Lawn overseeding

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I gotten estimates from three companies to overseed my 12,000-sq. ft. lawn in central New Jersey. Each uses a different method to apply the seeds.
1. Slit the soil. The seeds fall immediately behind slitting blades into the slits/grooves. This will cause the sprouts to be all in a row, "military" style, until they spread and fill in. An alternative is to make two passes, at 45 or 90 degrees, so the rows are less noticable before they fill in.
2. Aerate, then spread the seeds. Some seeds drop into the holes; most remain on the surface. The cores also remain on the surface. At first watering or rain, the cores breakdown and cover the surface seeds. A concern: the aeration holes are over 1.5" deep. So the seeds that fall into them may be too deep. I don't know the long-term impact on a lawn where maybe 10% of the seeds start from a much deeper depth.
Scott's instructions say that for overseeding, it's only necessary to work the top 1/4" in thin and bare areas; for a new lawn they say to loosen the top 2 to 3 inches.
3. Lawndoctor uses their own patented machine, which seems to work like a slitter. But it has many more blades, with smaller spacing between rows, and the slits each blade makes aren't continuous. They sort of stir-up the soil, without damaging existing grass. So there shouldn't be that initial "military" look.
After putting down the seed, none of the companies followup with rolling, to improve seed-soil contact.
Thanks for your comments and recommendations.
Ray
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alot depends on the lawn your overseeding. If its sod, there is a layer of peat that needs to be penetrated to get the seed in contact with the dirt. Slit seeding is how they do it.
IF its a seeded lawn initially all you have to do is scuff up the soil. The are several ways of doing that. I use a veritcal rake (dethatcher). Sometimes theyu will top dress the soil with a thin layer of dirt. you want to make little nooks and crannies for the seed to wedge into (grass seed needs sunlight to sprout and cant be buried)
You can also buy paper pellets that swellup and break down in water. Its also a good way to get seed in contact with dirt. Regardless, the key is getting the seed in contact with dirt
I believe that aeration is too deep for any seed to grow, unless they are depending on the plugs decomposing to provide the nooks and crannies and then I think it would be a rather clumpy lawn.

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Jmagerl wrote:

I don't think there's a peat layer. In 2004, I dethached the lawn. This year, I don't bag the clippings, so there is a season's worth of clippings there. I use a mulching mower, so probably most of those clippings have decomposed.

I bought a bag (from Lowes) of something called starter fertilizer and seedling mulch. They portrayed it as something that, besides fertilizing, will capture evening dew and release it thoughout the day to maintain seed moisture. No mention of improving soil/seed contact.

That's my fear.
Thanks.
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I see you are considering fesque. Be aware that this is a "clump" grass as opposed to a "tiller and Rhizome" grass. WHat that means: Fesque grows in a clump. it spreads by growing the clump bigger. IT is considered a non invasive grass. It won't spread to the flower beds. Blue grass and Rye grass spread by tiller and rhizomes. Kinda like strawberry runners but underground. IF you slit seed with a spacing of 3 inches it will take a long time for fesque to knit together. Blue grass/Rye grass will spread faster and fill in faster. ALso consider dogs. A dose of urine will kill either grass but it takes longer for the fesque grass to fill back in. Usually you have to reseed the spot.
There is rhizominasious (is that a word?) fesque. but its usually not offered in northern climates.
I would consider a tri-blend mix of Fesque,bluegrass,and rye grass.

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Much of the above post is incorrect. Creeping red fescue is sold quite a bit in the northern areas for dry/shady areas. It spreads will spread quite well. Rye grass clumps and does not spread by rhizome.
Be careful with overseeding.
Peter H
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Sorry, I was refering to the turf type tall fesques

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Ray K. wrote:

First question: Why do you want to overseed?
Second question: What type of grass do you have now and what kind are you using to overseed?
--
Joseph Meehan

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Joseph Meehan wrote:

Bare and thin spots, and too many weeds of various types (clover, violets, crabgrass, and others I can't identify). Yes, I'll put a crabgrass preventer down next spring. If there were a magic weed killer that can get rid of the other stuff, too much of my lawn would be gone.

I'm not sure of present composition - whatever is appropriate for New Jersey. Reseeding will probably be fescue, as recommended by the companies.
Thanks.
Thanks.
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Ray K. wrote:

I suggest you contact your local county extension agent.
A lot of times products and services suggested as solutions to lawn problems create even more problems and certainly make money for the guys providing the services. Over seeding is one of the services that I see as more likely to be a money maker than to offer the homeowner any real value.
Before you go over seeding, I suggest you start with the basics and fix the problems first and then if needed (depends on the type of grasses you have now) over seed. I have found that most of the time just good care will do far more and cost less and look better than all those special services. Sometimes less is more, for example in my area fertilizing in the summer will damage lawns in most year (it looks good for a couple of week though) but people keep doing it.
The county extension office does not make money from you or they guys selling the products and services. They know the local conditions.
--
Joseph Meehan

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value.
fix
will
Joseph is right.
I spent about a dozen years with my own lawn care business in a climate not far removed from yours. Overseeding is rarely the solution. If you have weeds now they will just crowd out the new grass plants.
In defense of the industry lots of times people will convince themselves of the proper solution and then just call you up for a quote. When you try to explain to them that there are better options many just assume that you are trying to gouge them somehow.
I suggest that you have a lawn care "expert" out to see if you have an insect problem. If so get rid of them first. Then wack the weeds really well this fall and again in the spring w/ a good liquid herbicide. A good fertilization in the spring and my guess is that by this time next year you'll have a great lawn.
Good luck with it.
Peter H
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Peter H wrote:

Yea, I may have sounded like the whole industry is out to get you, but there are good guys out there. Generally they will be independents and not a chain that has their standard sales requirements.
--
Joseph Meehan

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Peter H wrote:

Thanks for the suggestions.
Ray
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Frankly, I don't think overseeding would be a good idea. It sounds like you need to take a soil sample (and maybe some pictures of the problem areas in the lawn) down to the country extension agent and get the soil tested.
Offhand, I'd say improving the soil structure by core aerating and raking compost into the holes would be a good first step. If the soil is really compacted, it may take a few years to get the soil back into shape. Overseed if you want, but simply improving the soil so that the existing grass can compete against the weeds would do a world of good.
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Andy Hill wrote:

Thanks, Andy, for the feedback. Some of these estimates are over $300, so whatever I can do myself, I will. The problem is the expense of renting and delivering the aerator (about $125 together). I think the rental store said they weigh about 250 pounds; I don't know how hard they are to handle.
Ray
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I have over seeded before and it causes as many problems as it solves. Any grass seed has a percentage of weed seeds. Every time I have over seeded I have had to spend hours of weeding the following yea. If you are willing to put up with the introduction of new weeds then go ahead.
The best solution is to keep your existing lawn in shape so that you don't feel the need to put more seed down.
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As others have suggested, I would first fix the problems you have and then overseed if necessary. A lawn full of crabgrass and weeds is going to offer tough competition for the new grass. You can whack the weeds with a broadleaf weed killer and hit the crabgrass with Aclaim. If you do that now, you could still overseed in a couple of weeks.
For overseeding, I would go with the slice seeder, which offers excellent soil/seed contact. It's true the grass will come up in rows, but that's only an issue for new lawns, without existing grass and even then, I don't think it's worth worrying about. It will be hardly noticeable in an existing lawn.
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As others have suggested, I would first fix the problems you have and then overseed if necessary. A lawn full of crabgrass and weeds is going to offer tough competition for the new grass. You can whack the weeds with a broadleaf weed killer and hit the crabgrass with Aclaim. If you do that now, you could still overseed in a couple of weeks.
For overseeding, I would go with the slice seeder, which offers excellent soil/seed contact. It's true the grass will come up in rows, but that's only an issue for new lawns, without existing grass and even then, I don't think it's worth worrying about. It will be hardly noticeable in an existing lawn.
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I live in a rural area in Ohio about an hour south of Cleveland. I went to the local grain elevator to buy my grass seed and asked the guy at the counter the best way to overseed.
He told me to spread the seed FIRST with a spreader, THEN go over the area with a core areator.
You're not trying to get the seed to fall down the holes, you're trying to get the seed covered with dirt.
So first spread the seed, then go over and over the area (not just one or two passes)with the core areator so that the tractor tires break up the cores and you end up with a small layer of dirt on top of the seed, which is what you really need.
Depending on soil condition, use some starter fertilizer too.
I did all of the steps above and had great results. I bought a core aeretor for my tractor at lowes. I figure i'll areate each spring and maybe fall to help the ground absorb moisture and fertilizer.
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Thanks for the excellent tips. Since my lawn is only 12,000 Sq ft, I can't justify a tractor. (It only takes me an hour to mow it with a 22" blade, propelled, non-riding mower.) An aerator rental is about $50, plus $75 to deliver and return. (I own only a Camry.) But if I hire someone, I'll be sure he does things in the sequence you suggest.
Thanks,
Ray
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I can't imagine why anybody would recommend core aeration as part of a reseeding program. Company #2 sounds like a bunch of hacks - drop them from consideration.
Companies #1 & #3 both sound reasonable. Get some references from them on (1) new jobs they'll be starting soon, (2) jobs very recently completed, and (3) jobs performed earlier this year. That way, you can observe their methods and results yourself.
Good luck, Gideon
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