Now that we’re into October it’s time to get the overseeding of your warm season grass process started.  I wanted to pass along some of the most frequently asked questions during this time of the year.

When is the best time to start overseeding?
Ideally overseeding should be done when nighttime temperatures are consistently in the 60’s. Usually this will be in October. There will be some higher and lower than normal temperatures, but anytime during October is good.

How low do I need to scalp the grass prior to seeding?
Height of cut isn’t as important as opening the turf canopy. The shorter you mow the grass, the tighter the turf canopy will be which will result in the need to verticut more aggressively. I recommend not going lower than ½”. There is no need to take the lawn to the dirt or you will cause long term problems to the grass plant.

Overseeded sod

This overseeded bermuda sod field in Scottsdale, Arizona, is READY!

I can’t find a verticut at any rental shops, are there any other alternatives?
A verticutter can be difficult to locate but if you call around the rental shops you can usually find one that carries a few. If you can’t find a verticut another option is a power rake. These are widely available and will also help thin out your grass prior to overseed.

I put a new lawn in this year, can I still overseed? If I can’t what other options do I have for a green lawn?
We don’t recommend overseeding your lawn the first year so it can establish a strong root system and come back in the spring without any competition. Now, if your lawn has been in for 100+ days it is okay to overseed this season. You won’t kill your lawn by overseeding the first year if it’s under 100 days but it won’t be as strong as a lawn that is left dormant.

Annual ryegrass is much cheaper than perennial ryegrass, is it okay to use?
Annual ryegrass does cost much less than perennial ryegrass but it’s not ideal for a winter overseed. If you use annual ryegrass expect a thinner grass blade and a slightly chlorotic look compared to perennial ryegrass. It will grow much taller and faster than perennial ryegrass resulting in more frequent mowing. Skip the cost savings and stick to perennial ryegrass for winter overseeding.

I have birds all over my yard, do I need to add more seed or mulch?
The birds are going to swoop in and take a certain amount of seed but there is no need to worry about coverage as long as you planted at a rate of 8-10 pounds per 1000 SF. Mulch doesn’t prevent birds from getting to the seed but it does help the seed germinate faster during cooler weather. If you seed in October there is no need to put mulch down since the temperatures are ideal.

How important is fertilizer?
Remember that when you plant seed you’re putting in a new lawn and a new lawn needs nutrients. Always put a starter fertilizer down with the seed and I highly suggest 1-2 fertilizer applications during the first month. You want your grass nice and healthy prior to the first frost in November.

My lawn has lots of weeds, can I put down a pre-emergent prior to seeding?
A pre-emergent herbicide needs to be applied 7-8 weeks prior to overseeding so it’s too late at this point. I suggest spraying the weeds prior with a post emergent and seeding a couple weeks later or waiting until the lawn is established after 30 days and then treating the weeds.

How long do I need to water after I seed?
All sprinkler systems will be different so I will give some generic advice by saying the important thing is to keep the seed wet. This usually consists of 3-4 cycles for around 5-10 minutes per cycle. You don’t want to have the water puddle and there is no need to saturate the ground. Simply keep the seed wet. Make sure you watch your sprinklers run the first couple cycles to check coverage and to keep it from puddling.

How do I choose the right seed to use?
When it comes to seed you don’t want to go with the cheap option. Seed can contain a variety of weed seeds, off types, and poor germination rates so be careful. I recommend a perennial ryegrass with zero percent weed seed, 90% or more germination, and very little inert matter.  In Arizona, we offer the same ryegrass we use for overseeding our sod in Arizona for $89.99 per 50 lb. bag.

Can I buy the same seed you use on the farm?
In Arizona, yes. We sell the same seed we overseed our fields with at our farm in Scottsdale. You can call our office at 1-888-893-8873 to order.

Can I buy overseeded sod?
Yes. Currently in Arizona it will be available on October 12th and California overseeded sod will be ready October 26th.

If you have questions I haven’t covered please let me know.  Hit the “Ask Jay” button at the top right.  We also have some info on our website here.

Happy overseeding!