Is April a good time to overseed?

Quick Answers

April can be a good time to overseed cool season grasses like fescue and bluegrass in many parts of the country. The moderate temperatures and spring rains create favorable growing conditions. However, overseeding too early runs the risk of new grass struggling to establish before summer heat arrives. Timing varies by region – northern areas can overseed earlier while southern zones should wait until late April or May.

What is Overseeding?

Overseeding is the process of sowing new grass seed into an existing lawn. It helps fill in bare or thin spots to improve the overall thickness and health of the turf. Overseeding is typically done in fall or spring when temperatures are milder and soil moisture is abundant – conditions which allow grass seedlings to germinate and establish more easily.

Reasons to Overseed

There are several reasons why overseeding may be beneficial:

  • Improve density of thin or patchy areas of lawn
  • Introduce improved grass varieties into older lawns
  • Help lawn recover from damage caused by heavy use, diseases, insects etc
  • Transition cool season grass into warmer season grasses like bermuda
  • Improve color and texture of the lawn

Preparation for Overseeding

Proper preparation is key to successful overseeding. Recommended steps include:

  1. Mow the lawn short to expose bare soil – around 1-2 inches high
  2. Dethatch and aerate compacted areas if needed
  3. Apply starter fertilizer to encourage seedling growth
  4. Use pre-emergent herbicide 4-6 weeks before overseeding if dealing with crabgrass or other weeds
  5. Wait for soil temps to be above 55 degrees F

April Overseeding Considerations by Region

Northern States

In northern states across USDA hardiness zones 4-6, April is often an ideal time to overseed cool season grasses:

  • Soil temperatures reach proper range for seed germination
  • Spring rains provide ample moisture for seeds
  • Mild temps in 50s-60s F promote growth before summer
  • Grass has 1-2 months to mature before hot, dry summer months

Target mid-late April, or as soon as snow melts and soil dries out. Popular grass choices include tall fescue, perennial ryegrass and fine fescues. Avoid Kentucky bluegrass as it requires a longer period to establish.

Transition Zone

The transition zone spanning the lower Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions (zones 6-7) can overseed in April with proper timing:

  • Early to mid April – fescues, bluegrass
  • Late April – improved Bermudagrass varieties to transition warm season turf

Avoid overseeded ryegrass as it can compete with permanent grasses. Mow new grass high (3-4 inches) to help it compete with weeds.

Southern States

In warmer southern regions of the US (zones 7-9), it’s best to wait until late April or early May to overseed:

  • Temps, soil moisture not optimal until later spring
  • Heat arrives sooner, reduces establishment window
  • Transition to Bermudagrass, zoysia – seed late April into early May
  • Use heat and drought tolerant varieties

Ryegrass rarely persists through southern summers. Focus on deep rooting tall fescues or native grasses like buffalograss.

Western States

Western and southwestern states present challenges due to arid conditions:

  • Limited water often requires spring overseeding
  • Prioritize drought resistance varieties
  • Consider low water use grasses like buffalograss
  • Seed annual ryegrass as temporary cool season cover
  • Use light, frequent irrigation to establish seeds

Avoid perennial bluegrass and ryegrass. Fescues fare better with reduced water. Overseed early spring before hot dry summer.

Best Grass Varieties for Overseeding

Tall Fescue

Tall fescue is a top choice for overseeding. Benefits include:

  • Deep roots confer heat and drought tolerance
  • Low maintenance, durable, wear-resistant turf
  • Dark green color, bunching growth habit
  • Good shade tolerance compared to other grasses
  • Varieties like Turbo, Falcon IV, Titanium 2 LS, Firecracker SLS suit many regions

Perennial Ryegrass

Perennial ryegrass establishes quickly but has some drawbacks:

  • Fast germination and growth (5-10 days)
  • Bunching growth fills in bare spots
  • Requires more water and fertilizer to persist
  • Prone to disease in hot and humid climates
  • Varieties like ASP6006, Accent, Forefront, Brighton suit cooler regions

Fine Fescues

Fine fescues like hard fescue and creeping red fescue perform well in shady lawns:

  • Good tolerance for low light, drought, cold
  • Find fescues best suited to neutral and acidic soils
  • Improved shade tolerance over other grasses
  • Slower growth habit, less mowing required
  • Use blends with chewings fescue, bluegrass varieties too

Kentucky Bluegrass

Kentucky bluegrass is a popular choice but has higher maintenance needs:

  • Forms dense, lush turf with rich green color
  • Germination is slower – takes 14-21 days
  • Prefers consistently moist, fertile soils
  • Intolerant of dry conditions, poor soils
  • Improved varieties like Blue Velvet, Blue Devil II, Midnight, NuGlade


Bermudagrass handles heat, drought, traffic but goes dormant in winter:

  • Aggressive growth habit fills in quickly
  • Seeded varieties offer easier transition vs. sod
  • Improved cold tolerance but still goes dormant in winter
  • Heat and drought tolerant, ideal for low maintenance lawns
  • Seeded varieties like Riviera, Blackjack, Sahara good options

Overseeding Tips and Techniques

Seeding Methods

You can overseed using various methods:

  • Slit seeding – Use slit seeder that cuts grooves in soil to deposit seed
  • Core aerating – Drop seeds into aeration holes for direct soil contact
  • Starter fertilizer – Mix grass seed with granular fertilizer and spread
  • Broadcast spreading – Use drop or rotary spreader for even coverage

Seed to Soil Contact

Ensure good seed to soil contact for better germination:

  • Avoid seed sitting on top of soil or thatch layer
  • Consider using peat moss or compost as topdressing after seeding
  • Gently rake area to lightly cover seed with soil
  • Roll the seeded area with a water-filled roller

Proper Watering

Consistent moisture is vital for seed germination and establishment:

  • Keep top 1/4 inch moist for 10-14 days until germination
  • Gradually reduce watering depth and frequency
  • Avoid overwatering and puddling
  • Use brief, light waterings 2-3 times a day

Follow Up Care

Proper follow up care ensures new grass thrives:

  • Let new grass reach 3-4 inch height before first mowing
  • Set mower high (3-4 inches) to avoid scalping seedlings
  • Apply starter fertilizer 4-6 weeks after emergence
  • Overseed thin spots again in 6-8 weeks if needed
  • Wait until second mowing to resume weed control

When to Avoid Overseeding

Cooler months are best for overseeding. Avoid seeding at these times:

  • Summer – Heat and drought stress grass establishment
  • Early spring before soil reaches 55°F – Delayed germination
  • Prior 4-6 weeks before using pre-emergent herbicides
  • Just before or during major lawn renovations
  • Before an extended period of heavy rain or inability to water
  • In very dense, competitive lawns or weedy areas

Overseeding Warm vs. Cool Season Grasses

Warm Season Grasses

Overseed bermuda, zoysia, centipede, St. Augustinegrass when dormant:

  • Spring or fall before greenup – late winter into early spring ideal in south
  • Use fast growing ryegrass for winter cover
  • Tall fescue also works but is slower growing
  • Mow overseeded grass very short in spring before warm season greens up

Cool Season Grasses

Best times to overseed northern grasses like fescue, bluegrass, ryegrass:

  • Early fall (August-September) – moderate temps, good conditions
  • Spring (March-May) – timing varies by region
  • Avoid summer and hot mid-day temps
  • Use shade tarps to cool soil and retain moisture

Should I Hire a Professional?

Consider hiring an experienced landscaping professional for overseeding help with:

  • Large yards or acreages requiring equipment for scalping, aerating, seeding, fertilizing etc.
  • Lawns with extensive weeds, disease or soil problems
  • Complex multi-grass seed mixtures for specific conditions
  • Significant grading or drainage issues that complicate DIY work
  • Yards with in-ground irrigation systems best serviced by professionals
  • Limited time, physical ability or interest in completing the project yourself

However, overseeding smaller yards with basic cool season grass blends can certainly be a DIY project for many homeowners.

Overseeding Costs

Average costs to overseed an existing lawn:

  • DIY overseeding – $0.15-$0.30 per sq ft for grass seed
  • Contractor overseeding – $0.20-$0.75 per sq ft depending on service level
  • Slit seeding costs more than basic broadcasting methods
  • Additional services like aeration, debris removal, grading etc add cost
  • Premium or speciality seed blends can increase seed costs

Overseeding a 5,000 sq ft lawn typically costs $750-$2,000 or more professionally. DIY projects often run $750 or less for a yard this size.

Key Takeaways

  • April overseeded grasses have 1-2 months before summer to mature
  • Wait until soil temperatures reach 55°F for good germination
  • Northern zones overseed cool seasons grasses earlier than southern regions
  • Tall fescue and perennial ryegrass suit most overseeding needs
  • Prepare lawn, use proper seeding methods and care for new grass
  • Hiring a pro ensures best results but DIY is possible for many


April can present a good opportunity to overseed and thicken up thin, patchy lawns before the arrival of summer heat and stresses. Homeowners should time overseeding properly for their specific region and grass type to achieve success. While hiring a professional lawn care service is advisable for large scale overseeding projects, do-it-yourselfers can tackle smaller lawns with proper timing, preparations and seed selection. Ensuring good seed-soil contact, consistent moisture and follow up care will give overseeded grass the healthiest start as it vies to establish itself among existing turf.

Leave a Comment