By Dennis L. Patton
After a hot, dry summer, most of us have areas in our lawn that did not survive. Dead patches may be present throughout the lawn. Re-seeding may be necessary to bring your lawn back to top-notch standards.
Best Time to Overseed Kansas City Lawns
The ideal time to seed bluegrass and tall fescue lawns in the Kansas City area is early to mid-September. At this time of the year, the soil temperatures are still high, nighttime temperatures start to fall, and more rainfall is usually received. This combination makes almost perfect conditions for quick germination and establishment of turf from seed.
Good Soil Preparation Key to Success
• Verticutting
Besides the correct timing, proper soil preparation is vital for success. The best method for preparing the soil for overseeding is by verticutting. A verticut slices grooves in the soil creating an area for the small grass seed to fall and wash when seeding. It is this contact with the soil that is so important. Simply spreading the seed on the crusted soil will result in poor germination and an uneven stand.
• Core aeration
Core aeration is also available for seedbed preparation. It is not as highly recommended for overseeding. Aeration is good for the overall health and maintenance of a lawn, but results in a less uniform stand of grass and lengthens the time it takes for the bare areas to fill in.
Purchase High Quality Seed
High quality seed is also a must for success. Avoid seed mixes that do not contain a high percentage of the recommended bluegrass and tall fescue varieties. Avoid inexpensive seed that contains species such as creeping red fescue, fine leaf fescue, perennial and annual rye and annual bluegrass. These species may look good quickly after seeding but they are sure to fail under stressful summer conditions.
Use a Starter Fertilizer
Fertilizer is the other needed product for seeding. New seed should be fertilized with a balanced fertilizer such as 13-13-13 or a high phosphorus product such as 10-20-10. Do not be fearful to fertilize at seeding because the young seedlings need the added boost to quickly develop and establish. The existing grass will also benefit.
The better prepared you are when it comes to overseeding, the greater the likelihood of success. For additional information call the Johnson County K-State Research and Extension Office at 913-715-7000.
Dennis L. Patton, is the M.S., county horticulture agent, K-State Research and Extension/Johnson County