Now that the heat of summer has left us for the cool crispness of early fall, it is time to consider resurrecting your dry, damaged lawn. Reseeding a lawn in the fall allows the grass to set roots over the winter, sprout vivaciously in the spring and prepare itself for the unavoidable summer swelter.
Step 1: Rake the yard to remove as much dead grass and thatch as possible. Consider renting a gas-powered dethatcher to really pull up the dead grass and expose fresh soil for the soon-to-be-sown seed.
Step 2: Loosen the soil. If the ground has not been aerated for several years, it is time to rent a core aerator and aerate the lawn. Otherwise, a good, strong rake and a lot of hard work should do the job.
Step 3: Choose the right grass seed for the project. Fescues do well in areas with hot summers and cold winters. Some fescue blends, such as Defiance by Royal Seed, do well in both sun and shade.
Step 4: Prepare the soil by spreading a low-nitrogen fertilizer formulated specifically for starting grass or by spreading a thin layer of cotton burr or other compost over the entire yard.
Step 5: Sow the seed. Use a broadcast spreader or verticutter /overseeder to spread seed onto the lawn at the appropriate rate. Fill up the seed hopper with a small amount of seed and watch as it is dispersed to gauge whether the seed is being dropped at the correct rate. Adjust the hopper as necessary and continue on.
Step 6: Once the seed has been sown, it will need to be raked in or “planted.” If a verticutter was used to spread the seed, simply run the machine over the yard one more time without dropping seed to allow the flailing blades to work the seed into the soil. Otherwise, use a hand rake to assure the seed is planted.
Step 7: Once the seed is planted, reduce foot traffic on the lawn and water the seeded area twice daily. Keep the top half-inch of soil moist for the next 3-4 weeks. Be careful not to overwater.
Grass should begin to germinate within 2-3 weeks, and come next spring, you should have a lush carpet of green grass that will be the envy of your neighborhood.