How to over-seed a lawn

How to over-seed a lawn

Do you want to prevent your lawn from thinning or maybe it has already thinned, and you want to revive it?

Bare spots

There are various reasons why there may be bare spots on your lawn. Lawns thin out over the winter. Too much foot traffic, or maybe there is a tree that blocks the sunlight, even pets and kids can make it look worn out too. 

For whatever the reason it is, we are here to supply you with tips and tricks on how to prevent your lawn from thinning and how to bring back your beautiful and lush green lawn without starting over from scratch – that is called over-seeding!

What is over-seeding?

Over-seeding is the process of planting grass seed to an existing lawn, without the need of removing the old turf and soil.

It is best done in early fall or late summer to help in the germination process of the new seed and to avoid the high chance of failure. Over-seeding is an effective way to address bare spots and to introduce new types of grass into your lawn. You can also over-seed if you want to incorporate shade seed in shady areas where you planted sunny seed.

Steps to over-seed a lawn

Mow lower

You should cut your existing grass at the lowest possible height, approximately two to two and a half inches is recommended.

This is to prevent existing grass and weeds from competing with the new seedlings for nutrients and let the seed get in contact with the soil. It will also keep the old turf from blocking the new seed in getting enough water and sunlight. Remember to bag the clippings when mowing.


You might have a lot of dead grass over the summer which can cause a thatch build up. Remove leaves, sticks, rocks and other debris from your lawn.

Dethatching is another step to open up your lawn for the new seeds by removing a layer of dead turfgrass tissue or organic material known as “thatch.” Thatch is bad for your grass as it prevents the water and nutrients from penetrating the grassroots.

Check your lawn, if the thatch is a half inch thick or more, then dethatching is needed. You can do this using a thatching rake or a dethatching machine for larger lawn. Gently rake your lawn, digging deep to penetrate the thatch and loosen it apart. Y

ou can then collect and remove dead grass or other thatch material to free up your lawn and have it ready for your new grass seeds. If you have bare spots, loosen it up a bit, rake it in so the seed will not wash off when you water or when it rains. You can also add a thin layer of  topsoil on bare spots or if your lawn has totally worn out so you can create a good foundation for your new seeds.

If you decide to do this, make sure to rake the lawn so the seeds can get in contact with the soil.

Core aerate

Core aeration is mechanically removing small plugs of thatch and soil from the lawn putting them up on top of the surface and letting them break down.

Core aeration is done to break down soil compaction and thatch build-up, to allow and improve the entry of air, water and fertilizer to better reach the roots zone, promote stronger grassroots, and improve the air exchange between the soil and the surrounding atmosphere. 

This will help to avoid having a brown and patchy lawn. This step is not really necessary but can really help speed up the process and increase germination. You can add this into the over-seeding process to also give you a lot better seedbed.

You can check if you need to add this step by doing the “screwdriver test.” Just take a screwdriver and try to stick it into the ground, if it goes easily into the ground, then aeration is not an essential for you. However, if you are having a hard time pushing it down, then core aeration is recommended.

Spread seed

Now that your lawn is ready, it is time to sow your grass seeds.

Choose the grass seed that is recommended in your regional climate. Use the right grass seed in the right area, whether it be for sunny, shady or high-traffic areas. If the area of application is just for bare spots, you can just spread the seeds using your bare hands on top of the topsoil you have added.

Again, make sure to rake it in to tamped the seed to the ground. If you are planning to over-seed your whole lawn or you have a large lawn, you can use a spreader. It is suggested to work when the air is calm for even seed distribution. Also, keep in mind to have the lightest application for over-seeding, check out the label for application rate.


After sowing your seeds, you have the option to fertilize your lawn. A starter fertilizer is best for newly planted seeds as it contains more phosphorus that will give boost to your new seeds and promote healthy grass root system to get them established.

Or you can wait three to five days before applying starter fertilizer to slow down the existing grass while waiting for the new seeds to grow before giving them an initial boost. This is totally up to you. Whatever you do however, never use a pre-emergent herbicide as it will also stop your new seeds from germinating.


Watering your newly over-seeded lawn is a vital step in any seeding project. Making sure that your new grass seeds will grow requires care and dedication.

Water your lawn with frequent, light waterings, at least two to three times a day, to keep your seeds and soil moist. You can do this early in the morning around six o’clock, at eleven AM, then at three to four in the afternoon.

It will also depend on how much sun or rain you get in your area. Watering should be just enough to keep the seeds and at least the top inch of the soil wet, do not go overboard. Once your grass begin growing, change your watering pattern to “deeply and less frequently” and start mowing.

In conclusion

Cut a little bit short, tidy up, core aerate if needed, fertilize and diligently water your lawn. A quick reminder as well to always remove fallen leaves on top of your lawn to keep it from covering your grass.

You just have acquired the knowledge on how to over-seed your existing lawn. With these steps, you are now ready to maintain your lawn or bring back the healthy, beautiful and lush green lawn of yours!

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