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How to Overseed Your Lawn For Winter

Your warm season lawn stays beautiful and green all spring and summer… but when the cool weather rolls around, it turns brown as it slips into dormancy. While this is a totally natural process and should be expected for any warm season grass, a brown lawn isn’t what any homeowner wants to look at for months on end. There is a great solution though! To maintain a pretty green lawn all year long, simply overseed a cool season grass when your warm season grass goes into dormancy. 

Overseeding isn’t a very difficult task and can easily be accomplished by the DIY homeowner. Here is a simple guide on how to get the job done. 

How to Overseed Your Lawn for Winter

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Step 1: Test Your Soil

The first step we recommend is testing your soil. Your soil’s health is what determines the overall health of your grass. Working from the ground up is the best way to ensure superior grass quality.

Taking a soil analysis and sending it to a laboratory is affordable, but typically takes about two weeks to complete depending on where you send it. Keep this timeframe in mind before planting seed so that you have enough time to receive results and determine what your soil needs.

A simple soil analysis will tell you about the soil and any deficiencies you may need to address before tackling your overseeding project. Be sure to check out our article on How to Test Your Soil for more information on soil tests.

Step 2: Choose the Right Seed

Selecting the type of grass seed for your lawn is probably one of the most enjoyable parts of the lawn installation process.

Warm season regions will use cool season grass seed as it gets closer to winter to keep lawns green when the warm season grass enters winter dormancy. Cool season grass stays green during the winter, so it’s not uncommon to see a bermuda grass lawn overseeded with ryegrass seed. 

Examples of cool season grasses include fescues, bluegrass and rye grass. Learn more about the difference between warm and cool season grass seed here.

Make sure it’s a cool season grass like an annual or perennial rye grass seed. Don’t make the mistake of choosing a warm season grass seed–it will go dormant just like your current grass does in the winter. 

Find grass seed for sale.

Step 3: Measure the Planting Area

The third step involves finding out how much seed you’ll need to purchase. We recommend using the Area Calculator Tool to draw and measure how much surface area you’ll need to cover.

  • Start by entering your address.
  • Draw an overlay shape for where you plan to install new seed.
  • You can now move forward with this square footage number to compare seed prices.

Find more detailed instructions here or watch the video below. Although the tool was originally meant to help homeowners discover how much sod they need, the tool provides you with information about how many square feet you’ll need to cover, which can also be applied to seed.

This will inform you how much seed to apply. Simply use the area calculator at Sod Solutions to get an idea of how much seed you’ll need to purchase. 

Step 4: Rid Your Lawn of Any Current Issues

Make sure any disease or pest issues are resolved prior to overseeding. Sadly, the disease or pest issue won’t go away when you plant new seed and will likely hinder your overseed project from becoming successful. 

This can be as simple as pulling the weeds out by hand in the area or as difficult as treating the area with an herbicide, insecticide or fungicide. Browse through our online control products here.

Step 5: Plant the Seed

Use a broadcast or drop spreader in a tic-tac-toe formation to ensure the ground is covered thoroughly. Be sure to follow instructions on both your seed and spreader so that the right amount of seed per square foot is distributed.

Step 6: Double-Check for Even Distribution

Be sure to go back and rake in the seed. Double-check the area you’ve applied seed in and fill any bare spots in by hand for an even application. 

Step 7: Water and Fertilize
watering lawn with hose sprayer

Select a grass seed fertilizer that provides the necessary nutrients your soil may need according to the soil analysis results you should’ve received by now. Your new seed needs plenty of phosphorus at this time.

Phosphorus helps roots grow so that the new sod can establish successfully. Sometimes it can be hard to understand a fertilizer label so we discuss a few ways to interpret and find what you’re looking for here

We recommend using Lawnifi’s® New Lawn Starter Box, which comes with three bottles of liquid grass seed fertilizer.

Grow, the first and second bottle of the New Lawn Starter Box, is especially useful during the establishment process. It serves to promote healthy root growth of newly planted seed by providing nutrients like phosphorus, potassium and carbon.

Apply the first bottle of Lawnifi Grow at half rate (only use a half of the bottle). The soil should be moist 3–4 inches deep.

Step 8: Maintain During Establishment

For the next 10–20 days, water your newly planted seed about 1-inch deep into the soil’s surface every day. Take rainfall into consideration. Use a sprinkler to mist over the surface of the soil so that it is moist, but not soggy. 

We also recommend using the remainder of your New Lawn Starter Box in accordance with the application schedule during establishment. Once the seed starts to germinate, keep the top 2-inches of soil moist until grass reaches a mowing height of around 3-inches. 

After that, decrease watering to twice per week and soak the soil about 6–8 inches deep. Then transition to a regular maintenance schedule based on the grass type you have selected. Review our maintenance calendars here.

The Best Time to Plant Grass Seed

The best time to overseed your lawn is when temperatures begin to cool down and your warm season grass begins to slip into dormancy—late fall/early winter. The rule of thumb when it comes to when to plant grass seed is that you should get it done before the first freeze of the winter season occurs. Learn more here.

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