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FAQs - Lawn - Overseeding and Renovation - Summer

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My lawn is thin in many areas and I want to overseed. If I mow the lawn short can I just spread the seed over the top of the existing grass or is there something else I need to do before I plant it?

How long do I have to wait to apply seed to my lawn after I have applied a weedkiller?

We recently moved into a new house in a wooded neighborhood with lots of tall shade trees. What type of grass is best in shade?  We have a sloping, shady yard, have two small children and a big dog so it gets lots of wear and tear and needs a tough grass.   What do you suggest?

My lawn is a mess. I never fertilize it because I do not want to hurt the Bay. Now it is full of bare spots, weeds and brown grass. What can I do to help to improve my lawn?

My lawn is thin in many areas and I want to overseed. If I mow the lawn short can I just spread the seed over the top of the existing grass or is there something else I need to do before I plant it?

Overseeding will help to thicken up a thin lawn but there is a process to it. First, if it has been more than 3 years since your last soil test you should do one again. Seed to soil contact is essential for germination and growth. It is necessary to use a core aerator or a vertical mower to slice into the soil before seeding.  Core aeration also helps to ease soil compaction on yards with heavy foot traffic. For the best chance of success, these tasks should be done in the fall.

How long do I have to wait to apply seed to my lawn after I have applied a weedkiller?

That information should be found on the label of the product you applied. In general for broadleaf weed herbicides it can be a matter of weeks. If you applied a crabgrass preemergent you may need to wait as long as 3-4 months. The wait time is less if you applied a non-selective herbicide to kill all the vegetation. Just make sure that the weeds are dead before seeding.

We recently moved into a new house in a wooded neighborhood with lots of tall shade trees. What type of grass is best in shade?  We have a sloping, shady yard, have two small children and a big dog so it gets lots of wear and tear and needs a tough grass.   What do you suggest?

Growing grass under large shade trees is difficult. The fact that your dog and children also use this area complicates matters. There is not a species of grass that will grow in the shade and handle heavy foot traffic as well. Blends of fine fescues which include hard, chewings, and creeping red fescue are low maintenance grasses that handle shady conditions, but not foot traffic. Consider pruning the trees to allow more light into the yard.  Turf type tall fescue will grow in areas that receive about 4-5 hours of sunlight and holds up better to active families.  In the fall, be prepared to overseed on a regular basis.  Test your soil to check the pH before beginning a lawn renovation project.  Plant a shade loving groundcover in areas where turf will not grow. Mulch around the base of the trees.

My lawn is a mess. I never fertilize it because I do not want to hurt the Bay. Now it is full of bare spots, weeds and brown grass. What can I do to help to improve my lawn?

Improving your lawn will take some time and effort. Begin your project with a soil test. Then assess the lawn, if it is more than 50% weeds you will need to do complete renovation. Rent a sod cutter to remove the existing lawn or beginning in mid-August spray the area with a nonselective herbicide to kill the vegetation.  If you have perennial grass weeds like bermudagrass (wire grass) a second application 10-14 days later will be necessary. Prepare the seed bed by adding organic matter and the fertilizer and lime that was indicated in your soil test results. After the lawn becomes established fertilize at least once a year in the fall. Healthy, dense turf actually helps to protect the Bay by filtering out pollutants and preventing soil erosion.

Please send us a question at Ask the Experts if you have a lawn question you would like answered. Digitial photos can be attached to your question.

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