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Lawn leveling/overseeding

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by Random Steve, Oct 26, 2019.

  1. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 16,187

    For instance, Dr. Leah Brillman, head of Seed Research of Oregon (seed company), recommends 8 to 20 pounds of perennial rye per thousand sqft for Bermuda winter overseeding. She recommends a short cut first. No mention of topdressing--which would be impossible on a golf course--in any case.


    In my test on Sept 15, 2019, using tall fescue (generic turf-type, unknown varieties mix), I found greater thickness of the new tall fescue grass when seeded at rates up to about 40 pounds per thousand, on top of old turf. No topdressing. This test is more difficult to see and photograph as the new tall fescue is almost the same texture and color as the bluegrass. Maybe I can get a good photo in the future.

    Maybe you can fix low spots like this. Peel back the sod; add a bit of soil or sand to level. Roll the sod back and tamp down.
    If by chance--the low spot is due to heavy tracking or compaction--you still have the same pounds of soil.
    You just need to fluff it up with a garden fork or shovel. Spade it up to about an inch higher and assume it will settle slightly.

    You might consider pre-germination of your seed. Soak it overnight to quickly start the germination. Just dump it into a garbage can of water. Warm water is faster. Pour through a window screen to filter out the water and spread out to dry on a concrete floor. Sow the seed.

    Actually, I did some tests last year. You do not need to dry the seed, nor strain out the water. If you can figure out a practical method, apply the seed and water mix to the soil in need of repair. I am still trying to find an easy method to apply the seed slurry.

    The grass planting season is over here, 40 degrees F. However I am still trying to think of new grass experiments that can be done inside.
    Doc8406 likes this.
  2. OP
    Random Steve

    Random Steve LawnSite Member
    Messages: 9

    Very interesting! So much to learn and experiment with when it comes to seed. It seems to be so much of a science to me but also an art at the same time. I feel like some people just get it and have the knack for just throwing down some seed and poof perfect grass and other people (Myself included) try and take a bunch of extra time and care making the seedbed just right, applying the seed evenly, top dressing, watering it, tucking it in at night and telling it bedtime stories and then poof........only about half of it germinated and it needs to be reseeded yet again hahaha.

    Sounds like Pre-germination in water would be perfect for fixing single problem spots like Dog spots or around here spots from Racoons being assholes and digging up your lawn.

    I think its probably to late here to really do any more seeding.... I have some older bags of seed I may just throw down on the big bald patches and let sit over winter to see if any come up in the spring and then once it starts to warm up come spring I want to try overseeding really heavy like we've talked about here going all the way up to 40lbs a thousand and then very lightly covering with topdressing and see what happens. I probably won't do any fertilizer either.

    On a side note though about the sand. I do actually really like the feel of the sand on the lawn where the grass has come back thick. It feels soft and has some give to it but doesn't ever feel soggy or like I'm packing it down and causing settling while on it. On the other hand however the parts where the lawn isn't thick really suck you end up tracking sand on your shoes everywhere and it stands out like a sore thumb so that's something to note anyway.
  3. KerbDMK

    KerbDMK LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,578

    This research from Oregon Seed kind of reminds me a little bit like the research the tobacco companies did to promote the safety of cigarette smoking. Not saying it's the same but something to keep in mind. They are in the business of selling seed after all.
  4. OP
    Random Steve

    Random Steve LawnSite Member
    Messages: 9

    I hear yah. Still makes me curious though, especially since i've had semi poor success with overseeding at times. If I can find some time I might set a couple of containers up in the house with various amounts of seeds to see what kind of germination numbers I get. Might be kinda fun.
    KerbDMK likes this.
  5. KerbDMK

    KerbDMK LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,578

    Absolutely, and we should all be paying attention to what seems to work the best in our own locations and situations. :)

    Oh yeah, and read lots of studies, don't rely on just a few.
  6. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 16,187

    1. Good seed idea, Steve. Fall(late) and hit it again in spring. Pre-germinate indoors under warm conditions to speed it along. Consider a short cutting to reduce competition, let the seed fall to the dirt, and give the new grass more sunlight.
    I was wondering, late summer is best to seed--however--when is the best time of year to OVERSEED tall fescue?
    For instance, during summer you could stop the irrigation and mow short--to hold back the already established grass. Then add seed and start the water.

    I am trying to do a test to see if you can seed first--and mow short over the new seed. This would put the clippings on top of the seed--therefore the clippings would act as organic mulch.

    About the raccoons--be sure to check for signs of grubs in the soil. Around here skunks are quickly attracted lawns that have grubs in the fall. Raccoons sometimes.
    You can have a professional trap them, of course.
  7. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 16,187

  8. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 16,187

    Steve, you made an important point. Be sure it works on your own yard before you experiment on your customer's yard. For instance:
    How much topdressing is needed?
    Is sand as good as soil? As good as compost?
    This is assuming irrigation is adequate.
    How would this change if irrigation were unreliable--such as at a typical customer site?

    I did a quick test to see if peat moss top-dressing increased germination--in my non-irrigated vacant lot. I could see no difference.
    I did another micro-plot test with peat moss top dressed over new seed on bare soil. One ounce, 2 ounces, 3 ounces and 4 ounces, per square foot--approximately-- 62, 125, 187, and 250 pounds per thousand sqft--(calculated rates). However, it was October 17, probably too late in the year for the seed to germinate.
  9. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 16,187

    Steve, one more thing.
    Take a look at this research and recommendations for sand-cap athletic fields. Sounds like major topdressing with sand is fine.


    Sand is usually the result of a few thousand years of wind blowing sand particles into big dunes. The particles tend to be smooth and round--not a firm footing unless some clay or loam is included. Sand is well-drained, of course.
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2019

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