Bermuda grass lawns become dormant and brown during cool winter weather. To maintain an attractive winter lawn, Bermuda grass lawns can be Overseeded with Annual Ryegrass or Perennial Ryegrass in October or early November.
The first step is to mow the lawn close to the soil line (mower set at 1 to 1-1/2 inch) and then rake off all of the clippings. Mow a second time and remove any remaining clippings. If the lawn has not been dethatched within the last three years, it would be advisable to do so between the first and second mowing. Aerating (coring) the lawn can also be done at this time.
Next, seed the lawn with one pound of annual ryegrass or perennial ryegrass per 100 square feet of lawn. Fertilize the entire area with Master Nursery Fall and Winter Feed and then cover with 1/8 to inch of Gold Rush or fine topsoil. (Annual Ryegrass is most economical but Perennial Ryegrass produces a higher quality lawn.) Finally, water thoroughly to force the seed, soil and fertilizer down between the Bermuda grass blades.
Water the lawn frequently to keep the seeds moist (once or twice per day) until the new grass is firmly rooted in the soil. When the ryegrass is established, mow to a height of 2 inches.
In the spring, to reestablish the permanent lawn, cut the lawn back as was done in the fall and fertilize. This will shock the winter grass and permit the Bermuda grass to reestablish itself.
Overseeding is also done when a lawn becomes sparse after removing weeds or due to poor care. Sometimes the lawn is overseeded just to thicken it up and make it look fuller. At this time, it is overseeded with the same type of grass seed as the existing lawn. One pound of seed for 100 square feet would not be excessive. The seed is then covered with one-quarter to one-half inch of a product such as Gold Rush. Follow the general directions for overseeding as described above.
If most of your lawn is in good condition with only a few troublesome spots, such as a weedy patch or a bare area, the entire lawn will not need replacing. You can patch the damaged area.
Before doing anything, figure out what has led to the damage, especially if it is a chronic spot and not one resulting from a one-time accident, such as spilling hot charcoals on the grass. Unless you correct the underlying cause, you’ll be faced with the same symptoms over and over again.
There are a number of possible reasons for bad patches in the lawn. Weedy spots could be due to soil compaction. Thin turf could result from shade or poor drainage or shallow watering. Heavy traffic or frequent use creates bare areas. A patch of dead yellow grass could result from fertilizer, herbicide or gasoline spills, insect damage, or animal urine.
To reduce compaction, aerate the soil. Trim trees and shrubs to let in more light or if that’s impractical, sow a shade-tolerant species to repair a thin turf. For fertilizer and other spills, flush the soil well with water. If all or most of the lawn is infested with weeds, is bare or very thin (more than one-quarter or one-half of the lawn without grass blades touching one another) you should consider replacing the lawn. Please refer to the Care Guide on Replacing Lawn.
If the lawn has an abundance of Moss and/or Baby Tears plants, there is a drainage problem which must be remedied. Once the problem has been corrected, the repair process can begin. First, prepare a good seed bed for the grass (even if you will be patching the area with sod).
Completely remove whatever grass or weed cover exists in the problem area. Then, square off the area to make patching more convenient. For best results, enlarge the area about 6 inches beyond the problem itself.
Next, prepare the soil thoroughly as if you were replanting a new lawn. Mix the soil with compost to a depth of 6 inches, removing any weed roots or Rhizomes or any other debris, such as rocks or tree roots.
Rake the soil to level it, and then water well.
To replant the patch with seed, sow at the recommended rate, apply Master Nursery Master Start then cover with a thin layer of soil or compost and firm the soil with foot or roller. Keep the soil moist until the seed germinates. If the damaged areas were caused by insects, spread Advanced Lawn Grub Control or beneficial Nematodes over the entire lawn. After the seed germinates, leave the grass unmowed until it passes its maximum recommended height (2-3 inches for Ryegrass or Fescue).
If you’re repairing the patch with sod, cut pieces of sod to match the area that you cut around the damage. (Make sure you allow for the soil depth of the sod when preparing the soil). Apply a starter fertilizer, such as Master Nursery Master Start. Lay the sod out over the area making sure to butt the ends of the pieces together. After the sod is laid out, roll a water-filled roller across it to ensure good contact between sod and soil. Water thoroughly. Keep moist for the first two weeks and carefully watch the edges for drying. Multiple waterings a day may be required.
If the lawn is uniformly thin all over, the problem is likely due to lack of sunlight or poor drainage. When those problems have been corrected (see above), the lawn can be reseeded.
Set the mower to cut the existing lawn to about 1 inch tall. Remove all the clippings. Rake the entire lawn area with a stiff, steel rake so that the exposed soil is roughened. Reseed the lawn with the same kind of seed as the existing lawn at the rate of one pound per 100 square feet. Spread Master Nursery Master Start at the rate of two pounds per 100 square feet over the entire area. Cover the area with 1/8 to 1/4 inch of Master Nursery Forest Blend or Gold Rush. Using a roller weighted with water; firm the seed, fertilizer and cover into the soil. Keep the seed moist until the new grass is established (water once or twice a day). With the mower set at 2 inches, mow the new grass when it is 3 inches tall.
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