Reseeding Your Lawn: 2014 Piedmont Edition


Cary, NC — Across the Carolina Piedmont, it’s been a cool summer, with temps never cracking 100° F this year. Lawns across town look better than ever. Does that mean you can skip reseeding this fall? Of course not.

Reseeding Your Lawn: 2014 Piedmont Edition

A September hot spell will give way to cooler weather. Now’s the time to reseed your lawn. It’s already prime-time to reseed – don’t let it wait until the end of the month.

1. Cut the Lawn Short & Bag It – Give your lawn a close haircut. Bag the grass clippings.

2. Rake It Off – After you’ve cut the grass (and bagged it), give a surface rake to the entire lawn. Try to get as much thatch – tangled mats of dead grass – off as you can. The idea is to expose the soil so the new seeds can make contact with the dirt.

3. Add Soil Amendments – Get a bag or two of gypsum to lighten up the soil and a bag of Lime as well. Lime “sweetens” the soil, bringing down the acidity or pH. You can use a seed broadcaster to distribute the lime and gypsum evenly over the lawn or just walk around flinging handfuls. The broadcaster is a lot less work.

4. Aerate – Few homeowners own a soil aerator. But the local garden supply stores will rent one to you. It looks a little like a tiller but has sharp tubes to punch holes in the soil instead of blades to chop it all up. Aerators are pretty frightening machines, big and powerful. Wear sturdy shoes and proper safety gear. Aerate your soil evenly across the lawn. One pass is adequate but two even better. If you are remaking your entire lawn, use a tiller and till the entire area finely.

5. Sow Your Seed – You need to use a seed broadcaster to ensure even distribution. A handheld broadcaster is inexpensive and will get the job done unless you have a very large property. Push broadcasters take less time to cover large areas. New lawns will need far more seed than existing lawns.

Ask at the garden store for the best type of fescue seed to buy for your individual conditions – how much sun, shade, water, slope. Scientists have engineered lots of kinds of fescue designed to cope with various lawn problems. You could even bring in a grass sample and they might be able to match it. In my lawn, there are several kinds of fescue all mixed together.

For bald patches, rough up the dirt a little bit, lay down the seed and then cover with hay straw.  

6. Watering – After seeding, you need to wet down the lawn so the seeds don’t blow away or wash away.. Since you’ve already deep watered, this is just a surface shpritz, like a gentle rain shower.  You’ll have to keep the surface damp for a week to ten days. Once you see the seeds sprouting, you can cut back to every other day, then every third day and so on until you get back to your normal routine.

7. Mowing – Finally, your new grass is growing tall. It’s time to give your new lawn a mowing. Use a bagger so the clipped grass doesn’t smother the new shoots. Avoid the patches you’ve fixed. The idea is to allow light and air to circulate without ripping out the new grass before it can grow strong roots. It’s a judgement call. I usually let my existing turf grow to about four inches before mowing a reseeded lawn. Depending upon the time of year, that can be three or four weeks after seeding.

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Photo by Johannes Gilger.


The Gardening column on CaryCitizen is sponsored by Garden Supply Company on Old Apex Road in Cary.