What is Overseeding?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Overseeding is a lawn cultivation tactic which is designed to keep a lawn thick, healthy, and lush by adding new grass seeds. The young grass plants which germinate from these seeds will compensate for the death of older plants, reducing the risk of the development of a straggly, patchy lawn. One of the best times for overseeding is in early fall, although certain warm season grass cultivars should be overseeded in the spring, and it may need to take place on an annual basis in some regions of the world.

Grass clippings and other debris should be removed from the lawn prior to overseeding.
Grass clippings and other debris should be removed from the lawn prior to overseeding.

It's time to overseed a lawn when the lawn is starting to look a little bit tired. Thinning and bare patches may be emerging, the grass may be growing more slowly than it did in the past, and the lawn may have a slightly unkempt look despite routine mowing and other forms of care including dethatching, aeration, and fertilizing. It is a good idea to confirm that a disease process is not ongoing before overseeding; if the changes are rapid, it can indicate disease rather than the natural passage of time. Some gardeners also like to take a soil sample to determine which nutrients may be needed by the lawn before they overseed.

Overseeding is meant to compensate for the death of older plants.
Overseeding is meant to compensate for the death of older plants.

The overseeding process starts with mowing as low to the ground as possible, and then raking the soil. Raking removes clippings and other debris, and helps to break up the soil so that the grass seeds will be able to thrive. At this point, the lawn may look especially dire, as it is cropped so close to the ground. The goal is to ensure that the grass seeds fall on soil, where they can germinate, rather than on matted organic material and debris, which will inhibit germination.

Once the site is prepared, grass seed can be spread, and the lawn can be provided with supportive watering and fertilization to encourage the grass shoots to grow. They will be well established by winter, putting out a flush of lush new growth in the spring.

It is a good idea to use a blend of grasses when overseeding, as this will increase the hardiness of the lawn, in addition to creating more visual interest. Overseeding should not be performed if more than half of the lawn has become bare; in these cases, the entire lawn should be taken out and the site should be prepared for a fresh seeding or installation of sod.

Dethatching is a critical part of a healthy lawn, but it is often overlooked.
Dethatching is a critical part of a healthy lawn, but it is often overlooked.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


@hamje32 - It sounds like you knew what you were doing – great job.

One tip that I’d like to recommend is to overseed closer to the summer months, if you are overseeing grass that flourishes during that time.

For instance, I laid down some seed in the spring and barely saw it grow, despite frequent watering like the instructions said.

Then I laid down some seed in another area, near late May, the season when the grass grew like weeds, and the new grass flourished very quickly. I didn’t even have to water as much.

So your best bet is to find out what season your grass is really growing and seed near that time.


I decided to overseed my Bermuda lawn in areas where I had some patches. The thing is, I also had a bunch of weeds too, so I wanted to use some weed killer.

However, generally you’re not supposed to use weed killer if you’re planning to overseed, as it kills the new grass seed.

So here’s what I did. I selectively applied the weed killer and the new seed. I avoided the weed killer in the patches of grass I wanted to overseed. Instead, I just pulled up the weeds in those areas and raked vigorously, until the soil was properly aerated.

I then applied the weed killer in the other areas. It worked like a charm, and the grass grew fast.


I let my husband take care of the yard and the grass because he is much better about it than I am. If it was up to me, it would be lucky to get mowed on a regular basis.

He knows when to treat it with the right products, how often to fertilize it, and how close to the ground to cut the grass.

I know that he does fall overseeding in parts of the yard that need some extra help. He works hard at making sure our lawn looks nice and green.

He says by that by doing this in the fall, it gives the seeds a chance to get started in the fall and when spring comes, they will really be ready to take off.

I am glad he puts in this extra effort, because we really do have a nice looking lawn that he gets a lot of compliments on.


We have an area of our lawn that seems to get flooded out almost every spring. This part of our lawn is the lowest part of the whole yard, and we always struggle to keep it looking like the rest of the yard.

It seems like we are always overseeding this grass so it blends in well with the rest of the yard. Because this is in the front yard instead of the back, it is important to keep it looking nice and uniform.

Overseeding usually does the trick, and we just get used to the idea that we need to do it every year.

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