What does pro fisherman Brian Latimer know about how to overseed a lawn? Well, a lot actually. Before becoming a pro fisherman, his day job was running his family’s landscaping company. And, believe it or not, Latimer thought landscaping was the perfect career to transition from into professional fishing.
In the landscaping industry, when your job’s done, you’re done, he explains. So, if you want to get up early and get your work done, you can be done by early to mid-afternoon. Then, you can get out on the water and fish until dark. So, for Latimer, working in the landscape business was perfect for his fishing career.
Even though he didn’t make a tremendous amount of money landscaping, it allowed him to spend as much time as he needed fishing. Especially, he says, during the winter months, when work was slow. He also learned a ton, in the process.
The award and the family business.
At Latimer’s family landscaping company, he did just about everything—irrigation, landscape installs, regular maintenance and overseeding. And, during this time, one of the cool things he did was to compete in the State Star Agra Businessman.
Thanks to his involvement in his family business, Latimer won South Carolina’s 2001 State Star Agra Businessman against other teenagers his age,. He won the award by overseeding lawns in the fall. So basically, Latimer says, he was a professional at making lawns look good long before becoming a professional fisherman. And, in this Backyard Life video, he shares his tips on how to overseed and make lawns look really good.
How to overseed a lawn.
Overseeding a lawn is simple, explains Latimer. “I love doing it. I love making a yard look really, really good. And the only way to do that—especially if you have a cool- season grass—is to overseed it in the fall.” To overseed, you only need a few tools, and to follow a few basic steps to get the best results.
First, a common question Latimer hears is, “Why do I need to overseed?” Cool-season grasses, in particular, don’t have root systems that regenerate. So, during the summertime when it’s hot, you’re going to lose a bit of turf. And, some of that grass is going to die to disease simply because it’s a cool-season grass. That grass is going to die back or be damaged due to the hot weather.
So, in the fall time, in order to keep a cool-grass lawn plush and regenerating, you have to do what is called overseeding. Basically, you have to plant that grass again. So, here are the nuts and bolts of overseeding.
Cut your grass short.
When you decide to overseed, the first thing you need to do is mow your lawn. Long grass looks great in the summer, but it’s not conducive to getting the seed to the soil in the fall. To overseed, you need seed-to-soil contact for the grass to germinate. To increase contact, you have to mow your lawn really close to the ground. Latimer recommends getting your lawn to at least 2 to 2.5 inches high before you overseed. The shorter, the better.
Another tip is to always ensure your lawn’s clear of leaf and debris matter. If your seed-to-soil contact ratio is inhibited by leaves or any kind of moss on the soil, that’s going to cause you trouble down the road. Namely, hindering successful germination.
Aeration serves a dual purpose. Of course, it’s one way of breaking up the compaction caused by mowing throughout the season. The second reason to aerate, says Latimer, is because it also creates the perfect little environment for your seedlings to germinate. As an example, Latimer fills a cup with a little bit of soil to represent the core plug that was just created by running the lawn aerator across an entire yard. The opening of the cup is the hole created by that plug. When you go to broadcast your seed, the seed goes inside that hole. So now, explains Latimer, if a big storm comes in the fall, that seed can’t be blown or washed away because it’s protected in the core plug—a perfect environment for it to germinate.
When you fertilize, the same thing happens. If you spread fertilizer over the entire yard, it goes into the core plug where the seed is, and won’t get washed away, either. But, when it does rain—because the seedling is lower in the ground—it’s protected and will hold moisture longer. It will also be protected should there be a cold snap. In a way, says Latimer, aerating creates the perfect little greenhouse for seedlings to grow in.
Take care of leveling issues.
While you’re overseeding your yard, it’s also a good time to take care of any potholes or areas where you’ve removed trees.
Broadcast your seed.
Once all of this is done, it’s time to overseed. This is the easiest part. If you have a big yard, Latimer suggests using a broadcast spreader. If you have a really small yard or area to overseed, you may be better off with a drop seeder so you can drop those seeds directly to the soil. But, for a bigger space, Latimer suggests using the broadcast spreader because it will be a lot quicker and easier to be precise with your seed droppings.
Now, you’re almost done. One of the things Latimer always watches for really closely after overseeding, is making sure he keeps as much debris off the lawn as possible. If not, it’ll ruin all the work you’ve just put in. Second, don’t mow for a very long time. Stay off of the lawn for at least three to four weeks. During this time, water’s going to be the next most important part of keeping that lawn in survival mode. That seedling is just like a little baby—very tender in the beginning. So, keep an eye on the moisture content in the soil. If it’s not getting water, it’s going to die. If you don’t have an irrigation system, now’s the time to get one. Then, you can set the timer, walk away and not have to worry about it.
While cool-season grass is a lot of work, Latimer promises that—in the end—it makes for a very, very spectacular lawn.