Overseeding Cool Season Turf
Over a period of time there is a need to overseed existing fescue lawns to keep them thick and lush. Unlike other grasses, fescue does not spread by rhizomes or the root system and must be overseeded to keep it from becoming thin and clumpy. The need to overseed can be brought on by several factors, weed infestations, summer diseases like brown patch and dollar spot, insect damage and drought are the most common causes for turf areas to thin and require overseeding.
For the best results when overseeding, the first step is to mow the area to an approximate height of two inches. Once that is completed, it is best to “break the soil surface” which is accomplished through mechanical means with either a verticut or aerating machine. Simply spreading the seed over an area without first preparing the area will lead to reduced germination and limited success of the overseeding. By breaking the soil first, this allows for good seed to soil contact, thus increasing the germination success. The preferred method when performing an overseeding would be to verticut. Verticutting loosens the soil surface by cutting grooves with a series of knives where the process of aeration, which would be the second option, pulls a soil plug out of the ground and does not prep the soil surface like verticutting. Performing both verticutting and aerating will only add to the success of the overseeding.
After the first verticutting there may be debris brought to the surface that may need to be removed before spreading the seed and fertilizer. Once the seed and fertilizer have been spread, a second verticutting at a right angle to the first verticutting is desired to aid in settling the seed at the soil level, thus increasing the germination of the new seed.
Other considerations are the type of seed and seasonal timing. We only use certified seed when performing overseedings. Certified seed guarantees the seed to be free of weed seed and that it has a high germination percentage. Investing in a quality seed reduces maintenance costs once the seed germinates. September 1st to October 15th is the best time to overseed during the year. Overseeding at this time of year gives the seed the cool fall season to germinate and the spring growing season to develop a root system before the summer weather conditions arrive.
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