Once the end of summer arrives, you don’t have to say good-bye to a lush, green lawn. Summer grasses like zoycia or Bermuda can be overseeded with winter grasses including Kentucky bluegrass or ryegrass for a green lawn all winter long. Overseeding can also correct lawn problems that stem from mismanagement such as a scraggly, patchy lawn. Overseeding is a weekend project that can be accomplished by one person.
Set your lawn mower’s deck to the lowest setting and mow your lawn. Your grass needs to remain short enough that seeds can receive sunlight to germinate.
Collect all grass clippings by raking them up and bagging them and leaving them on the curb for your city’s yard waste collection or placing them in a compost bin with your raked leaves to compost them. You can apply finished compost from your grass clippings in spring and summer as a top dressing for more healthy lawns.
Rake the lawn thoroughly with a garden rake. Use enough pressure to score furrows through your lawn thatch and into the ground. Grass seed must come into contact with the soil through these furrows in order to germinate and sprout. For larger yards, rent a core aerator from a garden center and pass it over your lawn in the same way as you would a lawn mower. Core aerators remove plugs of grass and soil to pull oxygen down to the soil level and aerate a lawn.
Select a winter grass that will grow well in your part of the country. Kentucky bluegrass will grow well in many areas of the country. Some varieties of ryegrass will grow better in some parts of the country, while others will not survive.
Spread seed using a broadcast spreader. Walk the spreader over your lawn in rows that touch one another and travel in the same direction. Then walk a second path that is perpendicular to your first pattern.
Water your lawn with ¼ inch of water four times daily for the first 14 days to keep the lawn moist and promote seed germination. Mow your lawn so that the grass remains only 1 ½ inch tall.
Once the seeds germinate, taper off watering your lawn until you water only 1 inch every seven days. Raise the deck of your mower as the grass seedlings reach 1 ½ inches in height.