2 lawn seeding/overseeding questions

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by PushingupDaisies, May 11, 2010.

  1. PushingupDaisies

    PushingupDaisies LawnSite Member
    Messages: 129

    I have two relatively unrelated seeding questions. I consider myself a green thumb, but it always seems greener when I ask those more experienced.

    1st one is for a new customer:

    Just picked up this customer. He helped a "friend-of-a-friend" with his new hydroseed biz and had his lawn seeded last year. From the little I know, it sounds like the guy should have made a follow-up overseeding visit. He didn't.

    He's asked me to mow down the jungle (which I now have him on a bi weekly contract). He has some decent established grass, but quite a few holes that have filled in with all sorts of weeds. I don't know the exact KBG mix that was used, but he has plenty of holes that I think overseeding should still blend well.

    Here is the question (as I have never done overseeding in a lawn):

    What steps should I take? Should I spray to kill all of the weeds and apply a fert first and then aplly seed when most of the weeds are gone? Or, should I mow it low, overseed, and then address the weeds later?

    Also, when overseeding, should I run over the patches with a rake before seeding, and how long should I wait to mow again?

    Any advice would be great!

    2nd question:

    This is for my own yard.

    I fall into that category of "the cobbler's children have no shoes." My yard is far from a thing of beauty. After living here 4 years, I think its time to change that. My incredibly buggy, over-watering, over-fertilizing neighbor who mows his lawn twice a week for fun will be happier too (an unfortunate side effect). Obviously I spend my days mowing lawns and so spending many more hours on my own is not a happy thought. I am also somewhat of an experimentalist and also a penny pinching tree-hugger (aka if it saves me money and is more effecient as well as bio friendly, I'm all ears).

    I am putting in a new lawn area that is oval shaped and roughly 55' by 25'. I have seen catalogs touting different seed mixes meant to be waterwise and low maintenance. Has anyone had experience with these? Any recommendations for maybe something slightly out of the ordinary for a KBG jungle neighborhood here in SLC, UT?

    I have attached two links to the grasses I saw in a catalog:




    Thanks for you help!
  2. ChiTownAmateur

    ChiTownAmateur LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 386

    For the customer's lawn you could simply mow and overseed but the results won't be great. You'll fill in some bare spots but the weeds will grow again, and you'll have to wait a few months before you could use something to kill off the weeds -- and then you still have thin areas -- so for most of the summer they would have a thicker but still weedy lawn and it would eventually have thin areas again once the weeds are killed off.

    You should have them find out what was seeded. Seed selection is critically important as is purchasing high quality seed. Do not pass up this step simply because they may balk at finding out for you...tell them that yes you can overseed with a nice KBG but they started the job and you want it done right. If they won't find out at least you tried and have a good reason to give them if in the end it doesn't match up well.

    If they will pay you to do it right you should spray the weeds and wait for them to die off. Then ideally you would till up those spots (shovel or spade is fine) and if you don't have the time or budget for digging them up, you at least need to rake those areas a bit to loosen the soil and remove a bit of the dead matter.

    If the entire lawn has thin spots, then I would spray the weeds dead, then mow the entire lawn short. Dig up the weedy spots a bit, then overseed the entire lawn. If the weedy spots were large, you can put a little extra seed into those bare spots versus what is overseeded on the whole lawn (can be 2 operations...overseed the whole thing and then fill in the spots a bit more.)

    Someone will have to make sure the lawn is watered a few times a day, every day until the new grass germinates. You will know when it does because the bare spots that had weeds will show when it emerges. If they have KBG it could be as long as 6-8 weeks before the watering can go back to "normal".

    For your home lawn:
    You may live in high or low country, get a lot of sun or a little, type of soil etc all are very important. Contact the seed company and provide them with this information and they will come back with a few very good choices they think will establish and maintain easily for you. Although I or someone else can try to make a recommendation, nobody knows better than the companies that grow and/or distribute the seed. It's their job to know what works well and what doesn't.
  3. ChiTownAmateur

    ChiTownAmateur LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 386

    apply the starter fertilizer at the same time that you put down the seeds. If the lawn is not that large you could use a starter fert that contains some crabgrass and weed control such as Scotts Stater Fert Step 1. It's expensive stuff relative to the basic starter fert but it will help prevent new weeds forming. Bag that covers 5000 sq feet is about $40-$50. It does NOT kill existing weeds, and the surface of the ground cannot be distrubed aftere it is put down (don't rake or dig anything after putting it down).

    The weed control is not necessary for what you are doing, but it provides a barrier that will help prevent new weed seeds from germinating. Again it's just a matter of how much they are willing to spend and how nice they want it to look and how soon.
  4. PushingupDaisies

    PushingupDaisies LawnSite Member
    Messages: 129

    Thank you for taking the time to get me that info.

    If we go the weed kill, turn the soil and overseed route (which is what I think I prefer), how soon after can the lawn be mowed? Since they are bi weekly, I would seed right after my regular mow. Is two weeks enough time? The whole yard is spotty, so I imagine that they will have a little jungle for a while during germination. I know that mowing short will help a little bit there.

    Any thoughts on this?

    Thanks again
  5. ChiTownAmateur

    ChiTownAmateur LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 386

    When overseeding you CAN mow. It's when you establish a new lawn from scratch that you have to be the most careful.

    The issues to consider when mowing are:
    1) The heavy wheels of good mowers can rip up tender new plants.
    2) The vacuum part of the mower can suck up the seeds

    What you want to know is when germination will occur. It depends completely upon which type of grass is grown...pure strain, mixture, which kinds? Rye grass will pop up in 3-10 days, fescues in 7-20, bluegrass in 14-35.

    Once the new seeds are put down and watered in several times they will start to settle into the soil a bit and prevent an issue where they can be vacuumed up. So if you can wait at least two weeks the odds are the vacuum problem will not be a problem. Issue #2 solved!

    So let's solve #1. If the problem is that the wheels of the mower can and will rip up some of the new seedlings, the goal is to minimize this occurence.

    a) If you have a smaller mower that is not as heavy that would help on the first few mowings. Not required, but helps.
    b) The general rule is not to cut off more than 1/3 of the lawn in one cutting. You can modify that a little once when you are overseeding but you don't want a jungle. No more than 4" or so really, above 5" you are inviting trouble.
    c) Bag the clippings for at least a few mowings (especially the mowing before overseeding) . When overseeding the little guys need access to the dirt, and the sunlight and if you don't bag the clippings, they may have trouble getting enough of both. If you normally don't bag the clippings you can go back to that once the new grass is established (mowed a few times).

    When you overseed, you mow short so that you have the maximum time possible before mowing again.

    I would recommend, if possible, skipping one mowing and waiting a month. It would not hurt to check their lawn after 3 weeks to make sure it is not growing too tall..if it is I would mow it. If it can make it 5 or even 6 weeks without growing past 4" or so, all the better. If the lawn is 4" or above in 2 weeks however, mow it.

    When you mow that first time be extra careful...straight lines, no hard turns. Mow every two weeks after your first mowing like normal.

    Make sure, because they will be watering 2x a day, that the lawn is mostly dry when you mow it...if it's wet enough it would become a muddy hell if you try to mow after a watering. They should skip one watering cycle if at all possible before you mow (the night before if in the morning, the morning of if mowing in the afternoon). If it's very dry there and sunny, don't skip a watering but instead water just enough to barely wet it down. You do not want to EVER allow the bed to go completely dry when overseeding...the #1 reason for failure.
  6. PushingupDaisies

    PushingupDaisies LawnSite Member
    Messages: 129

    Thank you!
  7. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,813

    Hydroseeders use a high percentage of ryegrass. There is a good chance that is what your friend has. Rye tends to dominate if planted together with bluegrass. If so, seed the spots with rye/blue mixture--then overseed all with the same mixture.

    Does it get hot where you are? I don't think fine fescue is capable of withstanding heat. Perhaps the dwarf tall fescue is the choice for your lawn--but bluegrass is also nice and it creeps better.

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