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overseeding a lawn in vancouver

Posted by dalans BC Canada (My Page) on
Fri, Jun 23, 06 at 14:54

Hi all,

My front yard is... a mess. The house is new to us, we just bought it last fall, and it looks like the last owners did not take good care of the yard. It had a weed problem (mostly dandelions and similar), and is not at all level. I took care of (most of) the weeds last year, but now I find myself with a lawn that has several bare patches, and a few pitted areas. Even the best parts are a bit shabby. It is not at the "vacant lot" look right now, but a few more years and I think it would definitely get there.

I do not want to go to the expense and waste of scraping it and putting in fresh sod. My plan is to core-aerate it, scrape up the bare and particularly thatchy patches, and put down grass seed (and topsoil where needed).

So I have two questions: first, does this plan make any sense? Second, am I too late to do it this season; should I wait until September? The yard is East-facing, so it gets the morning sun, but it is pretty shaded in the afternoon. Nevertheless, the weather is heating up and I am thinking I may have missed my opportunity - I was busy fixing up the backyard this Spring and the weeks got ahead of me :)

Thanks for your help!


p.s. as for seed - is the general grass seed at HD good enough, or do I need to spend more at a garden centre? Note that this is not a new lawn, but rather a somewhat major repair.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: overseeding a lawn in vancouver

I support your plans but would just add that you should spread a thin layer of good top soil ALL over the area, not just the patches and then reseed it all over the yard. Blend it that new grass with the old grass. Since this is an old yard, perhaps the soil has become compacted over the years and so aeration will be essential. The top soil spread, allows the new seeds to grow and revive the old grass as well.

But if the weather is too warm the seeds won't germinate, or even if it did, the young grass could whither up and die in the hot sun. So my advise for the seeding part - wait until Sept.

I like to seed late spring early summer and in the fall. If there are bare patches, I usually seed every 2 weeks until the grass looks lush once more. I like to aerate the grass often, using a pitchfork but an corer is much better. I usually spread a thin top layer of topsoil early in the season, mixed with builder's sand. My choice of fertilizer is simply cow or sheep manure mixed in well with the top soil. When I water the yard, I give small doses of watering. You'd be surprised how quickly a yard bounces back in a couple of months (as opposed to years) when you reseed.

For seed choices, I rather like Scotts but just about any grass seeds sold at HD works for me. I choose a mix sun/shade mix for my part shade backyard and a full sun mix for some areas in my front yard where I;ve kept grass patches.

And don't use fertilizers in the summer. It can only burn the roots.


RE: overseeding a lawn in vancouver

You'll have a much better result if you wait until late August or early September to do your overseeding. You can do it now if you're desperate, but you'll have to water really well, probably on a daily basis, and the results won't be what you might expect - weeds, as well as the grass seeds, are going to take advantage of the extra water and light.

There are a couple of things I'd add to what you plan to do - you may already know to do these things. When you do overseed, mow your existing lawn short - 1" to 1 1/2", and remove all the clippings (don't mulch). This allows more light to reach the germinating seeds and they'll establish better and faster.

There is a machine one can sometimes rent called an 'overseeder' - it cuts small grooves into the soil, allowing the seeds to have better contact with the soil. If you can find one, it might be worth it.

HD versus expensive garden centre will depend on how well stocked your HD is. When choosing your seed you want to pick a sort that has a mixture of two or more grasses in it. This allows for some diversification, which makes your lawn more tolerant to drought and bugs. Since you have a lot of shade, avoid mixtures with a lot of Kentucky Bluegrass - that needs a lot of sun. Fescues and perennial ryegrass are your other main options. Consider also a mix containing clover - years of brainwashing by herbicide companies have convinced many of us that clover is a weed and not desired, but that view is falling by the wayside as we realize how much time, money and chemicals were needed to replace it. Clover is a nitrogen fixer, it will help provide for the grasses and it improves diversification (healthier lawn). Clover also remains green long after most other grasses succumb to heat and go dormant.

You might need or want to overseed for two or three years, if the existing lawn is really bad.


RE: overseeding a lawn in vancouver

Thanks everyone. I will let you know how things turn out in September!

RE: overseeding a lawn in vancouver

Overseeding is a good option if your lawn is in relatively good condition and is just too thin, or has spots where there is no grass. The lawn needs to be cut very short first, raked thoroughly (to remove thatch, as seed will not grow in thatch) and then aerated to ensure the grass seed has a great opportunity to take root.
Overseeding is most successful done in the spring or the fall as the scorching sun is less likely to damage seedlings.

For more information about lawn care, or sodding, or overseeding check the link below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Highland Turf Farm - Serving Lower Mainland BC

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