Should I overseed my lawn in the spring?

Maintaining a healthy lawn is a vital part of enhancing the curb appeal and the value of your property. But, maintaining a lawn in excellent condition is not an easy task, it requires regular care and maintenance. One crucial aspect of lawn care that homeowners can benefit from more often is overseeding. In this article, we will explore the benefits of overseeding and why it is essential for maintaining a healthy lawn.

Overseeding for weed Control

Overseeding is an effective method of weed control in lawns. It is particularly important in Ontario where pre-emergent herbicides have been banned, making seeding crucial to preventing weeds. By overseeding your lawn, the turfgrass can outcompete weeds by overwhelming them before they can establish. Reducing the chances of a weed invasion will require more than just overseeding but its effectiveness will greatly increase with frequency. More often than not, seeding is left until the lawn is already being worn down and taken over by weeds, this leads to frustration and heavy use of weed control that can be avoided.

Grass seed for Pest and Disease Resistance

Overseeding is an opportunity to select grass cultivars that have increased resistance to specific pests and diseases.  Fungal diseases like “brown patch” and “dollar spot” are common on residential lawns, and different varieties of grasses exhibit varying levels of resistance to these diseases.  Chinch bugs are another common problem in Ontario lawns. In Ontario fungicides and insecticides are mostly prohibited, so selecting grasses that can resist these common lawn problems is crucial.  By properly identifying these diseases and pest problems in your lawn you can choose an appropriate grass cultivar to overseed with.  Seeding is your first step to ensure your lawn remains healthy and problem free.
It should be pointed out that resistant grasses are specifically developed by turfgrass breeding programs intended for the professional market.  These grasses bred to resist specific disease strains are not available at box stores. Ultimately, it is best left to an expert in disease management to determine the right blend of seed for your lawn and subsequence pest management strategy.

Lawns and Soil Quality

Bare spots on lawns can lead to areas of the soil devoid of proper physical structure. This depletion of soil quality, makes it challenging for grass to re-establish once the soil is bare because lawns need rich, fertile soil to prosper. This contrasts many weeds that can pioneer disturbed soil or soils of almost any quality. Bare soil can become compacted, and crusted and have reduced water infiltration, impacting the overall grass growth. Bare spots in the lawn also create an opening for rapid-establishing weeds to grow, making it more difficult to maintain a healthy, weed-free lawn. Overseeding will fill in bare spots, improve soil quality and prevent unmanageable weed growth.

Ryegrass Replacement

Having ryegrass in your lawn is important to the diversity of your turf but unfortunately, ryegrass doesn’t live very long within a lawn.  Ryegrass will begin thinning out within 2-5 years and should be frequently replaced to maintain a diverse healthy lawn.  Lawns grown without a healthy mixture of grasses are susceptible to being wiped out by a single pest or pathogen, especially in Ontario where pesticides are highly regulated and not an option for most circumstances.  In extreme cases of low diversity, a disease can wipe out a significant portion of the lawn and you as a homeowner can do nothing but watch.
Because overseeding is vital for replacing ryegrass within the lawn, choosing lawn mixtures heavy in ryegrasses will not only replace old, withering grass but also germinate quickly producing a thick healthy turf in no time. Overseeding with an appropriate grass mixture cultivars helps to maintain a healthy, thick lawn by preventing a single insect or pathogen from devastating the entire stand of grass at once.

Shade Tolerant grasses

Overseeding will combat the annual decline of thinning, shaded lawn areas. Shaded lawns can experience reduced grass growth and density, because of their difficulty photosynthesizing, which ultimately leads to the thinning of the grass cover. Lower light conditions cannot support tightly packed grass blades and eventually, the lawn begins competing with itself. When this happens, the lawn sacrificices underperforming grass leaves to conserve energy expenditure for its survival. By selecting more shade-tolerant grass varieties for overseeding, you can increase the grass cover and counteract thinning, but in all likelihood, seeding annually will be necessary to replace ongoing turfgrass decline.

High Traffic Yards

Lawns with high foot traffic will experience a higher degree of wear and tear, leading to bare spots, soil compaction, and reduced grass cover. Overseeding is then needed to replenish the damaged areas, improve soil quality, and maintain optimal grass density. Lawns with high traffic need frequent overseeding to ensure they remain healthy and green.  As with disease resistance, some grasses are better for higher-traffic areas.  These grasses either resist wear damage or regrow from damaged areas quickly or both.
Grass Species Wear Tolerance Recuperability Time
Fine Fescue
– Chewings Low Slow
– Creeping Red Low Slow-Medium
– Hard Low Slow
– Sheep Low Slow
Kentucky Bluegrass
– Elite High Fast
– BVMG High Medium-Fast
– Common Medium-High Medium
Canada Bluegrass
– Common Medium Medium
Turf Type Tall Fescue
– Common High Slow-Medium
– Rhizomatous Tall Fescue High Medium
Perennial Ryegrass
– Common High Slow
– Improved High Slow-Medium
Creeping Ryegrass High Medium-Fast

Overseeding for Easier Maintenance down the road

Overseeding annually is an easier and less time-consuming method of lawn maintenance than reseeding an entirely new lawn. Overseeding requires less soil preparation and less disruption to the existing lawn. Annual overseeding can help maintain a healthy, dense lawn and prevent the need for extensive lawn repair and maintenance that may take several hours to do properly.


In conclusion, overseeding is an essential part of maintaining a healthy lawn. By selecting appropriate grass cultivars and addressing bare spots, soil quality, shade tolerance, and high traffic, you can maintain a lush, green lawn that adds value to your property.

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