Seed Smarter: Tips for a Successful Fall Seeding Project
Posted By Ben Pease, Agronomist on August 01, 2022
Whether seeding, overseeding, or renovating this fall, many factors can have an impact on the success of your projects. From site prep to irrigation, we’ve organized our top tips to help ensure a strong start. As we get started, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page with a few things.
Seeding versus Overseeding
Seeding typically refers to the establishment of new turfgrass on a site.
Overseeding can have two different applications:
The broadcast application of cool-season seed over an existing area of cool-season turfgrass in the early fall months to improve recovery from summer stress and to introduce new genetic material (improved cultivars of cool-season turfgrasses).
The broadcast application of cool-season seed over an existing area of warm-season turfgrass that is about to go dormant for the purpose of establishing cool-season turfgrass for winter month use of the space (athletic fields, golf courses, home lawns).
Renovation versus Transition
Renovation refers to the process of killing, removing, and replacing the turfgrass of a site due to construction traffic or the desire to improve turfgrass characteristics through introduction of new cultivars, often done on athletic fields and golf course playing surfaces.
Transition refers to overseeding a warm-season turfgrass with a cool-season species to provide for winter use of the turfgrass site.
Top Tips for Fall Seeding
When establishing new turfgrass areas, site preparation is key for good seed-to-soil contact. Proper tilling and grading will ensure correct soil structure and drainage, allowing for effective growth of new seedlings. Site preparation for overseeding is minimal; confirm that pre-emergent herbicides have not been recently applied and perform an aerification to improve seed-to-soil contact.
A soil test should be utilized to determine nutrient needs of the site. Especially important is the use of a starter fertilizer containing phosphorus, which promotes root growth. This is true for both traditional seeding and overseeding.
Don’t forget about your soil. Carbon is just as essential as NPK for soil and plant health and including humate-based (carbon) products at seeding helps to build healthy soil, stimulate roots, and boost new seedling growth.
Proper weed control at seeding gives the desired turfgrass seedlings an advantage during the establishment timeframe. A starter fertilizer + herbicide combination will control broadleaf and grassy weeds during establishment of cool-season turfgrasses (except bentgrasses), which is important even during a fall seeding or overseeding.
Consistent irrigation and soil moisture management are important in all seeding situations. Once hydrated, seeds need continual access to water for optimal establishment. Use of a programmable irrigation system or training the customer to irrigate the site multiple times per day is an essential step in a successful seeding project.
Post-germination care seals the deal. Continue irrigation but reduce the amount as time progresses. Additional nitrogen fertility applications are important at 2-3 weeks after seeding. Include phosphorus if your soil test indicated a further need. New seedings should be cut to their desired end height-of-cut, never removing more than 1/3 of the tissue, while mowing should be withheld from overseeded sites for 2-3 weeks after seeding.
9-12-6 with HCU®, Black Gypsum DG®, & SmartPhos® DG
This innovative fertilizer is designed for both new turf establishment and maintenance. Humic Coated Urea (HCU) provides humic acid to improve soils and strengthen roots. Black Gypsum DG aids in leaching excess sodium through the soil profile. SmartPhos DG provides plant-available phosphorus over an extended period, allowing for lower use rates compared to traditional phosphorus sources.
With high phosphorus content and both quick and slow-release nitrogen, our 18-24-12 fertilizer is built to promote vigorous seedling establishment and root development.
21-22-4 Fertilizer with Mesotrione
21-22-4 Fertilizer with Mesotrione controls select grassy and broadleaf weeds while providing a high-quality starter fertilizer to promote seedling germination and rapid establishment.
Humic DG™ CharX
Containing a 50/50 blend of humic acid and biochar, carbon-rich Humic DG CharX builds healthy soil, stimulates roots, and boosts new seedling growth.
Ben Pease is the Agronomist for The Andersons Turf & Specialty business, responsible for research, service, and technical support. Ben received both his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Wisconsin, and earned his doctorate degree from Iowa State University. Ben has also served as the Assistant Superintendent for Cherokee Country Club (Madison, WI) and Whistling Straits Golf Courses (Sheboygan, WI). To contact Ben, click here.
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