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Oversowing Lawn with Seed

A lush, verdant lawn sets off the garden and the home but after a long hot summer, most are looking a bit worse for wear.  Bare areas from lots of foot traffic and dry patches from uneven reticulation begin to appear and for some with dogs, the brown spots on the lawn almost make it possible to play ‘dot to dot’.  These are all problems that can be quickly repaired during a relaxed morning of gardening.

Brown and dead patches in lawn will soon turn into bare patches where the soil is exposed and the lawn doesn’t grow.  Running lawns may regenerate back into these spaces if a good quality loam with some fertiliser added is spread over it but if left for too long, the first thing that will appear will be the weeds.  Bare patches in lawn are perfect for weeds as they receive regular applications of water and don’t have to compete with other plants.

Over-sowing with a good quality lawn seed is the easiest and quickest way to cover a dead patch and prevent weeds.  If the lawn is thick and strong, the weeds just don’t have any space to get a foothold.  Although over-sowing can be done all year round, in WA it is far more effective to do it in the cooler months when heat and water is not as much of an issue so from autumn through to early spring is perfect.

If over-sowing an existing but patchy lawn, mow it as close as possible before beginning.  Then, use the hard tines of a garden rake to roughen the top few centimetres of soil and remove any dead growth or fallen leaves.   If the soil is very hard, it may also be worth using a garden fork every few centimetres to loosen it.

As with most products, there are good lawn repair seeds and better lawn repair seeds.  The best to buy is one that contains three things – lawn seed, lawn fertiliser with trace elements and a wetting agent.  These have everything that is needed without having to buy other products to ensure a great result.  In general, a 2kg pack will cover an area of up to 40m² but any that is unused can be stored for future bare patches.

Pour the lawn repair mix into a bucket and mix it thoroughly then, for small patches, broadcast the seed by hand using a cross hatch pattern to ensure an even coverage.  If the area is near garden beds, apply the seed to the edge of the lawn first and then work back into the lawn.  Hand-held and pusher fertiliser spreaders can also be used for large areas.

Seed must have good contact with the moist soil around it otherwise it just won’t germinate so a 1cm layer of sandy loam needs to be broadcast over the top.  Use the back of the rake to spread this evenly.  This will settle around each seed and not only ensure good contact for better germination but will also reduce the chances of it being stolen by birds and ants.  If necessary, put up a temporary fence or rope the area off to keep cars, kids and pets from stomping all over it.

Saturate the area with a fine mist spray and keep it moist at all times.  If the soil is allowed to dry out after the seed has cracked open and the roots begin to appear, it will dry out and won’t germinate.

The seed should begin to germinate within 5 to 10 days producing a stubble of grass.  Mow the grass when it is 8 to 10cm high but removing only 2cm off the top until it begins to thicken.  After 6 weeks, fertilise with a lawn fertiliser to help push it along again.

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