When a lawn is patchy and brown, you may be having trouble with air and water getting deep enough into the soil for it to be effective. Aerating your lawn, as well as overseeding it to promote grass growth, can turn a sickly lawn into a prize winner practically overnight.
Aerating is the process of removing small plugs of soil from your lawn to break up compacted soil and promote the proper drainage of water and the circulation of air throughout the soil. Compacted soil prevents roots from growing deep enough to withstand adverse weather conditions such as heat, drought and cold weather.
Aeration helps thatch, dead grass on the lawn, break down. This helps prevent thatch from choking off good grass in the lawn and keeps water form running off large areas, making puddles or creating drought-like conditions. Fertilizer, when applied to the lawn, is easily absorbed when the soil is properly aerated.
Aeration should be done at least once a growing season, preferably in the spring or in the fall. March, April or May in the spring, or September, October or November in the fall are the best times to aerate. Aeration can be done with specially designed aeration hand tools, like a rake with plug making spikes at the bottom, or with motorized aeration machines.
Overseeding is the process of working new grass seed into an established lawn. This can be done over dead or patchy grass to promote new growth and improve the appearance of a lawn.
Overseeding should be done only after the lawn has been properly aerated. Late summer or the early fall is the best time to overseed the lawn, to avoid the summer heat or drought that can kill the grass seed before it has had a chance to take hold. Weeds are less abundant during this time as well.
Watering your overseeding is important for the success of the new lawn. Water every day to about a one-inch depth. Once the seed has germinated, water according to the recommendations for the type of grass.