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Overseeding Tall Fescue

Tall fescue lawns that have become thin over the summer can be thickened up by overseeding during September. Start by mowing the grass short (2 to 2.5 inches) and removing the clippings. This will make it easier to achieve good seed to soil contact and increase the amount of light that will reach the young seedlings. Good seed to soil contact is vital if the overseeding is to be successful.

Verticutting: A verticut machine has solid vertical blades that can be set to cut furrows in the soil. It is best to go two different directions with the machine.

A slit seeder is a verticut machine with a seed hopper added so the soil prep and seeding process are combined.

A third option is to use a core aerator. These machines will punch holes in the soil and deposit the soil cores on the surface of the ground. Each hole produces an excellent environment for seed germination and growth. Make 2 to 4 passes with the core aerator to insure enough holes for the seed. Using a core aerator has the additional benefit of reducing the amount of watering needed to get the seed germinated and growing. Aeration also increases the water infiltration rate, decreases compaction and increases the amount of oxygen in the soil.

An organic fertilizer should then be applied to help the young seedlings along.

Seeding is the next step and is usually done with half the amount of seed used when working with bare ground. For Tall Fescue, the normal rate is 6 to 8 pounds per 1,000 square feet, and so the overseeding rate is 3 to 4 pounds per 1,000 square feet. This should be broadcast over the prepared area.

Water everything in and then keep the seeded area(s) constantly moist to ensure rapid germination. Frequent, light waterings should give way to deeper and more infrequent irrigation as seedlings become established.

Apply another round of organic fertilizer again 4 to 6 weeks after seeding to keep plants growing well and to build up food reserves.

Always purchase certified weed free blends of seed and make certain each cultivar grows well in our area. Our Turf Type Tall Fescue blend is particularly adapted for the Transition zone. With these newer varieties, you’ll find improved density, increased root mass and enhanced establishment. The blend features excellent resistance to a complex list of diseases including Brown Patch and Leaf Spot. In addition to excellent heat and drought tolerance, these varieties exhibit good wear resistance, early spring green up, fine leaved textured and dark green color that provides an exceptional turf under many applications. 

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Core Aeration is one of the most important aspects of any successful lawn care program, and a healthy root system is vital for an attractive lawn.  Aeration improves rooting and problem soils by allowing air into the soil, which will improve the health and vigor of your turf.  Core aeration:

  • Loosens compacted soil

  • Improves water infiltration

  • Increases air flow to the root system

  • Encourages new and deeper root growth

  • Breaks up and helps remove thatch 

  • Improves nutrient infiltration

  • Increases the health of turf, reducing pest and disease problems

It is recommended that you aerate your lawn at least once per year.

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