How to Overseed a Lawn Without Aerating?

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Have you performed overseeding in your lawn before? Planning to do it again due to unsatisfactory results? There is a chance your overseeding project may have failed due to an inaccurate aerating plan. 

Many gardeners think that aerating before overseeding is critical to increasing their lawn grass density. It is commonly said that garden soil must be loosened before overseeding. For this reason, people aerate the soil and loosen it to increase the breathability of seeds. Some gardeners even go through the process of dethatching. 

The issue with aeration is that the lawn can look shabby for a while. The thick and soggy soil makes it harder for gardeners to walk around and perform other tasks. Even worse, the wet soil causes shoe sole stains to form all around the garden and this can choke the freshly planted seeds. 

No doubt aeration improves germination rates and faster grass growth. But this applies mainly to backyards with clay-like soil, due to their compactness. There are dozens of grass types and not of all them require aeration before overseeding.

What is Overseeding?

overseed lawn without aerating

Overseeding is the act of fuelling the existing lawn grass and soil with additional seeds. There may be grass already growing, but the presence of brown patches, non-uniform grass, and an uneven overall density calls for overseeding.

Despite no need to remove existing grass or soil, the process can take some time and your garden may look shabby for several weeks. But over time, you would be rewarded with a lush-green backyard and perfectly structured grass.

Benefits of Overseeding

how to overseed lawn without aerating

Overseeding has numerous benefits that improve the overall grass quality of your backyard. If your lawn grass is old, here are a few reasons you must take up an overseeding project:

  • Old lawn grass requires more than usual water. Also, due to old age, some grass types lose their ability to effectively absorb nutrients from the soil. For this reason, an increase in fertilizer intake has to be provided too. 
  • Old lawn grass is susceptible to insect attacks and garden diseases. Overseeding would replenish the immunity of your lawn grass.
  • Overseeding is a super-fast way to furnish and cover-up grass-deprived patches on your lawn.
  • Rather than plucking out the entire turf, all you need to do is add extra seeds. This gives birth to a uniform grass density across the lawn.

Overseeding Lawn Grass Without Aeration

Aerating lawn grass is not important as long as you can loosen your soil in another way.

What is the point of soil aeration? 

So that the seeds can settle in comfortably and the soil has enough internal moisture to impart nutrients to the new seeds. This loosening can be done via a metal rake, lawn dethatcher, chipper shredder, etc. 

Here is a step-by-step guide to overseeding your lawn grass without aeration.

Step 1: Mow Existing Turf

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Start by mowing the existing turf. Choose a robotic lawnmower that can trim the grass down up to an inch above the garden surface.

Mowing grass before overseeding has the following advantages:

  • Mowing helps to avoid existing grass and weeds to interfere with the upcoming seedlings.
  • Extra sunlight can reach the soil and fuel the new seeds with required warmth for spot-on germination. For example, grass types like Bermuda require full-day sunlight cycles for effective germination. 
  • The occurrence of new seeds getting stuck in tall grass can be avoided. As grass seeds can be expensive, mowing would assure you aren’t wasting money.
  • Mowing your existing grass to around an inch would help identify barren land that is hidden due to surrounding tall grass.

Make sure to clear the clippings to avoid the seeds getting stuck.

Step 2: Dethatch Garden Surface

overseed lawn without aerating

Now that mowing is done, you have clarity as to precisely what areas require overseeding. Make sure to clear thick layers of thatch to avoid poor germination of the new seeds. 

We suggest that you use a power rake to slice the debris, instead of ripping them apart. This proves to be way more effective than aerating before overseeding. A high-end power rake equipment will ensure that all tight roots, rhizomes, branches, and stems are extracted from the surface to be overseeded.


Many gardeners prefer the traditional method of pouring excess water in periodic cycles just before overseeding. Rather than creating an environment of super-wet soil, you should resort to dethatching for hassle-free settling of the new seeds.

Overseeding wisdom lies in dethatching. This is because dethatching loosens the soil such that even minimal amounts of water can easily seep through and preserve much-needed moisture for new seeds. 

Bonus tip: Power raking will inevitably leave some form of damage to your lawn. Make sure you perform power raking late in winter or in early spring to allow the lawn to recover from this damage.

Step 3: Grass Seed Spreading

how to overseed lawn without aerating

The seed bag will indicate the spreading rate for planting seeds. Do not miss this information as varied grass types follow varied spreading rates.

Unless you have taken up the responsibility to perform grass seeding several times in the past, you must use a broadcast spreader. Depending on the condition of your lawn and the purpose of overseeding, the number of seeds you use will vary. 

For smaller lawns, mix a little sand with seeds and spread them across the lawn with your hand itself. Also double-check that the garden surface is clear such that there is perfect contact between the seed and the soil. 

Compost may be a good option for providing your seeds with a greater amount of nutrients. Although in this guide, we prefer to use fertilizers later on. Adding mulch, compost, or additional topsoil can starve the seeds of air and moisture, leading to unsuccessful germination.

Bonus tip: For quicker lawn grass growth, spread a higher number of seeds. This helps the seeds build stronger root connections in a more organized and faster manner.

Step 4: Rake the Seeded Regions

how to overseed lawn without aerating

Now that you have spread the seeds as desired, take precautions to ensure these seeds are not displaced. Birds, cats, dogs, wind, water, and even walking over the overseeded region can disarrange the seeds.

This can be done by using a rake. Don’t be rash when raking the soil. Remember, the goal is to ensure that the seeds are settled in the soil.

Rake the soil in all possible directions to prevent collecting all the new seeds in one area. The seeds are extremely delicate and even the slightest of raking in a consistent direction can cause unnecessary gathering of the seeds.

Step 5: Fertilize the Overseeded Regions

easy way to overseed lawn

As we mentioned earlier, this guide does not promote adding compost or topsoil to enhance the presence of nutrients. Once all the seeds are settled in the perfectly crafted soil, you need to add fertilizers to complement their growth and nutrient requirements. 

Ideally, the N-P-K composition must have a high ratio of potassium as you want the new roots to develop strong bonds in the initial stages itself. In most cases, approximately 1 pound of Nitrogen per 1000 sq.ft. is advised for overseeding projects that do not include initial aeration. Double-check the instructions on the fertilizer label to ensure you don’t over/under fertilize your new grass seeds.

easiest method to overseed lawn without aerating

Refrain from using weed fertilizers for new grass seeds. These fertilizers curb the seed sprouting process and lead to incomplete grass growth and root development.

Step 6: Water the Lawn

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Do not water more than twice a day. Two times is sufficient to keep a perfect amount of moisture. Also, make sure not to overwater the seeded regions as this can wash the seeds away. 

Most importantly, water in a manner that puddle formation does not occur. Puddles are sure to kill your new seeds even before they attempt to germinate. If you own a small lawn, then either of these watering cans can be a great piece of equipment. Whereas, if you have a big lawn, consider installing an oscillating sprinkler to ensure even water distribution.

Either way, you will have control over the regions you water and you can regulate the amount with ease.

The frequency of watering must be increased with every passing week. Depending on your grass type, you will begin to notice fresh patches of grass on the overseeded region within 2 to 4 weeks.

Tips and Tricks

overseed lawn without aerating
  • Do not mow the overseeded lawn when the grass is wet. This can lead to issues like brown patches and fungus formation.
  • Perennial grass type must be mowed approximately 2 weeks after planting the seeds. This is because of their comparatively quicker growth cycles. 
  • Bluegrass must be mowed approximately 3 weeks after overseeding as this grass type takes a while to reach its recommended mowing height.
  • If the surrounding grass is growing quickly and restricting sunlight to the freshly planted patches, you can use either of these hedge shears to trim their height.
  • 10 seeds per square inch is an ideal amount you must follow when the spreading rate is not mentioned on the seed bag label.


Aerating the lawn before overseeding can be detrimental due to the precision required. This guide should help you eliminate the risk of pre-aeration and rely on perfect dethatching.

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