Home Improvement | Remodeling | Home Repair || DIY & Pro :: Building Moxie

Tips for Watering the Lawn :: Overseeding and Watering Grass Seed

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If you’ve read my post on my visit to Oregon and the NexGen Research Center, you know, then, just how important conserving water is these days. If you’re a red-blooded American homeowner, however, you probably want a lush, green and good looking lawn.  Now, here’s the thing – To grow that healthy lawn and further to grow the grass that lives in and makes up your lawn – your grass needs, well, water – just like any other plant.  I’d say a lot in the beginning, but still good amounts as it matures.

In this article, I will cover: 1) The Role(s) Water Play in Lawn Care2) Addressing Root Causes of Trouble Lawn Areas & 3) The Process of Overseeding (in 8 Steps).

Steps for Overseeding a Lawn Area (Jump to any by clicking the link below):

  1. Mow Existing Grass Super Short
  2. Aerate (Cultivate | Till)
  3. Sweeten the Lawn with Lime (if Needed)
  4. Add Top Soil (if Needed)
  5. Spread Starter Fertilizer
  6. Spread and Incorporate Seed
  7. Cover with Straw (or other Mulch)
  8. Water – Keep the Area Moist

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Pennington Seed, who maintains NexGen, puts an amazing amount of effort into developing seed that can grow greener and live longer on less water. Take for example their newest Smart Seed -it is said to stay green up to three weeks without water. It requires up to 30 percent less water year after year.  A result of course of efforts at NexGen.

This, Smart Seed, is exactly the seed I selected to hit a shallow slope next to my house.

Addressing Troubled Lawn Areas

The two problems I’ve had with growing grass in this particular area: 1.) an abundant amount of shade (this area likely only gets about 2 to 3 hours of sun a day) and well, 2.) on a slope, it had been under attach with water runoff for a handful of years.

The area immediately above it was void of vegetation (because it sits under a large and shady decorative maple).  Anyone that knows anything about erosion, grade stabilization and runoff – knows, well – this is bad.  Last summer, though, I took it upon myself to plant under this tree.  And while it really hasn’t filled in quite as much as I would have hoped, the Vinca I planted is doing … okay.

That … and right up next to the porch in this area I had a gutter, but no downspout. This dumped water right down onto this slope as well.  I have since installed a new gutter, a downspout and a bonus 60 gallon rain barrel here … (I hope to post on this install soon). This rain barrel will come in handy as I need to water my-soon-to-be new little seed babies. (I posted to HomeTalk earlier in the week about it, installing a manufactured rain harvesting barrel.)

Water and Your Lawn

Beyond simple tips like watering in the morning or at night, planning around wind, as well as broom cleaning, there are many things we can do to help reduce water usage when watering the lawn. Some of which Pennington has provided me.

In addition, Pennington adds: By utilizing grass seed that requires less water, lawns are more resilient during periods of drought and easier to maintain (e.g. reduced time, energy and resources). Consider a pure bred, drought-tolerant seed, like Pennington Smart Seed.  The varieties in every bag were developed to help you establish a fuller, healthier and greener lawn, while efficiently using natural resources.

Additional Information: For more on the Importance of Water in Lawn Care, see this post from The Lawn Institute – WATERING ESTABLISHED LAWNS.

Watch Me Work – OverSeeding in 5 (okay 8) easy steps

1.) Mow Your Grass Tight – On the Lowest Setting

I mowed closely (on my mower’s lowest setting) then removed cut grass and leaves by raking.

2.) Aerate

I aerated the entire area working with a cultivator in established areas and using a thatcher in the bare spots to prepare the seedbed.

3.) Sweeten the Lawn with Lime (if Needed)

While I could have conducted a soil test, I chose (on the recommendation of my local garden center) to sweeten the soil with pulverized lime. (Alternatively, apply lime in stages beginning several weeks prior overseeding.)

4.) Add Enriched Top Soil (if Needed)

Because I had some low spots in this area, I added about a 1/4 yard of enriched top soil. (I added another 1/4 yard as I was sowing my seed below.)

5.) Add Starter Fertilizer

Using a broadcast spreader, I added Starter Fertilizer at the recommend rate.

6.) Spread Your Seed

I sowed my seed, spreading at the recommended (on the bag) rate, added a little more top soil and gently raked with the goal of covering (or bedding) the seed.  (The Smart Seed I used had a recommended planting depth of 1/4 of an inch.)

7.) Cover the Area with Straw or other Mulch

While I would have covered this area with a mulch (a (super) thin layer of straw in most cases), I ran short of time. I plan to circle back and fan lightly with grass clippings, harvested from other areas of the yard.

while grass clipping were used, a more formal mulch is recommended

8.) Keep the Planting Moist (i.e Watered)

Until seedlings are established, keep the lawn moist, then water as needed.  (For me, this meant – modifying an old garden hose and watering with water from my new rain barrel.)

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And that’s it for me … happy lawn caring and, well, happy Mother’s Day. For more on the basics of lawn care, please enjoy our Pinterest board :: Lawn Care 101. Cheers. ~jb

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