Overseeding help

bsteeves86July 16, 2011

Hello everyone, new homeowner here. I have been stalking this forum for a long time and have learned ALOT already. So here's what we got.

After moving in last summer we suffered a long and hot drought in the summer months. The lawn was already thin and stressed and this put it over the top. The lawn suffered and the result were numerous dead spots. The following spring invited many weeds, mainly creeping Charlie and violets. I spent most of he spring spraying and handweeding which has helped immensely. I am now suffering from complete bare patches as the Charlie choked out much of the grass. I have been feeding with Milorganite, mulch mowing, and watering deep and infrequently. This has really helped my existing lawn but it's still very thin and non existent in select spots.

I would really like to overseed but not sure what I should be doing now. In the very thin spots should I just kill everything and start over? Also will overseedig the thin spots help me fend off some of the Charlie and violets or does each and everyone need to be killed before Overseeding. I have about .65 acres so I will prob take two years to get this job done. My grass is a mix of fescue and zoysia. Selecting a grass to overseed with is a whole other issue. Any help or insight into my dilemma would be much appreciated. Thanks so much in advance.

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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

If you have plenty of sunlight (not under a tree canopy) then I like Kentucky bluegrass or a mix of KBG with fescue. Kentucky bluegrass is a sod forming grass where fescue is a bunch grass. Your current problem is the fescue died leaving you with nothing. Had you already had KBG, it would have spread to fill in. The zoysia should have done that but you can almost watch glaciers melt faster than zoysia spreading. Some of the Elite varieties of KBG are incredible looking.

Charlie and violets must be eradicated completely before you start putting real grass in. If not you are wasting seed.

I have lived in Dayton but never had to deal with Charlie or violets. Does it send out runners? If so there is a method of killing bindweed that might work for the other weeds. For bindweed you can dip a couple runners into a small jar (baby food) with undiluted Round Up in it. Let the runners sit in the jar for a few days and you might see large expanses of the weeds die. Bindweed has an intertwined root system. The Round Up seems to spread from root to root from taking it up on only one plant.

Thank you for doing your homework first. Making mistakes first really can be costly over the long run.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2011 at 10:31PM
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The Charlie is brutal to deal with. It grows on vines about two feet in length under the grass and the leaves grow straight up almost shading itself. There a few spots in my yard that are so dense with Charlie. I hAvent even botherd touching them yet because there is absolutely no grass to be saved there. I will use roundup when the time is appropriate. Should I do it now or wait?

What else should I be doing in preparation for Overseeding? There isn't much I can do besides hand pulling as the temps are too high here in my opinion.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2011 at 12:38AM
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Fescue and zoysia? Is that a common mix for NY? I've never dealt with zoysia, so can't say much about it, but I agree that whatever you do from here should include at least some KBG, and preferably >50%.

First, I'd send off a soil test ASAP. The lawn probably needs a good amount of amending. You could be getting your lime down now and trying to up the organic matter.

Second, decide what grass you ultimately want to have, whether a monostand, or a mixture. Then decide if you need to kill what you have.

How compacted is the soil? How long ago was the present lawn put in?

I've had violets in my lawn, but only the parts I neglected. Healthy grass will keep those out. They don't kill easily with round up though, or other herbicides, because they have a waxy coating. If possible, you might want to get those with a weed spud.

Creeping Charlie is reported to be tough to fight, but it's good you're staying after it.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2011 at 8:45AM
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The lawn is original to the house in 1972.
My guess is that it hasn't been overseeded hence the reason it's so thin. I will get some soil out to logan labs asap.

I would love to use kbg but I'm concerned about the shade. Tall trees border my property. Right now it's 9:30 and there is only a little sunlight poking through. How do I kno if I have enough sunlight?

My guess is the lawn compacted as well.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2011 at 9:32AM
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Any suggestions on what i should overseed with? I

    Bookmark   July 19, 2011 at 10:15PM
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I have to run so ill try and be quick and helpful at the same time.

1. Get rid of all weeds when it gets cooler. Use weed b gon, be patient and hit them every 5-7 days. It takes at least 2 weeks but works for what you mentioned. Keep on top of them.

2. Mow low one day then a few days later mow lower until you get the lawn nice and low. Get rid of any thatch and then throw down whatever seed you decide on. (This makes sure the seed contacts the soil, ive seen many neighbors pay people to Thatch and the gardeners have just thrown seed over dead grass and nothing grew at all!)

I did that last year and this year my lawn is fantastic. Good luck.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 1:01PM
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I would kill everything with roundup around the middle of august. Zoysia grass is a terrible choice in the notheast.
Around labor day I would aerate the lawn heavily and spread seed and fertilize.
if you getting 6 hours of sun a day use a sun and shade mix. If mostly shade, use a shade mix.
Knowing your zone would be helpful to all of us. Are you upstate NY or near New York city?

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 4:14PM
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I am located in Poughkeepsie, NY, about an hour and half north of NYC. I just went outside and took a picture of my grass. Before I do anything I want to confirm that it is indeed Zoysia grass. Does anyone know how to upload a picture here?


    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 5:33PM
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Paul helped me with posting a picture.
Go to the tree forum and in search type "shademaster locust".
The first post is my question.
Look for Paul's name, he sent me a link. Click on that

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 6:12PM
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brettn_10(4-5 Northern UT)

Unfortunately this forum makes uploading pictures and inserting all other html code much more difficult than it needs to be. I should really write a letter to those in charge, suggesting a much cleaner and easier way to arrange this site.

Anyway, to upload a picture within the post:

1) go to the website www.tinypic.com and upload the picture to the web for free
2) In the middle of the page you'll have various options for sharing the image.
3) DO NOT USE THE CODE FROM THE ONE THAT INDICATES THAT IT IS FOR FORUMS AND MESSAGE BOARDS! I know it is confusing, but this forum uses code that is more restrictive and hard to use. Hint Hint!!!
4) There are two different lines of code that you can use on that website

First, you can directly copy the entire line from the "HTML for Websites" option and simply paste it in the body of your post.


You can copy the line under "Direct Link for Layouts" and place it in the following format.

img src="pasted the line from the web host"

But you'll need to include the brackets in line with the rest of the code. If I do that here, then it'll convert that text to an image.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 7:31PM
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Here is my grass, the good portion anyways. I am pretty sure its zoysia and some sort of fescue but not positive. Any input would be much obliged!!

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 10:13PM
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dmoore66(6 NorthWest NJ)

Picture is blurry, but I am pretty sure this is nimblewill.
Search it on google.
If it is, roundup is the only way to go!

    Bookmark   July 21, 2011 at 3:59PM
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It's hard to tell. I'm not experience enough to determine if it's nimblewill

    Bookmark   July 21, 2011 at 10:26PM
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Ok well that is majorly disapointing. After looking this morning I can definitely confirm that it is nimblewill and it is pretty widespread in certain areas. This is beyond frustrating. I took really good care of my lawn season to try and bring it back from the brink and I got it looking pretty good in my opinion. At least its not all creepy charlie. To be honest I dont find the nimblewill to be that bad looking. So the big question is what do I do now?

I am really not up for killing my entire lawn and starting over. Would it be acceptable to do the lawn in sections say over a few years or is it a waste of time as the nimbelwill and charlie take over my newly renovated areas?

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 7:06AM
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Sygenta Tenacity is a selective herbicide designed for killing nimbleweed. I believe it is the only selective product out there that kills nimbleweed.

Here's the problem...Zoysia is sensitive to it.

Just something you could consider checking out, and if you want to chance it. I would be tempted to treat it like gly - at least there's a chance of saving your yard.

If you do spray Tenacity, I would recommend having a pro who has the proper equipment do it.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 8:48AM
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The thing is I am not even sure if its Zoysia. I think I was mistaking the nimblewill for Zoysia.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 9:02AM
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I know that Tenacity is labeled for sod farms and golf courses, but is it also labeled for home lawns?

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 9:08AM
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There is no restriction on it saying it's not - that I could find. ;) Products like Daconil are clearly labeled "NOT for use on home lawns".

I'm making no promises. :)

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 10:34AM
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dmoore66(6 NorthWest NJ)

My understanding is tenacity was approved by the epa this past april but is only available to licensed landscapers.
You really don't want zosia in your lawn either.
In NY it will be the first to go brown in the fall and last to green up in spring.
You could do half one year and the other half the next, but you would need some kind of barrier to prevent the weeds from invading your good grass.
It depends how much time and money you have to spend.
I would kill of the nimblewill with tenacity, aerate around labor day, overseed and fertilize.
Seed must be keep moist for a few weeks.
Or else, open a beer and enjoy your nimblewill.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 10:54AM
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Tenacity is available to the general public. You can buy it at Lesco or online at EH Griffith. You can spot treat nimbleweed with a simple tank sprayer. It is very low toxicity, so as long as you follow the directions you shouldn't have any problems.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 11:09AM
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Thanks everyone for the help. AFter much research I think I am going to go with 'American' KBG. I am going to use this in the areas I completely nuke with roundup and overseed the remainder of the lawn. Does anyone have any advice against this?

Also where do I find? Cant seem to find it online.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 4:02PM
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dmoore66(6 NorthWest NJ)

Maybe you should read about tenacity and what weeds it kills. Might be better than a total nuke job.
Check out EH Griffith web page.
Thanks tiemco for the info on tenacity!

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 4:14PM
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"Thanks everyone for the help. AFter much research I think I am going to go with 'American' KBG. I am going to use this in the areas I completely nuke with roundup and overseed the remainder of the lawn. Does anyone have any advice against this?
Also where do I find? Cant seem to find it online."

You should be looking for America KBG, not American. America is an older variety, has been around for at least 20 years, but apparently is such a good one that it continues to this day. From what I have read it is a fine bladed, dark green KBG, that has good disease tolerance, and good shade tolerance (good for KBG anyway). KBG needs at least 4 hours of direct sun to have a fighting chance, areas of less sun will probably struggle. There are more shade tolerant varieties out there, but if your yard gets less than 4 hours direct sun I would rethink KBG. If you get enough sun then my other concern is this. If your lawn is light to medium green, then the America might not blend well, and the bare areas will be obviously darker than the rest of the yard. Personally I think renovating is always better than overseeding a mediocre lawn. The amount of work is about the same, and you don't have to worry about the existing grass getting super long, or fungal problems that can arise from all the watering you are doing. Remember, you have to water 2-3 times per day everyday (if it's not raining) for at least 2 weeks, then you can taper off for the next two weeks.

Here's the tech sheet for America: http://www.pickseed.com/ECanada/techSheets/pdf/america_ts.pdf

    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 8:52AM
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I agree with what you are saying. How about choosing a blend with some kbg in it. There is a place 20 min from me called Agway that I have heard nothing but great things about. Here is a link to the different blends they have.

My only concern about renovation is the sheer size of the lawn.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 11:30AM
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    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 12:47PM
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Ok so I have spent some time nuking the part of my yard I want to re-do. There are some big bald spots. The soil is extremely hard and dry. I just checked the ph level and it's 8.2. From here I would like to aerate, rake, and then spread seed around sept 1. What else should be doing now? Should I continue to nuke the really bad areas or will the aeration and rake take care if the rest?

    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 2:18PM
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I have trouble with most prepackaged seed mixes. Without seeing what cultivars are in those mixes I can't give a good opinion on them. Tall fescue/KBG blends can give you a very nice lawn. Where in NY are you? A pH that high can mean a few things. It's incorrect. Who did the test? Most soils in the east are acidic, and if they are basic it is not above 8. It can happen however. If the previous owners limed every year for twenty years, then you can have that level. If your local soil is full of limestone, your pH can be high. If your soil is high in magnesium, then your soil can be very tight. Most high pH soils are high in magnesium or calcium, or both. You might want to consider a soil test at a reputable lab to see what is really going on in your soil. At that pH the nutrients are much less available to your grass.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 2:35PM
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My brother who is a lanscaper used an electronic gauge to take the test. I am located in Poughkeepsie ny.

In addition to the soil test what else should be doing now to get ready for September? The area that I have been nuking consists mainly of violets, creeping charlie, and nimblewill. I have been digging up the violets, spraying roundup and pulling the nimblewill. The soil is so hard that it seems everything rips off in sheets.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 2:58PM
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Tiemco I have read your renovation post, man am I JEALOUS, absolutely gorgeous. I have read it nearly 50x. I am going to copycat what you did and hopefully get decent results.

The only thing I am nervous about is what I should I should be putting down after I roundup. After everything is killed should I be putting topsoil down or compost or should I only put that down after I have removed all of the dead stuff. Also will the seed take if the ground is really hard? Should I be watering frequently to soften everything up? Maybe it's rock hard Bc of the dry spell we have had?

    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 10:37PM
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Thanks, it's a lot of fun to do a renovation, even though you worry about it every day for at least a month. If you haven't already sent out that soil test, you need to do it today. Get the basic test at Logan Labs, www.loganlabs.com. I suspect your magnesium levels are high, which will give you a very hard soil during periods of little rain. I am also betting your organic matter levels are low. If you don't get any rain, you should be watering for a few days prior to round up. Round up works best when plants are actively growing and watering will ensure this. Watering after round up will help it work too, but not too soon, give it 24 hours. As long as your soil is wet, it should be softer, and more receptive to grass. I would probably put down either good, weed free compost, or Milorganite ASAP. Both are a source of Organic matter. Of the two Milorganite is cheaper and easier to spread. It will smell a bit however, but it's good stuff. If you water it regularly it will breakdown faster. Here is an outline for you:

1. Soil test ASAP
2: Milorganite/Compost down after taking soil samples.
3. Irrigate yard so everything is green and growing.
4. Round-up yard.
5. Continue to irrigate if needed.
6. Round up again one to two weeks after first application on anything green.
7. Power rake yard to remove all thatch and loosen top inch of soil. Cut grass with bag as low as possible.
8. Apply good weed free top soil or compost (optional)
9. Roll with water filled roller.

  1. Seed area with correct amount of seed and roll again.
  2. Topdress with 1/8 to 1/4 inch of top soil, or peat moss. Peat moss is cheaper and easier to deal with and it's acidic. Your boogers will be black/brown after this. This step is also optional but I think it helps. You can also top dress with shredded straw which helps stablize the soil and retain moisture. Again optional but helps with slopes and hills where runoff might be a problem.
  3. Apply 1/2 rate of starter fertilizer.
  4. Water 3 times a day to keep the seed bed moist. You don't want to see puddling. After germination you will be able to scale back watering to 2 times a day, then once a day.
  5. Mow grass when it gets to 3 inches.
  6. Apply 1/2 dose of starter after second mowing.

This outline is very basic, and somewhat flexible. The most important part is to keep the seed bed moist for at least 14 days. KBG is a slow germinater and grower, so be patient with it. If you use KBG I would probably try to get the seeds down Aug 15-22. For TTTF or PR you can wait till Sept 1-15.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 12:19PM
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That is awesome! Thanks so much for your help. I put milorganite down about two weeks ago but will look to do another application ASAP. Soil Test should be on a FedEx truck as we speak.

One last question. Would you happen to know of a good shade/sunny mix I can purchase online? The middle of my yard gets full sun, however, the borders are shady.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 1:36PM
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How much shade are we talking about? No direct sun means no grass. 3-4 hours of direct sun, most TTTF will do fine. 4-6 hours direct sun, shade tolerant KBG will be OK. If you are doing a renovation, what are you planning on using? Straight KBG, KBG/TTTF, TTTF, something else?

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 6:41PM
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I was hoping to use a blend of tttf and kbg. I don't plan on renovating the perimeter of my yard as it's complete shade and have accepted that grass won't grow there. Eventually I would like to plant some nice hostas. The areas I will be seeding are very sunny. By 10 am my entire yard is full sun. Some parts are full sun by 8 am.

As for seed selection I am lost.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 9:34PM
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Tiemco, the more I think about it I kind of think going the route you did may be best. This would give me till Sept 15ish to get my soil as best as I can get it. If I go the KBG route the clock is ticking and I dont know if I can get my soil as good as I would want it in time. Would the mix you chose be a good fit for my lawn? Also, where did you order it?

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 7:02AM
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Might want to check out eco-lawn from wildflower farms. Does well in shade or sun, will be a little harder to get established but once you do, it's a pretty awesome lawn. Little mowing, little watering and it's a nice soft dark green.

Here is a link that might be useful: Eco-Lawn

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 9:39AM
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@ bsteeves86: Keep in mind that you will want to continue improving your soil condition long after your grass has become established. It is an ongoing process. Don't let the soil condition at the optimum seeding time be a limiting factor for you.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 10:34AM
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dmoore66(6 NorthWest NJ)

How does one go about improving your soil condition when your lawn is fully established

    Bookmark   July 29, 2011 at 7:24AM
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