Can you reseed over dead sod?

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No matter how much effort we put in to our lawns, sometimes patches of your lawn will die. There are many reasons why this might have happened. One option to bring the lawn back to life is to reseed over dead sod. Is this a viable option? The answer is yes. By following the guide below, you can bring your lawn back to its best.

Reasons to reseed

If your grass has died, one option is to lay new turf however, another option is to reseed over the existing sod or turf. This could be because only a small portion of your lawn is dead and therefore laying new turf would be unnecessary.

Grass seed is much cheaper to buy than buying the equivalent amount of turf.

Reseeding a lawn is a much more straightforward and less messy process than laying new turf.

When to reseed over dead sod

To ensure a greater chance of success in replacing the dead grass in your lawn with healthy new grass, choosing the right time of year to perform the task is crucial.

The ideal time to reseed is in the early fall/autumn. This is because the weather is likely to be temperate and not too hot. The soil will be warm and the grass will be actively growing.

Best time to reseed is during the early fall/autumn.

The weeds won’t be as vigorous as what they would have been during spring and summer.

There will be a higher chance of rain than during summer which will help your seed stay damp and therefore germinate.

If it’s not possible to reseed in the early fall/autumn, the next best time is during mid-spring. Wait until the grass is actively growing.

Reseeding in the summer is difficult as the weather is usually too hot to allow the seeds to be kept damp. As weeds are actively growing, your seed will also be competing with surrounding weeds for resources. This is a contest that the weeds will ultimately win.

How to reseed over dead sod

First of all, cut the lawn very short. If your grass is long, first cut it using a high setting so that you only remove a third of the length. Cut the grass immediately again but this time on a much lower setting. Gradually lowering the height of the mowing will prevent the ripping out of the good grass.

Next perform a heavy scarification. Grass seed will not germinate if it is lying on dead grass. Performing a heavy scarification will ensure that the soil is exposed and the dead grass is removed.

Gently till the exposed soil with a garden hoe to loosen top layer which will create little crevices for the seed to lay into a germinate properly.

Apply a lawn starter fertiliser to help the new grass get the best start to life. Some grass seed comes coated in its own starter fertiliser. Check the packet to see if your grass seed comes with a starter fertiliser.

Next, sew your grass seed either by hand or with a mechanical spreader (depending on how big an area you are spreading). Don’t be afraid to put more grass seed down than what you think you will need. Not all of the grass seed will germinate and because the seed is relatively cheap, throw more of it down to compensate for the seed that won’t germinate.

Next, sprinkle a small amount of top soil over the seed. This layer should only be a few millimetres thick. Try to imagine that you are dusting the new seed with top soil.

If the area(s) that you are reseeding are small, use Miracle Gro Patch Magic instead. This comes with its own blend of seeds, fertiliser and soil mixture to help the germination process. The growing medium helps to keep the seed damp. Seed germination is exceptionally quick with this product.

Again, gently till the soil and seeds again with a garden hoe to ensure that the seed is in contact with the soil.

Next, firm the seed into the ground and growing medium by walking over it gently.

To prevent birds from eating the seeds cover the seeds with garden fleece. It will also increase the surface temperature and speed up germination. Once the seed has germinated, remove the fleece.

Keep the soil watered

Keep the reseeded areas damp to allow the seeds to germinate. In hot weather, this may mean daily watering. In exceptionally hot weather, the seeds may need watering twice a day. Read the instructions on the seed packet to see how long, this variety of grass seed usually takes to germinate.

The amount of water applied whilst watering should be kept light. Dousing the seeds in water may begin to wash the seed away and thus leave your lawn with bald spots.

If there are areas that haven’t been reseeded, do not over-water these as it may lead to a surge in growth. It’s advisable not to cut the surrounding grass while the seed is growing as you don’t want to disturb the seeds. If the surrounding grass is growing too fast due to the over-watering, it’s going to give you a difficult decision to make regarding the mowing.

Maintaining the grass

Once the seed has germinated and the grass is growing, reduce the amount and frequency of watering. Over-watering a lawn can cause other issues.

Don’t weed the lawn with a herbicide until the following spring if you reseeded in the autumn. Weed in the early autumn if you reseeded during the spring. Use the first growing season to completely concentrate on the growing of some nice healthy turf. Weeds can be dealt with later.

Don’t mow the lawn until the majority of the seed has germinated and the new grass blades are at least three inches long. Raise the height of the mower to prevent scalping the lawn.