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spring vs. fall overseeding

 
                                        
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I know the experts say that overseeding should be done in the fall, rather than the spring.  But my own experience seems to contradict this, and I'm wondering if I'm doing something wrong.

Last fall (mid September) I planted grass seed on some bare patches on my lawn. Watered for a couple of weeks, and it managed to sprout before winter, but didn't grow more than about 1/4 inch.  I assumed it went dormant and would pick up again this spring.

This spring (mid April) I planted more of the same grass seed on a couple of different bare patches, and again watered for a couple of weeks until it sprouted.

It's now a month after the spring overseeding.  The grass that I planted in the spring appears healthy and full.  It's at least as high and thick as the surrounding turf and it's even able to stand up to mowing.

Meanwhile, the stuff I planted last fall still looks like crap.  It's still only about 1/4 to 1/2 inch high and hasn't really taken off at all.

Did I do something wrong?  Should I have planted later/earlier in the fall?  Any ideas?

Thanks for all your advice.  I'm now entering my second summer following your guidance and the lawn is looking much healthier already.
 
paul wheaton
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Posts: 20501
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
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For fall planting it is usually best to plant early enough so that the grass is three to four inches high before going dormant for the winter.

Another thing is to look at the seed label - does it contain any annual grass?  If so, your annual grasses tend to germinate super fast and grow super fast and then die at the first frost.  Your perennial grasses do everything slower, but they last for decades.
 
                                        
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Thanks.  The seed is a mix of KBG and Tall Fescue (the compromise I settled on after your epic debate with Gerry).  No annual grass in there.

I guess I just planted too late in the Fall.  As a result it seems to be a total non-starter this spring.  It doesn't look dead (it's still green).  It's just not growing at all.
 
                            
Posts: 17
Location: Central New York
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Hey,

haven't been here for a while, but the lawn project I started last year has been coming along.  I have to say that after almost 1 year, the tall fescue is definitely for the cheap and lazy.  The kbg grass I planted looked real good at first, but even after added a bunch of fertilizer, twice, it just went brown.  On the other hand, the tall fescue I got (rebel 4) is nice, and dark green even in the spots where I didn't fertilize.  The only negative characteristic is that the blades are a bit wide, so if you get tall fescue, look into the seed your getting.  I know kentucky-31 is in most tall fescue mixes, but the stuff isn't that great.

I have a question about your lawn though.  Did you mix the bag before hand?  If not, the KBG probably rose to the top of the bag because the seed is less dense, and the spots you planted first may be mostly kbg.  If so, those spots might need more fertilizer.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 20501
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
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Good feedback on TF vs KBG.

TF is often used in playgrounds due to its durability.

 
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