I don't have a heavy layer of dead grass and my lawn is not very built
up so is it necessary to get the new seeds to grow? I read that you
need to dethatch only if the dead material is over 1/2". Mine is much
For grass seed to germinate it must be in contact with the soil, so
when over seeding you need to dethatch or your germimation rate will
be extremely low... much better if you aerate too. When the seed sits
atop the thatch (regardless how little thatch) not only won't it
germinate but the birds will eat most of your labors the very first
day. Even when doing a superb job and followintg all the directions
the birds will still devour a substantial amount of your seed...
that's why it's called OVER seeding, as in an OVER abundance of seed,
much more than would be necessary if there were no birds. Birds are
attracted to grass seed like a magnet, that's why when many people put
in a new seeded lawn the last thing they do is cover everything with a
few inches thick blanket of straw to deter the birds.
If you have thatch, it is good to dethatch. This problem will persist
if you don't water properly. That is what causes thatch to build up.
It's the roots staying on top of or close to the top layer of soil
where the water is. Watering deeply removes this problem. One inch
of water will percolate down approximately 8 inches, so that's how to
water properly...till the lawn area has had a full inch. How often
you do this depends on many other factors which you didn't ask about,
so I won't bore you.
If you want to use perennial rye or fescue for winter turf, and if you
determine whether or not you have a thatch problem, you simply
broadcast the seed or put it into a spreader, preferably not a drop
spreader. After you lay down the seed, take your leaf rake and tool
it around to help the seed drop to soil level. You must water daily
until the seed germinates. To get better results I would say, if you
have the money to call someone to core aerate the soil, broadcast
compost to a depth of 1/4 inch, then broadcast grass seed and gently
rake it in with the leaf rake.
The type of compost which is best for this purpose, provided you don't
have trees, is bacterial compost made of cow manure or other animal
manure which has been well composted. Horse manure will have a lot of
weed seeds so for turf I don't recommend it unless that horse manure
along with the pine shavings from the stalls has been kept hot for at
least a month before turning it, then hot again for another few weeks,
and turning it over and over until it is thoroughly and sufficiently
decomposed, rendering seeds non-viable.
Too much information? I do tend to do that.
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