How to Overseed a Thin Lawn (2024)

Reinvigorate Your Lawn

Is your lawn looking weak and thin? Overseeding can help you get back to the thick, lush, green lawn you've always wanted. By spreading grass seed over your existing lawn, you can thicken up the thin areas, and your lawn will start to look terrific again. (This is different from reseeding, which is when you start over and plant a completely new lawn.)

When to Overseed

In the North, the best time to overseed your lawn is in the fall, when the soil is still warm but the air is cooler, and there are fewer weeds for new grass to compete against. Since your trees are starting to shed their leaves, there's plenty of sunlight.However, if you are unable to overseed the lawn in the fall, your next best time is the spring. If you live in the South, the best time for overseedingis late spring through mid-summer, since warm-season grasses need warmer soil temperatures to germinate.

Why Overseed?

Over time, grass gets old and needs to be replaced. Worn-out lawns invite weeds. Overseeding is a fast, inexpensive way to help bring your lawn back to its lush, green self without tearing everything out and starting over.

1. Mow Low

Before overseeding your thin lawn, cut your grass shorter than normal and bag the clippings. After mowing, rake the lawn to help loosen the top layer of soil and remove any dead grass and debris. This will give the grass seed easy access to the soil so it can root more easily after germinating.

2. Choose a Grass Seed

Which type of grass seed you choose depends on your existing grass type. If your lawn consists of cool-season grasses, choose a product specially designed to thicken thin lawns, like Scotts® Turf Builder® Thick'R Lawn™, which combines grass seed, fertilizer, and a soil improver into an easy-to-use product you apply with a spreader. If your lawn has a warm-season grassor you are unsure of the best grass for your area, the people at your neighborhood garden center can help you choose the right Scotts® Turf Builder® Grass Seed Mix for your lawn. If you don't know what type of grass you have, consult our Identify Your Grass article.

3. Improve the Soil

If you're using grass seed to overseed your lawn instead of Scotts® Turf Builder® Thick'R Lawn™, it's a good idea to rake in a thin, 0.25-inch layerof enriched soil over your lawn to help the seed settle in. Don't put so much down that you kill your existing grass; less than a quarter of an inch is plenty. Scotts® Turf Builder® LawnSoil™works well for this purpose.

4. Spread the Seed

You've cut the lawn short, raked it, and removed any debris. Now comes the easiestpart of the overseeding process:Just fill up your spreader, adjust the setting according to the label directions, and apply. Don't have a spreader yet? The Scotts® Whirl™ Hand-Powered Spreader is an excellent choice for small lawns—it's simple to use and spreads product quite smoothly. For larger lawns, check out How to Choose Lawn Products and Spreaders for the best spreader recommendation for your yard.

5. Feed and Water

To give your new grass seedlings the essential nutrients they need for fast growth, apply Scotts® Turf Builder® Starter® Food for New Grass after you've spread the grass seed. (No need to do this with Scotts® Turf Builder® Thick'R Lawn™since it already contains a fertilizer.) Afterward, no matter which product you used to overseed, be sure to keep the soil consistently moist by lightly watering once or twice a day until the seedlings have reached the height of the rest of your lawn.

How to Overseed a Thin Lawn (2024)

FAQs

How to Overseed a Thin Lawn? ›

Can I Just Throw Grass Seed on Bare Spots? Throwing grass seed onto bare spots will result in little-to-no germination and will not help to repair lawn spots. If you want to fix patches on grass, you need to properly prepare the bare spots before laying down the seed.

How do you seed a thin lawn? ›

Overseeding is a fast, inexpensive way to help bring your lawn back to its lush, green self without tearing everything out and starting over.
  1. Mow Low. Before overseeding your thin lawn, cut your grass shorter than normal and bag the clippings. ...
  2. Choose a Grass Seed. ...
  3. Improve the Soil. ...
  4. Spread the Seed. ...
  5. Feed and Water.

Can I just throw grass seed on bare spots? ›

Can I Just Throw Grass Seed on Bare Spots? Throwing grass seed onto bare spots will result in little-to-no germination and will not help to repair lawn spots. If you want to fix patches on grass, you need to properly prepare the bare spots before laying down the seed.

Can I just throw grass seed down on an existing lawn? ›

Will grass seed grow if you just throw it on the ground? Definitely yes! Hand-sowing is the simplest method if you only need to cover a few spots. Take a handful of seeds and spread them over the dead patch, or better yet, involve your kids and introduce them to some basic gardening chores.

Can you just sprinkle grass seed on a lawn? ›

If you simply toss the grass seed onto the soil, you will end up with poor germination. Thoroughly rake the area to remove any loose debris and to create grooves in the soil. These grooves will help increase the seed-to-soil contact that is imperative for germination.

How to fix a thin lawn? ›

Fertilize in spring when temperatures are above 55 degrees Fahrenheit and grass growth has resumed. A mid-summer and early fall fertilizer treatment can also lead to healthier growth. You have two main options for repairing a thin lawn: overseeding or sod installation.

What to put down when overseeding? ›

Enriched topsoil is a mixture of nutrient-rich compost and soil that will help the new grass grow quicker and thicker. Use a fertilizer spreader to add a layer of the topsoil about 1/4 inch thick on top of your existing grass. Note: Some grass seed mixtures already include topsoil.

How do you prepare the ground for overseeding? ›

Prepare Your Lawn For Reseeding
  1. Be sure to pick grass seed that matches the grass type in your lawn. ...
  2. Test the soil to find out if it's missing any key nutrients, or if the pH is off balance. ...
  3. Mow the lawn prior to overseeding.
  4. Water the lawn to moisten the soil, but make sure it's not soaking wet.
Sep 26, 2019

How to overseed a lawn without aerating? ›

Homeowners often wonder how to overseed lawn without aerating, and if it's a good idea. The answer is that you can overseed effectively without aerating. As we've just mentioned, it's all about seed-to-soil contact. You can get good results without aerating by simply clearing and raking the soil before applying seed.

What happens if you don't rake in grass seed? ›

Raking is necessary because the seeds need to come in contact with the soil to germinate properly. Grass seed is typically spread on the lawn using a Jonathan Green Deluxe Broadcast Spreader and this does not ensure good contact between seed and soil.

Does putting grass clippings on bare spots help grass grow? ›

Grass clippings contain nutrients and can help enrich the soil of bare spots to prepare for new grass to grow. It also aids in moisture retention.

What happens if I put too much grass seed down? ›

Quality grass seed labels include guidance on optimal seeding rates to maximize your results. Don't overdo or cut corners. Too much grass seed causes undue competition for resources such as light, water and nutrients, and grass seedlings struggle as a result. Too little seed leaves lawns thin or bare.

Can I reseed over dead grass? ›

Seeding a dead lawn is effective but is also the slowest option. You will need to prepare the soil by removing the dead grass and then enriching the soil ahead of laying down new seeds. After the seeds are planted, you will need to fertilize and nurture your grass until it reaches maturity.

Should I aerate before overseeding? ›

Core aeration should always be performed before overseeding.

After core aeration, there will be many, small holes throughout your lawn. These conditions are perfect for overseeding. Overseeding directly after your lawn has been aerated allows the new seeds to fall and settle into the holes in your soil.

Does mixing toilet paper with grass seed work? ›

The biggest benefit to using toilet paper is that it's cheap, easy and quick. Additionally, the toilet paper will protect the grass seeds from scavenging birds and keep them suitably moist.

Should grass seed be raked into soil? ›

A healthy lawn starts with ensure the seed is securely in the soil. Use the back of a plastic rake or a hoe to gently work the seeds into the soil. “You're not pushing the seeds in,” Angelov explains.

How do you seed a bare lawn? ›

How to Seed a New or Existing Lawn
  1. Step 1: Prepare the Ground. Dig or till the ground to a 3-inch depth. ...
  2. Step 2: Add Nutrients. Add compost, topsoil and starter fertilizer and then work them into the soil.
  3. Step 4: Protect the Grass Seed. ...
  4. Step 5: Water the Seed. ...
  5. Step 6: Mow the New Grass and Control Weeds.

How to overseed a patchy lawn? ›

How to Repair a Thin Lawn by Overseeding
  1. Rake the area well, picking up any leaves and debris in the turf.
  2. Cast the seeds over the turf, and then spread about a half an inch of compost or topsoil on the lawn.
  3. To get good seed-to-soil contact, gently rake the seeds and soil into the grass.

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