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Slit seeding existing lawn?

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by lasher66, Apr 16, 2007.

  1. lasher66

    lasher66 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 399

    I usually overseed existing lawn with a spreader, but I have a customer that wants her lawn slit seeded. I am going to rent one and do it for her. I never used a slit seeder before, so I wanted to make sure this is going to work ok. Do I need to criss-cross with it or just go one direction? It doesnt mess up existing lawn does it? Thanks for any help.

  2. Turfco Tim

    Turfco Tim LawnSite Member
    Messages: 101

    Slit seeding is a very effective way to get seed to soil contact which increases germination rates. One variable to be aware of is the type of "slit seeder" you use. Many rental stores have dethatchers with seed boxes attached.
    Dethatching and seeding are two very different practices. The purpose of dethatching is to remove excess thatch which creates a lot of debris that should be removed. Slit seeding cuts open the turf and disrupts the surface of the soil so the seed can germinate. The issue with a dethatcher with a seed box is that the seed sometimes gets caught in the thatch that is pulled up. When you remove the thatch you end up removing the seed.

    Once you get the right machine and are at the job site set the blade depth so the blades are scratching the surface of the soil. Don't go too deep or you will pull up a bunch of debris. Remember no lawn is "pool table" flat so there will be areas where you will either cut deeper than you would like or not cut at all.

    The number of passes is determined by how thin the turf is. If you need to make two passes use a "diamond" pattern or 45 degree angles. Also if you are making two passes cut the seed rate in half.

    The final ingredient is the toughest and that is to get the homeowner to keep the seed wet. This is the area that you have no control over and probably causes the most loss of seed.

    Good luck!
  3. upidstay

    upidstay LawnSite Bronze Member
    from CT
    Messages: 1,575

    Seed 2 directions, to about 1/4" depth or so. I always just crisscrossed my pattern, no fancy diamonds. Always had excellent results on hundreds of lawns. Lightly rake off any heavy debris, then put a light coat of seed with a broadcast spreader. Follow up with starter fert, light shot of lime helps too. I always liked Lesco 18-24-12, but there are plenty of others out there if that's not available. I like pellet mulch for a top cover.
    Then it needs to be kept MOIST until it gets going. 5-15 minutes of water, 2-3 times a day. Good luck. See if you can rent a Lesco overseeder. They're the best IMO.
  4. DiyDave

    DiyDave LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,695

    Agree with the other posts, would add to mow the lawn a low as you are comfortable with, before slit seeding, this should be done about a week before the slit seeding, to allow the clippings to settle, otherwise, you'll pull up a lot of debris. Try the lesco renovater if there is a dealer near you, its a stable unit with a low center of gravity.:waving: :waving:
  5. DoetschOutdoor

    DoetschOutdoor LawnSite Bronze Member
    from S. IL
    Messages: 1,818

    If the lawn is thin enough and you only do 1 pass with the slit seeder, you will get the "crop row" effect so going more than 1 way is pretty important. Ive done alot of seeding the past few years and noticed that on a lawn that is already mainly established, a slit seeder does not penetrate through a thick lawn. Just depends on t.he lawn but slit seeding is about as easy as mowing, just put down good seed and do more than one pass making sure to cover all areas
  6. awdriven

    awdriven LawnSite Member
    Messages: 31

    The slit seeder will beat up the existing lawn and leave very visible grooves, but after a couple weeks the new grass will come in very well and the pre-existing grass will spring back. Just warn the HO the lawn will look like heck at first.

    Make sure that the HO keeps the top of the soil moist for the first two weeks. Water at least 2x daily, early morning and evening.

    It's also good to mow the existing grass down low as someone already said. Otherwise the existing grass will shade the seedlings.

    Also a good idea to put down some starter fertilizer at the same time you seed.

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