First things first, determine if you are overseeding to repair thin areas or to improve your overall stand of turf, or it is time to cut bait and start over? This will help you understand the rate of seed per 1,000 square feet.
The key here is not to exceed the recommended rate. While the “more is better rule” may apply to some life circumstances, it is definitely not the case with new seed. Higher than recommended rates can result in too many plants germinating per square foot, leading to an overcrowding situation with competition for food, water and light ending in few or none of the plants reaching maturity.
Also, when it comes to seed, choose the correct species for your region and specific growing conditions. Remember that seed-to-soil contact is critical and excess thatch can be a problem that should be managed. If the seed germinates in the thatch, it can rapidly dry, leading to seedling collapse.
Develop a Seed Management Strategy for Success
Source: DriveÒ XLR8 label
Now that the seed decision is made, develop a weed management strategy. There are several options for herbicides that are appropriate at the time of new establishment. This decision is based on the weeds that are present. If the primary weeds are both grassy and broadleaf, or perennial and annual, it might be best to take the glyphosate route. Roundup products and Ranger Pro can be used as a spot spray or broadcast spray immediately before seeding.
My recommendation is to wait at least seven days after application to make sure that the target weeds have died. That will allow for reapplication for the really tough ones. Aside from that, seeding can take place right after glyphosate applications with no detriment to the seed. The other bit of information is that glyphosate does not provide for any residual or preemergent control so some new weeds may emerge.
Another option is Quinclorac or Drive XLR8 from BASF, or Quintessential from Prime Source, along with many others. Quinclorac will do a great job of controlling weeds like white clover, dollarweed, black medic, speedwells and wild violet, along with some annual grassy weeds like crabgrass, foxtail and barnyard grass. While this label is not as broad as glyphosate, it does provide for 30 to 45 days of preemergent control of crabgrass. In many cases, quinclorac can be applied either just before or just after seeding but there are some exceptions. Be sure to read table 4 on the label to confirm whether it can be used on the type of turfgrasses you intend to establish.
Mesotrione, sold under the names Tenacity or MESO 4SC, is yet another option. Meso can be applied prior to or following seeding of approved species of turfgrasses with the exception of fine fescues. Also avoid applying to newly emerged grasses to prevent damage. Meso will postemergently control many weeds including chickweeds, clovers, crabgrasses, ground ivy, lawn burweed, Canada thistle and others. Meso also provides limited preemergent control of barnyard grass, crabgrasses, pigweeds several other key weeds. You can also get some Poa annua suppression with Meso, which can ruin any fall seeding project. Pylex—topramezone from BASF—will have many of the same capabilities as Tenacity.
Choose a Cover Material
Next consideration is the use of a cover material. In many situations, straw is chosen and this often is the case due to cost, ease of use or just some labor savings. While straw will help reduce some moisture loss, it may not be the best option. Peat moss is usually my cover of choice. There is some extra labor to spreading peat moss, but it also does not introduce the many grainy, grassy weeds that straw does. It will also do a better job of managing moisture loss. Additionally, certain markets sell Gro-Well seed cover.
Which Add-Ons Will You Use?
The last item(s) to consider are those add-on materials that will improve seed germination and enhance seedling survival. The most common material is a starter fertilizer. Phosphorus is the most important macronutrient for newly seeded or sodded lawns. Remember that phosphorus (P) is the second number of the fertilizer analysis and is the down portion of the “up, down, all around” saying.
P plays a key role in many processes throughout the plant but also is a large contributor to root development and growth. Many states that have phosphorus bans in place will allow applications during renovation and reseeding to greatly enhance establishment.
A few good examples of starter fertilizers are 18-24-12 or 5-20-10. They can be found in an EMPRO bag as well as many others. The application rate should be 1 pound of P per 1,000 square feet.
There are a few other materials that should be considered for optimum success during the seeding process.
EMPRO Kelp Complex
- Formulated with seaweed extracts, humic acid, amino acids and key nutrients
- Enhances nutrient uptake and microbial activity
- Increases carbohydrate storage for better stress tolerance
- Improves seedling establishment and resilience
EMPRO Soil Enhancer
- Promotes plant establishment and growth
- Spreadable granular carbon and humic acid supplement
Hydretain Rootzone Moisture Manager
- Maintains available moisture for accelerated seed germination
- Promotes more rapid seedling establishment
- Reduces drought cycles between irrigation
Hydretain Seed Research
If you’re interested in learning more about how applying Hydretain at seeding time impacts turfgrass establishment, read the results of a study conducted by the University of Illinois.
Lean on Ewing for Overseed and Reseeding Success
Don’t hesitate when offering seeding services to your clients to suggest other co-product offerings to optimize any seeding operation.
Feel free to contact myself or Pat Gross, Ewing’s Tech Team with additional seed or turf-care questions. Email me at email@example.com or call/text 480-669-8791. Email Pat at firstname.lastname@example.org or call/text 714-321-6101.