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A very old post that might be helpful when seeding

Posted by bestlawn 6 (My Page) on
Wed, Aug 8, 07 at 1:02

I wrote this to the forum two or three ago in effort to help those who planted seed that fall. By the time I wrote it was already after the fact, but I thought I would repost....beforehand this time LOL. So, read it in the present tense, rather than the past tense as it was written. Hope it helps.

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I haven't been checking in very often the past week or two. I have been quite busy and miss you guys a lot. I've noticed several people are concerned with germination and hope to set your minds at ease somewhat if I can. I won't go too deeply into specifics because everything has already been covered over the summer months and besides, you've already sown your seeds.

Seeds need air, moisture, humidity, and then light. For all these reasons, I hope you trimmed back trees and shrubs prior to seeding. If you are overseeding, then mow the grass lower than usual, about 1-1.5 inches. Do this gradually over a 3-5 day period. They also need ideal temps, which is the reason late summer/early fall is the best time for seeding cool season grasses. Because temperature is something we cannot control, then it is fortunate the seeds will tolerate a variant range of degrees. You get the best germination when temps fall between 65 and 75, but 80 or 85 degree weather will not harm them. It's just likely they won't germinate as quickly and you'll irrigate for an extended period. So, the worst you have to look forward to is the water bill. That extended period may also include adding a sprinkling each day. Instead of 15-20 minutes twice a day, make it 3 times a day since warmer temps will cause them to dry faster.

Those who used a slit seeder, I hope you didn't set the machine to plant too deeply into the soil. I often stated no deeper than 1/2 inch. A.J. has stated 1/8 - 1/4 inch, which is most ideal. But absolutely no deeper than 1/2 inch.

If kept too wet, you lose your seeds to rot because they can't get enough oxygen. Not enough moisture and your seeds dry out. Your effort is only to keep the upper 1 inch of soil moist. If you experienced a heavy rainfall, then don't irrigate again until the soil has absorbed it all not letting it dry out, then resume keeping it moist.

Here is irrigation schedule for the new seeds. Begin at whatever week you are after seeding.
water 15-20 minutes twice a day for two weeks
water 20-30 minutes once a day for one week
water 30-45 minutes once a day every other day for one week
water 30-45 minutes once a day twice a week for one week
move into deep irrigation, increasing the time to provide 1 inch of water all over and decreasing the frequency to just once a week. If you have to move the sprinklers at any point, the new location also receives 1 inch.

Starting off, the schedule supplies roughly 1/4 inch of water, then increases that amount while decreasing frequency of application at the same time. Like practically everything that concerns lawn care, this schedule is a general guideline and should be modified to accommodate your specific conditions. It's best to modify rather than put off your seeding plans. The reason is that while you may think it's still too hot in your area for seeding, change of weather can be sudden and winter/frost might roll in faster than you expect. That poses an enormous problem that you can do nothing about. The new grass needs time to form adequate root systems to survive winter or you lose it for sure. The lengths of time should also be modified if you have an automatic sprinkler system since that will not take as long to provide adequate moisture. So, decrease amount of water (time) but maintain frequency as is. The tuna cans test is recommended. Another reason not to put off seeding is that fluctuating temps can be damaging in the early stages.

If you did not topdress then shame on you. The compost or peat moss would have served as an excellent medium in helping to keep the seeds moist and also helping to absorb too much moisture. Even a light layer of straw would have helped. Personally, I would still advise that you do it since the rains are going to come if they haven't already. Trying as best you can to stay off the grass, just fling'em, as BP would say. Only now, you have twice the added concern of not smothering your seeds/seedlings in making sure to apply not more than 1/4 inch.

If you didn't core aerate where compacted soil is an issue, then shame on you again. Standing water creates the same problems as mentioned above and will prevent rooting. Try using the Nitron or another liquid aerating product. Nitron also says it helps with germination. You can still use it if you did aerate. I read somewhere that honey accelerates germination and there are lawn honey products on the market.

Remember also, your seeds have a natural germination inhibitor. They don't want to germinate so if you didn't freeze or prime (pre-germinate) them beforehand, do your best to create optimum conditions now by keeping up with watering and by fertilizing. We know phosporous helps the seeds germinate faster among having other purposes. Many people subscribe to the idea of fertilizing 2 or 3 weeks after seeding, and that's okay. My personal opinion is they need the "P" ingredient to help with germination and then all the other nutrients are readily available as the seedlings emerge.

One other point
It's okay if you seeded heavily, meaning a pound or so more than the recommended rate. However, "the more, the better" is not the standard and will inhibit germination while creating fungus.

That's all I can think for now. Differing opinions are welcome and please help with any points I forgot to mention or did not know.

All-in-all, I doubt you have anything to worry about. Last year, I feared the worst and thought the birds and squirrels really cleaned me out. I mean the squirrels were digging holes looking for more seeds. I hated them for good month LOL. I overseeded after mowing the lawn down to about 1.5 inches. The entire fall, I saw nothing - no seed - no seedling - no growth - nothing - nada - zip. But oh boy, when spring hit I was very, very pleasantly amazed.

Good luck, all!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: A very old post that might be helpful when seeding

Great post bestlawn!!!!! Wow you have taught me so much. I have a follow up question. Could you elaborate on the "priming" of the seed by freezing? Ok I guess I have 2 questions LOL. Do you think it is best to apply the starter fertilizer when you sow the seeds?


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RE: A very old post that might be helpful when seeding

There are a few ways to prime/pre-germinate seeds and freezing is one of them. It's a process called stratifying, where the freezing will soften the layer(s) and to help break the dormancy/inhibitor layer so seeds germinate faster. You can store the seeds in the freezer until time to plant, but plant immediately after removing them. If you have opened the bag, seal it tightly before placing them in the freezer so moisture doesn't damage them. You store left over seeds in the fridge (not the freezer) until next spring if you want.

Phorphorus also aids in strong root development, and starter fertilizer is high in phosphorus.


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RE: A very old post that might be helpful when seeding

It sounds a little excessive everything you mentioned. I would think you were discribing how to plant a rare, exotic plant. I just throw the seed down at the proper rate add starter fertilizer, I'm glad to see your with me on getting the phosporus out with the seed. Beyond that I keep it moist until the seedling emerge and back off the watering. I see the mention of freezing seeds. What kind of seeds? I've never done this and I've never had a problem with germination. In a new seeding I would kill of existing grass, mow it at the lowest setting you can, go over it with a dethatching rake or a spiker, fill low spots, seed, fertilize, water and wait.


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RE: A very old post that might be helpful when seeding

Bestlawn,

Thank you for posting this, you reminded me to trim the overgrown Roses of Sharon and Lilacs on my property border before seeding - would have been impossible later without killing the seedlings. Got it done tonight, lots of new sun coming in already on those marginal areas.

And better still, I was able to shred most of the prunings in a crappy old MTD chipper/shredder that I got for free and fixed up recently. Nice feed for the compost piles...

Cheers,
Paul


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RE: A very old post that might be helpful when seeding

Quick question....

I plan on aerating, how many days prior to slit seeding should I do this? also, prior to slit seeding, how many days prior should I put down my starter fert?


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RE: A very old post that might be helpful when seeding

In your other thread, I linked you to the steps and admonished against trying to both core aerate and slit seed. Core aerating leaves cores of soil and grass all over the lawn. I'm not sure how practical it would be to drive a slit seeder over them. Another problem might be the seeds reaching the soil surrounding the cores. So for compacted soil issues, I suggested cheating by applying the Nitron product. Applying it on watering day before planting your seeds is probably best.

You will have to walk over the cores (still messy) in order to spread the seeds either with a broadcast spreader or drop spreader.

When to apply fertilizer is also in the link.


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RE: A very old post that might be helpful when seeding

My apologies,

I had posted this before I read my other thread. I dont mean to look like an idiot! Sometimes it just happens (ask my wife!)

thanks again Bestlawn, you dont even know how much you're knowledge has helped me!


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RE: A very old post that might be helpful when seeding

Another question I havnt seen anwsered:

I'll be slit-seeding my existing lawn with my new seed. Obviously my existing lawn will continue to grow, which will need to be cut. I'm assuming it would be detrimental to the new seedlings to roll over them with a mower to cut down their existing neighbors? how does one deal with this issue?

i also saw a mention of cutting the existing lawn as short as possible prior to the slit seeding. is this a practice that is widely accepted? from what i gather the theory is to weaken the existing grass so as not to compete "as much" with the new seedlings trying to grow?


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RE: A very old post that might be helpful when seeding

If you're seeding into an existing lawn, you want to scalp the existing lawn first--cut it as low as you can. This increases the chances of the seeds making contact with soil and also helps them get sunlight once they germinate. It also gives you more time before you need to mow. You'll need to wait to mow until your new grass is tall enough to survive the mowing, even if it means the existing grass will be longer than you'd like.


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RE: A very old post that might be helpful when seeding

understood!

thanks for the confirmation!


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RE: A very old post that might be helpful when seeding

To overseed your existing lawn, you have to mow down the grass in order to give the seeds and seedlings a chance at survival. Your intention where the old lawn is concerned determines how you mow it down - gradually or all at once. The theory you refer to is scalping it all at once in effort to weaken/stress the existing lawn if you want to try to get rid of it without killing it off with that "R" word stuff. Then, you'll manage for the new grass after established to try to further stress the old grass. This is theoretical and is not expected to be 100 percent effective.

However, if you want to overseed with as little damage to the existing lawn as possible, then mow it down gradually, not removing more than 1/3 at a time. Then lowering the height and raising it again should be a gradual process.

1. Get a soil test. Call your nearest county extension service for a test kit and sampling instructions. It will likely take two weeks for results. If you need to apply sulfur, lime, or any other amendment per test recommendation (that is not applied in Step 5), you can do it after seeding if you don't get results back in time.

2. Mow to within one and half inches, but mow it down gradually. Cut off 1/3 the grass blade and another 1/3 three or four days later. Repeat if necessary.

3. Rake it up

4. Core aerate or cheat and apply Nitron A-35 to relieve soil compaction.

5. Fertilize

6. Sow seeds (slit seeding is best)

7. Topdress 1/4 inch layer compost, peat moss, or clean straw (weed-free). (One cu. yard/1000 sqft).

8.
water 15-20 minutes twice a day for two weeks
water 20-30 minutes once a day for one week
water 30-45 minutes once a day every other day for one week
water 30-45 minutes once a day twice a week for one week
move into deep irrigation, increasing the time to provide 1 inch of water all over and decreasing the frequency to just once a week.

Starting off, the schedule supplies roughly 1/4 inch of water, then increases that amount while decreasing frequency of application at the same time. Like practically everything that concerns lawn care, this schedule is a general guideline and should be modified to accomodate your specific conditions. The lengths of time should be modified if you have an automatic sprinkler system since that will not take as long to provide adequate moisture. So, decrease amount of water (time) but maintain frequency as is. The tuna cans test is recommended. If it is still especially warm, you may want to irrigate 3 times a day (10-15 minutes if necessary) for that first couple weeks. Your objective is to keep the upper 1 inch of soil moist and not let the seeds dry out.

9. First mowing is when the new grass reaches two inches. However, the existing grass will be considerably taller, so you'll have to mow down gradually again to the point of mowing 1/3 off the new grass. You do want to get the new grass mowed early at this time in order to promote tillering. Then, you want to gradually raise the mowing height to desired length of 2.5 inches. Higher if you prefer.


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RE: A very old post that might be helpful when seeding

Bestlawn,

I've printed out your write up and taped it to my cabinet in my garage...(i should probably laminate it!)

With my existing lawn being cut down, it will be anywhere from 6-7" by the time the new seed gets to 2". I dont think it would be safe to use my riding mower over the new sprouts do you? seems a bit to much for the little guys. The thought of my push mower on 1 acre makes me sweat just thinking about it!


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RE: A very old post that might be helpful when seeding

BestLawn....

As the other poster said, even if you scalp your lawn, there is a chance that it will be like 6 inches high by the time the new seedlings are 2 inches high. Therefore, you would be doing a lot of damage to it if you then go in and mow at a height of 3.5 inches - or whatever the highest setting is on your mower.

Why not set it as high as it goes and mow every so often if the old grass gets up that high? Since the new grass would still be shorter, it wouldn't get cut. The only damage I see is from walking on it..........Interested in your feedback.


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RE: A very old post that might be helpful when seeding

Oh, the woes of overseeding, Tim. I'm still looking for that 95% hunk of a man who really wants to start from scratch :) Sectioning a more manageable portion might be a consideration though.

Rutgers, you can't say "the only damage." You have to consider there isn't really any more root than the shoot you see. Just a fraction of an inch can't be very well connected, and the centrifugal effect of the mower is rather forceful. The new growth is not to be walked on until it reaches mowing height - about 2 inches, slightly higher. You can take the chance and do what you have to do, but my advice can't change. If you do mow beforehand, I hope you'll hold off for at least a month.


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RE: A very old post that might be helpful when seeding

lol, bestlawn, you've got me in stiches over here.....

Believe me, i'll do a complete restart of the lawn one of these days. In my defense...I'm 25 with a newborn and a new wife in my new house. I still need to build the deck, paint the interior, hang all curtain rods, blinds etc etc. the wife gave me the no-go on my wonderful idea of killing my lawn in order to restart.

you should have seen the look she gave me when i told her what i wanted to do.....sigh...the 5% man lives on to see another day.


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RE: A very old post that might be helpful when seeding

Now I'm the one in stiches


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RE: A very old post that might be helpful when seeding

So, when to compost? Do you compost then slit seed, or slit seed and then topdress with compost?

Do I need to bag my clippings? I don't have a bagger and can't really think about investing another $300 for one.


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RE: A very old post that might be helpful when seeding

What are the thoughts on:
7. Topdress 1/4 inch layer compost, peat moss, or clean straw (weed-free). (One cu. yard/1000 sqft).

Can someone explain the pros and cons of each option listed under step 7? I am particularly interested in the differences between a layer of straw vrs the other two. Thanks.


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RE: A very old post that might be helpful when seeding

Just briefly.....
I like peat moss best as a growing medium, but compost is best for the soil. Straw is also a good organic matter for the soil but doesn't last as long in the soil as compost. Straw also doesn't provide the nutrients and organisms that compost does. It will look unsightly while decaying but is probably cheaper than compost.


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