your lawn is aerating your soil. No matter what seed you use, they can't germinate in compacted soil devoid of water, nutrients, and sufficient air exchange. That's why it's crucial to aerate your lawn before starting the overseeding process. By doing so, you ensure they can nestle in the soil nicely, and benefit from the soil conditions that healthy growth necessitates.
Aeration is something that many homeowners call in the professionals for, to make use of their mechanical aeration machines. But thanks to advances in liquid aeration, there's no need to manually aerate anymore, and therefore there's no necessity to enlist the help of a professional lawn aeration service.
With that in mind, let's take a look at the pros and cons of highly a lawn aeration service before overseeding your lawn.
Pros and Cons of Using a Lawn Aeration Service
There are a few pros to calling in professional lawn aeration services, one of which is that you don't have to lift a finger as they do all of the work for you. If you are an extremely busy individual who can't even spare 30 minutes, then this may be an option that suits you.
Another benefit is that when you mechanically aerate grass, it literally pulls up plugs of soil. What this means in terms of your overseeding is that some of the seeds could potentially nestle in those holes left behind by the machine, helping to the seed to develop deep root growth quickly. However, that's where the advantages end.
The most apparent issue with hiring a mechanical aeration contractor is cost. Depending on the size of the area to be aerated, you could be looking at hundreds or potentially thousands of dollars for the service. Next, you'll face a lawn with thousands of unsightly soil plugs scattered behind the mechanical aerator. While they will disappear, it can take well in excess of a week for that to happen.
It also takes a great deal of time. No matter how good a machine is, an operator will have to make several passes at each strip of grass to make sure there are enough holes to have the desired effect on the soil. Not only does this increase the number of those soil plugs mentioned above, but it also takes several hours to cover larger lawn areas adequately.
On the other hand, products such as liquid lawn aerators completely take the hassle out of the process. All you have to spray the solution across your lawn and the formula will get to work immediately.
Secondly, it can penetrate deeper into the soil than manual core aeration because it's a liquid solution that harnessing the power of gravity. Mechanical aerators only tend to remove a couple of inches off the soil. By contrast, liquid aeration reaches even the deepest of grass roots to improve the exchange or air, water, and nutrients.
Next, there's the cost. There's no better value method for aerating your lawn than liquid aeration. With just one quart of a liquid aerator, you can cover up to 30,000 square feet for less than $40! Another advantage of using a liquid aerator is time. All you need to do is use a hose-end sprayer, and within 30 minutes, you will have comfortably covered that 30,000 square feet mentioned above.
Lastly, the hobby of gardening is, by default, mostly about you spending time in your garden. By hiring a lawn aeration service, you're defeating the purpose of tending to your garden in the first place. With liquid aeration, you can stay active and gain satisfaction from the progress you've made as a result of your efforts.
Save Time, Money, and Achieve Better Better Results with Eco Garden PRO Lawn Aerator
Here at Eco Garden Solution, we've worked hard to create the perfect companion to your overseeding process. Without aeration, your new seeds will struggle to germinate. But that doesn't mean that you have to pay for an unsightly lawn aeration service. Instead, you can just spray our liquid lawn aerator, sit back, and relax as it gets to work for you!
Developed using organic and natural ingredients, our proprietary formula immediately springs into action upon application, conditioning the soil to become much more permeable to air, water, nutrients, and fertilizer. A perfect combination to ensure your new grass seeds perform as expected.
We're so confident that you'll love our liquid aerator that we are offering a 100% money-back guarantee if you are unsatisfied! So what are you waiting for? Maximize your overseeding with our industry-leading liquid lawn aerator.