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Lawn and gardening information for Colquitt County from the Extension office..

Clint Waltz, University of Georgia

Successful overseeding involves proper seed selection, overseeding timing and
preparation, post planting maintenance, and spring transition. Successful
overseeding also requires maintaining a healthy warm-season turf throughout
the year. It is particularly important to maintain proper soil fertility, to relieve
soil compaction, and to prevent excessive thatch development.

Overseeding selection involves selecting grasses that have characteristics suited
to the particular needs. Annual ryegrass has been replaced by perennial
ryegrasses, because of improved turf quality, stress and pest tolerance and
manageability. The “intermediate” ryegrasses tend to perform as the name
implies somewhere between annual and perennial ryegrass, unfortunately most
are either much like annual ryegrass or perennial but not half way between the
two. Roughstalk bluegrass, or what is referred to in the industry as “Poa triv”
(short for the botanical name Poa trivialis), is also as an overseeding grass. It
has better shade tolerance than the ryegrasses, but is slower to germinate and
will die out earlier in the spring due to poor heat tolerance.
Overseeding rates generally range between 5 and 10 pounds per 1,000 ft2 in

lawns and 8 to 12 pounds per 1000 ft2 for athletic fields and golf courses. Using
high quality “Certified” (blue tag) ryegrass seed that is free of annual bluegrass
(Poa annua) is important in maintaining weed free turf. It is also important to
use seed treated with fungicides such as mefenoxam, particularly for early fall
overseeding since seedling blight diseases can be a particular problem at this

The ten pound seeding rate generally provides rapid stand for fall use, while the
five pound rate provides a thinner stand that does not provide much coverage
until spring. Choice of seeding rate generally relates to appearance desired and
when (fall or spring) and the amount of traffic. Higher trafficked areas need
higher seeding rates. However, higher seeding rates also may mean more
difficult spring transition.

Indicators for proper timing of overseeding include: soil temperatures at a 4”
depth approaching 75° F, night temperatures consistently in the 50’s, average
midday temperature below 70° F, or 2 to 4 weeks before the average annual first
killing frost date. Overseeding before environmental conditions are suitable can
encourage warm-season species competition and reduce the overseeding stand.

The objective to insuring a successful overseeding is a good soil to seed contact.
Seedbed preparations generally consist of close mowing or scalping, with some
light vertical mowing, and sweeping, blowing, or vacuuming the loose plant
debris from the soil surface.

Generally, the more the turf is opened, the better the establishment rate, but the
more competitive the cool-season turf will be in the spring. Seed which
germinate in thatch or above the soil surface are more likely to dry-out and die
before becoming established.

After dragging the seed into the soil, begin lightly irrigating to maintain good
surface moisture and get the seed to germinate. This generally means irrigating
three to five times per day until the seedlings are well established, but the total
amount of water applied during a day would seldom exceed 0.5”. This irrigation
practice should be done without causing puddling on the soil surface because
free standing water encourages disease. After germination, gradually reduce the
frequency and increase the time of irrigation until a normal irrigation program
can be established.

Begin mowing when seedling height is 30% higher than desired. Use a mower
with sharp blades and mow when the grass is dry to reduce seedling injury. Use
a rotary-type mower for the first mowing to insure seedlings are cut and not
ripped. Transitioning to a reel-type mower after the second or third mowing can
provide a high quality appearance. Fertilize after seedling emergence (generally
three weeks after seeding). Earlier fertilizing may encourage warm-season turf
competition. One pound of N per 1,000 ft2 per month is adequate with less
commonly used. Use a soil test report to guide phosphorus needs.

Most turf managers are beginning to recognize the importance of a good yearround
turf management program to a smooth spring transition. Properfertilization, irrigation,
mowing, thatch control, cultivation and pest management throughout the year affect
transition. A good transition also requires knowing and making use of normal climatic
conditions. Most warmseason turfgrasses resume growth when soil and night temperatures
approach 65° F. Sometimes forcing soil temperature warming by aeration can lead to
early spring growth and premature reduction of overseeding, particularly if cool
spring temperatures follow.

Maintaining a mowing height that prevents the overseeding from shading out
the bermudagrass is critical to a smooth transition. Lowering the mowing height
when soil temperatures increase, stresses the cool-season turf and aids in soil
warming. When temperatures are high enough an application of soluble N can
encourage warm-season growth and encourage cool-season decline.

While a natural spring transitions is typically desirable, rapid removal of the
cool-season grass without harming the warm-season species is possible by
using some herbicides (see Postemergence Herbicides).

Thank you for your time, please call your local extension agent with any questions

Thank You,

Jeremy Kichler
Colquitt County Extension Coordinator

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