Reseeding Lawns with Sod Quality Results

Four years ago when my lawn was newly sodded, it was very uniform with only one kind of grass. Now my lawn has become an irregular patchwork of different textures and colors of grass and other weeds. Is there some way to bring it back to its original beauty without tearing it up and resodding?

Lawns in the Pacific Northwest have a tendency to deteriorate over a few years as coarse wild grasses and weeds invade the lawn. Seeds of native grasses and weeds blow in from uncultivated or poorly maintained adjacent areas. Lawns become irregular and patchy with bare spots and a mixture of different textures of grass, weeds, moss and other invaders.

The best way to restore a deteriorated lawns consists of a 6 step process. 1. The existing lawn is sprayed with glyphosate or a combination weed killer which kills all the existing grass and weeds. 2. Then a week or so later, the lawn is scalp mowed to a height of ½ inch or less. 3. Seed is placed into contact with the soil so that it will sprout without being blown away or eaten by birds. 4. Fertilizer and/or lime/and or moss control is applied. 5. Soil is covered with a thin layer of compost or fine bark dust to retain moisture. 6. If rain is inadequate, the lawn is sprinkled lightly to keep the mulch layer moist for about 3 weeks.

Getting the seed into direct contact with the soil can be done in 2 ways. 1. A dethatching machine is adjusted so the blades or tines dig into the soil and loosen it or 2. An overseeding machine is used that will place the seed into the soil.

This process is much cheaper than resodding the lawn because the old lawn sod must first be removed and the soil tilled and leveled. Then the cost of sod and laying it in place is much more expensive than the cost of seed.

I have reseeded many lawns in Vancouver and Clark county with results that look as good as a resodded lawn in 8 weeks or less. The cost of reseeding is a fraction of the cost of resodding.


Allen Wilson

Allen has been writing about gardening for over 30 years. He is a retired professor of Horticulture.

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