As we inch closer to temperatures that are in the overseeding range, it’s important to be ready and prepared for the process.  I am going to draw out a step-by-step process for you today on how to overseed, and attach a short video on doing so.  I think everyone can have a successful lawn this winter, and next summer if you follow these instructions.  A thriving overseed can be accomplished when the nighttime temperatures are in the 60’s, high quality seed is used, and you don’t get too aggressive with the scalping of the lawn.

One week before you’re ready to overseed, increase the height of your lawn by 30-40 percent.  This is giving you more leaf tissue and open up the grass for the seed to get into the plant. 

1) You will want to rent a verticut and set it at the 1/2 to ¾ depth.  Take out the thatch and dead material until you are left with approximately ½” of thatch.  If you have any more than this it harbors insects, impedes water and fertilizer penetration.    If you have a huge thatch buildup you have probably had some watering issues this summer and that directly impacted your drought tolerance. 

2) Next you will lower your mowing height one setting and scalp down the leaf tissue.  You are not trying to scalp the grass down to the ground because this will result in a poor stand of grass for next year.  You want to save some of the energy of the plant so it can come back strong in the spring.  You will drop the height one more setting so you are just below your mowing height from a week ago and get a second scalp on the lawn to clean it up.  This often results in the closing of the turf canopy and a second vertical cut is often necessary to open the grass plant back up.  Once you have made the second vertical cut, mow up all the clippings and blow off any excess material from the grass.  You lawn should have an open canopy so the seed can fall down into the thatch layer.

3) After the lawn has been cleaned up and the yard is clear, it is time to add your starter fertilizer.  I recommend using a 15-5-5 or 6-20-20.  You can find these at most places and they are applied at 5 pounds per 1000 SF.

4) Get your perennial rye seed out (BOBSeed in AZ!) and have your spreader calibrated to drop 8-10 pounds of seed per 1000 SF.  You will start with the perimeter of the lawn and drop the seed at a ½ rate two directions.  I advise having someone follow you while you seed with some paint and mark out where the seed has fallen so you don’t overlap or miss an area.  After the edges are complete you will then switch to your rotary spreader and seed the middle of the yard at ½ rate two directions.  Again the total rate is 8-10 pounds per 1000 SF so you will be putting out 4-5 pounds at a time.  This ensures the grass comes up in corn rows and you have not missed any areas. 

5) Turn on your water for 3-4 cycles per day for 5-7 minutes.  You are just trying to keep the seed moist throughout the day and free from drying out.  This will be the irrigation cycle for the first two weeks until the grass has grown up to an inch.  At this point you can gradually reduce some of the daily cycles and get it down to one long cycle early in the morning.

6) At the two week mark apply your second fertilizer.  I like to use a balanced fertilizer that will help keep the grass growing and the root system developing such as 15-15-15. 

7) You may be able to mow your grass before the second fertilizer application but if not, you will do it a couple days after it has worked itself into the soil.  This is a longer cut and you are just giving the grass a haircut.  Ideally this cut will be made to the grass in the afternoon when it has had a chance to dry down a little.

8 ) At the 4-6 week mark apply your third fertilizer application.  You want to do this before we receive our first frost which is generally right around Thanksgiving.  A good fertilizer in this situation is 21-7-14 or calcium nitrate 15.5-0-0. These will both get your grass growing and allow the ryegrass to start to tiller and get healthy.  If you wait till after the frost you will often lose color in your ryegrass and get yourself stuck behind the 8 ball.

9) You should be mowing 1-2 times per week after the lawn is established and gradually taking it to your desired mowing heights.

*** It is very important to use the right amount of seed.  I have seen several companies advertise that you can get 20,000 SF out of a 50 pound bag of seed.  If you read the directions on the back of the bag it clearly states this is for the northern states.  These labels can sometimes be confusing so be careful.    Make sure you are buying a high quality perennial ryegrass seed with a minimum of 96 percent germination and zero weed seed.*** 

As I said in my introduction, overseeding can be easy as long as instructions are followed and you don’t get overly aggressive during the scalping of your warm season grass.  I have attached a video for you to look at that has all the steps I just talked about.  You’ll be able to see why the height of the grass is not as important as having an open turf canopy.

 Check out my video here Mr. Wise Grass on Overseeding 

****TIP OF THE WEEK**** Check the seed bag very carefully before you buy it.  You don’t want to get stuck with filler or any weed seed.  I always suggest a minimum germination rate of 96 percent.

And now–College Football Week 2……

I could start here with the obvious and that would be Denard “Shoelace” Robinson, but I will wait and start with Boise State.  It could not have played out any better this week with Virginia Tech being handed a loss by James Madison killing any chance Boise State had of making the BCS game.  It’s not that I have a problem with the team because they are something special, it’s solely a problem with the schedule.  I know that no one wants to play them especially in the “Smurf Village,” so they should suck it up and call the big time schools for an away game only.  They are always trying to get a home-home series and very few big time programs are going to travel for the smaller stadium and revenue associated with playing them.

Let’s move to the PAC-10 where the clear favorite has to be the Ducks from Oregon.  Now I know they had a nice lightning delay to go into the office and look at film during the game, but boy did La Michael James turn it on afterwards. 

Sorry USC, your 3 point win over Virginia is not going to get any accolades this week and I have to agree with the drop in the rankings. 

I am not sure what to say to the Sun Devil fans except it definitely appears to be an up and down season.  You did get a win the other night versus the mighty Lumberjacks, but Wisconsin is coming for you next week and I would assume you will be watching film all week on where the line of scrimmage is so you don’t get anymore off side penalties. 

The Wildcats did what they were supposed to do and handled their business against the Citadel and now they will start to see some competition.  A pretty good showing for the PAC-10 all in all.

Okay lets to “Shoelace” Robinson who accounted for 502 total yards for the Wolverines and single handily put the Irish in their place.  The Wolverines have jumped up to #20 and #22 in the polls respectively and there is no reason for them not to be 5-0 going into the Michigan State game in a few weeks.

 I will leave off today with the Huskers of Nebraska.  We are inundated with Husker fans here in Arizona, but they really have no affiliation to them except it was once popular to wear a piece of corn on your head and root for the team that ran the triple option.  I think we all know that overalls and corn heads should have been outlawed years ago but how about their completely undeserved top 10 rating.   Let me see, you have beat the Vandals of Idaho and Western Kentucky.  Very impressive if you had a blue field and played in Idaho, but not impressive to the rest of the BCS schools.  So where does the high ranking come from???  Is it Tom Osborne crying again because they were once a national powerhouse and should be again?  Or is it that the sports writers just want them to be relevant again? As a member of WCT so pointed out, how can a team with all 2 and 3 star recruits be ranked in the preseason ahead of the team with 4 and 5 star recruits?  Did the 4 weeks of spring ball really turn them into 4 star players or does the media have a little bias?  We know the rankings shouldn’t ever come out before October because of these situations, but as with no playoffs, we just have to live with it. 

Have a good week and I hope stirred the pot with the Husker Nation.  Next week’s target?  Well we’ll just have to see…..

Please e-mail me your questions and comments by going to “Ask Jay” to the upper right side of this page. 

Until next time,