How to Prepare Your Lawn for Overseeding

overseedingIf you’ve ever had a dry or sparse patch in your lawn, you may be familiar with the helpful practice of overseeding to address the issue. But how much do you know about making sure this practice is effective? 

It’s one thing to simply disperse some extra seeds, hope they take hold, and literally watch the grass grow. It’s another thing entirely to actually prepare your yard so that the seeds you spread can truly thrive. 

In this article, we’re going to take a look at the importance of dethatching and aerating before you overseed a portion of your yard. 


Children, backyard parties, and outdoor pets can all take a toll on your grass. Frequent trampling can damage the pores in the blades, rendering them less efficient at holding critical nutrients. The result? Brittle patches of thatch beneath the top layer of healthy green blades. 

Over time, the buildup of thatch can begin to “suffocate” your lawn’s topsoil, depriving it of water and nutrients. If you guessed this is also detrimental to your grass’s root system and overall health, you would be correct. So what to do, then?

Aerating your lawn is the process of using a special tool to stir up the soil, loosening it and allowing it to breathe once again. A core aerator uses hollow tines on a revolving drum to “stir” the topsoil. 

This process may sound destructive to those who’ve never aerated, but fear not. The tines are spaced in such a way that the rooted grass remains unharmed and intact.  

Find out more about how TLC can assist with aerating your lawn!


While thatch is mainly dried up grass runners, it also includes other organic debris that has settled onto your lawn. Once loosened and no longer clinging to the ground, all of these materials are actually quite healthy for your soil to reabsorb as they continue to break down. 

However, we mentioned earlier that thatch buildup- when not uprooted- is detrimental to your topsoil. Fortunately, there are also lawn care tools designed specifically to pull it out. If you’ve got a vertical mower, you’re in luck. Its blades do a great job of yanking up patches of thatch so they can either be disposed of or left to decompose. 

Dethatching can also be done by hand, if you’ve got easy-to-spot “thickets” of tangled thatch in your yard. This, however, is an arduous process that you want to approach with care. Be sure you’ve got a chopping tool you’re using cautiously, and try not to damage healthy grass. Once again, the pulled thatch can be left behind as mulch. 

Which Comes First?

Many choose to aerate their lawn before dethatching of the thatch is relatively shallow. The process of aerating will break up the thatch to some degree, and this practice alone may be sufficient for minor issues. 

Additionally, dethatching is a more invasive process. For this reason, some prefer to stand by and see if aerating alone is sufficient to address the problem areas in their lawn. 

However, for deeper and thicker thatches, sometimes both practices are necessary. This is especially true if the thatch is over ½ inch thick above the topsoil. That level of buildup must be broken down in order to preserve the overall health of the soil and root system. 

Additional Considerations

 Dethatching is typically done every other year, unless an unforeseen problem area arises in one’s lawn. Some lawns are more prone to thatching due to their growth patterns. It may be beneficial to reach out to your local lawn care expert to find out if this is the case with your chosen ground cover. 

Aerating is recommended yearly, but this also depends on the overall health of your grass. Some grasses thrive with very little care, while others need seasonal or annual upkeep in order to remain healthy. Once again, we recommend you consult a professional to find out what your lawn needs to remain bright and verdant. 

A Summary

  • Thatch is a buildup of dead runners and other debris in your lawn. When left to accumulate, it can begin to starve your topsoil and harm your grass
  • Aerating gently “stirs” the soil, allowing it to breathe and absorb water and nutrients
  • Dethatching is the process of pulling up patches of thatch that are harming your lawn.
  • Check with a lawn service professional to problem-solve and find out how often these tasks need to be completed to keep your lawn healthy. 
  • Aerating and dethatching are critical steps to take prior to overseeding, as you want to be sure the fresh grass seeds are met with healthy, nutrient-rich topsoil. 

If you’ve got a dry spot in your yard and are considering overseeding as a treatment, be sure you take the proper steps to ensure the seeds will germinate! For a free quote to assist you in this project, click here and let us know how we can help! 


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