Overseeding lawn

(Question)

Hello,
I’m planning to overseed our lawn. It has quite a few bare spots from mismanagement and neglect. I’m planning to do the following:
1)Mow the lawn and collect the cuttings
2)Rake and dethatch.
3)Aerate
4)Apply top soil
5)Seed
6)Water
I’m hoping this is a good strategy. My questions are
1)Is it too early to do this? It’s still pretty chilly outside. Should I wait until a bit later into may?
2)What type of grass seeds should I get? My front lawn is mostly sunny but my back is shaded from trees. Should I just get a mix or actually seed different types of grass?

Thanks!

(Answer)

Wow, you have done your homework. Most of what you suggest are an appropriate approach to repairing a damaged lawn.the best time to do this is in the fall, as there is less competition from weed germination, and the soil temperatures are still warm. However, spring is the next best season, but timing is important, however. Going by your list:

1. the grass is not growing yet, so mowing can cause more damage than it solves. It can pull the thatch and existing grass right out of the ground, so go directly t:

2. rake and de-thatch. The winter was slow in leaving, and we are just getting the soil to drain and dry out. It may be too soggy yet to do this. If the ground feels spongy, it’s too wet to work on. Try to stay off the lawn, as every time we walk on it it compresses the soil, closing important air spaces that the newly growing roots depend on. Wait until the soil is no longer spongy to do this and to:

3. aerate. It is a good idea, especially for areas that are frequently walked on,as soil gets compacted. The frost leaving the soil does this naturally for you, and as noted, staying off the lawn while it’s spongy will allow these important air pockets to do their job.  Again, wait until the soil is no longer spongy.

4. apply top soil – it’s important to know that the topsoil you purchase is weed free. Who needs more weeds? If your soil is poor in organics, clean compost will add the nutrients it needs. This should be considered to mix with your topsoil.

5. Seed – grass seed won’t germinate while the weather is cool and wet. They will just sit there, feeding the sparrows, until the soil warms. So waiting is a good idea. In fact, the best time to seed the shady areas really is the fall, as the leaves from trees have started to fall, allowing more light to the ground, and the ground itself is still warm.

6. water – once seeded, regular, deep watering is important to the get grass growing. If your property is large enough, consider different seeds for the sunny area than the shady area. The following site from Ontario Agriculture and Food tells you what to use where, as well as rates of dispersal:

http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/facts/08-025w.htm

Mark Cullen is an expert in the field of grass growing, take a look at what he says:

http://mark-cullen.blogspot.ca/2010/08/101-tutorial-on-lawn-care.htm

I hope this helps