However, you can take steps now to freshen up your lawn for next spring. Although you can reseed your lawn at any time during the growing season, fall offers the unbeatable combination of warm soil and cooler air temperatures. When you reseed your lawn in the fall, you also give it the most amount of time to become well established before next summer’s heat and activities.
Reseeding your lawn is a relatively easy process, but it does involve more than just scattering some seed. Here are five steps to follow.
Step 1 — Clean up
Since grass seed requires direct contact with soil for it to germinate properly, your first step is to clear away any debris from your lawn.
Begin by mowing your lawn and collecting the grass clippings. Then rake your lawn with a heavy-duty rake to remove thatch, which is the term for the build-up of dead plant material and dried clippings that can form above the soil surface.
When you remove the thatch, you increase air circulation and better allow water and other nutrients to penetrate into the soil. Additionally, accumulation of thatch creates the opportunity for pests and weeds to flourish in your lawn.
Step 2 — Open up
Now it is time to loosen the soil and aerate your lawn. Your best bet is to water your lawn lightly before you do this step or to time it for just after a light rainfall. Some moisture will definitely make the job easier, but you do not want the ground to be too wet.
Depending on the size of your lawn and your energy level, you can use a spading (or digging fork) or a rolling aerator that you push as you would a push mower. For very large lawns, you may want to rent a gas-powered aerator or one you can hook up to your riding mower.
Step 3 — Spread the Seed
Now it is time to spread the seed. Select a top quality seed or seed mixture that is right for your lawn. If you have small lawn, you can apply the seed by hand, but you will get more even coverage with a mechanical spreader.
It may be tempting to put down as much seed as possible, but be careful not to overdo it. More is not better when it comes to grass seed. In fact, too much seed can causes new shoots to compete for light, water and nutrients, resulting in poor growth.
Step 4 — Protect the Seed
Now is the time to apply the recommended fertilizer for your lawn. You can simply put the fertilizer in your spreader and go back over the same area.
Next, cover your fresh seed with a thin layer of compost mulch to help it retain water during the germination process.
Step 5 — Water the Seeded Area
Proper moisture is essential for proper seed germination. Lightly water the newly seeded area with your garden hose or sprinkler twice a day — early morning and early evening — until the new grass is at least 1-inch tall. Then you can cut back the watering to about once a week.
Aim to keep kids and pets off the seeded area until the new grass is established.
Here are a few more fall lawn tips to help prepare for a healthy spring.
Continue to mow your lawn at the highest setting on your mower until it begins to go dormant. Then you can you can drop the setting to 2-inch height for northern grasses and the 1-inch height for southern grasses. Check directions from your seed manufacturer for other mowing information.
Continue to mow over fallen leaves. You mower will shred them into a mulch that will slowly decompose over the colder months. The decaying leaves will provide nitrogen and other nutrients to your soil, which will help your grass.
Autumn is the best time to prepare your lawn for a great spring and summer. A little time and effort now will pay off in a greener, lusher lawn next year.