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  • Writer's pictureZach

How to get a better lawn step 5: aerate, over-seed and apply Lawn Food now

The next lawn step is really important for the future of your lawn - aerating and over-seeding before putting the next lawn fertilizer on. Three weeks ago I went around and pulled every type of weed or tall fescue grass leaving bare spots in the yard. In that blog post, you saw that I covered the holes with dirt and put down grass seed. I’ve been watering a lot (like daily) and can see tiny new grass blades coming up. With all the water it also thickened up all the grass around the empty holes making the empty spaces smaller.

As I wrote a few weeks ago, I’ve slowly been cutting my grass shorter to prepare for fall aeration. Today I set my blade deck at 3¼ and bagged the grass. Three inches is about as short as I ever mow and it’s usually my very last mow. The reason I bagged is because I wanted all the leaves and grass blades off my grass to that the seed could reach the soil. Bagging took about double the time as a typical mow because I started too early and the grass was wet which made it stick to my chute.

mowing the lawn

The next step after mowing and bagging is getting my aerator out to pull around my yard. Aerating has gone up in price over the years so I have bought my own which has already paid for itself compare to renting or hiring it each year. I bought my aerator brand new for around $170 at Menards a couple years ago. It has worked great. The only thing I didn’t like about it was having to put it together. If you order it for in store pick up you don’t have to pay for shipping. I couldn’t find much cheaper anywhere else.

zach using aerator attached to mower

You will want to mark any sprinkler heads before aerating. Make sure you water the day before so that the plugs with go into the ground and pull out easier. This makes a big mess and you will get your tires and aerator all muddy. Aerating helps let your lawn breath and helps dethatch your yard. It also allows the grass seed and fertilizer to get to the soil where they both work best.

core aeration lawn aerating

After aerating, I bought more grass seed to put down on the entire lawn. Overseeding helps thicken your yard. A thick yard naturally keeps the weeds out. The grass seed I use is from Early May and is called May Park Ultra Premium Blend. It completely renovated my previous yard and I’m going to stick with it. I aerated right over the spots that I seeded three weeks ago and again overseeded over the top of those.

earl may may park grass seed

I put the grass seed in my fertilizer spreader and put the setting at 3. I always use the exact same grass seed for any seeding I do. Remember my goal is to have the uniform green colored lawn. I bought three bags and really put it on thick because this is my first year living in this house. In future years I will probably only use one bag and some years won’t overseed at all. Some spots that I wanted extra seed spread I simply would grab a handful and sprinkled it on the spots. I would recommend being picky with what seed you put down. If you’re paying someone to overseed, find out what they’re using.

zach putting grass seed down with spreader

Lastly with my spreader I put down the 5th step in the lawn program - Earl May’s Midwest Select Lawn Food. This is full of nitrogen which should help give the new grass seed a boost. It also contains iron and sulfur to give that deep green look. This fertilizer really helps strengthen the roots of your grass. I’m going to water extra over the next few weeks so to get the grass seed started. Make sure you blow this off your cement or it will stain your cement before you do any watering.

lawn food grass fertilizer

After doing all this work, try to wait as long as you possibly can before you mow again to let the seeds germinate. Remember I mowed my yard short before doing this. Do not bag your grass right away and suck up all your grass seed. The dirt cores all over will eventually compost right into your yard. When you do mow again set your deck high and don’t bag. You should be good to mow the rest of the fall. Just try to be patient and give your new grass seed time to root.

lawn fertilizer in spreader

My yard should really look good in a few weeks. It’s best after putting down the fertilizer and grass seed that you keep everyone off the lawn for about a week. It won’t hurt much walking on it, but with the extra watering and dirt pods, it will be a muddy mess. Take my advice - communicate this with your wife before you do it, and don’t do it over Labor Day weekend when you've got kids home all day for three days... If Momma’s not happy, ain't nobody happy.

muddy driveway from aeration
Muddy Mess After Aerating, Seeding and Fertilizing

Need a lawn fix? Here's what we used:

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we're kiersten and zach

Follow along with us each week as we work to make the very 2000s home we bought during the middle of a pandemic more “us.” We’ll share everything from quick fixes to more permanent changes, along with projects you can do in your own home. Zach will also share all his lawn and garden advice as he starts over on the yard.


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