The season for seeding is upon us!

If you’re ready to get to overseeding or spot seeding your lawn, the first thing you need to do is your yard clean-up. Use your heavy-duty rake and really go to town raking up the sticks, old weeds, and dead grass.

Your next step will be to decide how much time and effort you want to put into your over-seeding or spot seeding project so you can prep your supplies.

A more in-depth process includes aerating your lawn – a process that pulls dirt plugs out of the soil to alleviate compaction and helps water and oxygen flow through. You can rent an aerator if you don’t own one, or even use a hoe or aerating spike shoes if you’re just doing a small section of lawn.

You may opt not to aerate, but with or without that step you can use a product called Gypsum to continue to alleviate compaction – which is the kiss of death for any lawn. Gypsum is an all-natural, under-used product that helps improve soil conditions.

Another optional step is to put down topsoil. Your existing soil may be good enough, but if you decide to put down a thin layer of topsoil, I recommend a topsoil-to-compost 2 to 1 ratio to add much-needed nutrients that topsoil alone does not have. We offer topsoil in bags for spot seeding or bulk for over-seeding.

Once your topsoil is down, it’s time to choose your seed. It’s important to pick the right seed, which is based on how many hours of sunlight your lawn gets. We have custom-made, small-batch, locally sourced Van Wilgen’s grass seed available that is suited to fit all Connecticut environments. Options range from SeashoreMix seed for those whose lawns get salt spray to seed for deep Under Tree Shade mix.

Lay your seed down in a dense, single layer and at the same time put down a starter fertilizer. Both synthetic and organic starter fertilizer options are available.

Next, put down a cover, such as the weed-free straw we carry called Mainely Mulch or the GreenView product Seeding Success. This will hold the seed in place, hold the moisture in, stop the birds from eating it and help warm up the soil temperatures for quicker germination.

The most important part of the process is regular watering. All of your work will have been for nothing if you do not keep the seed damp daily – no puddles. As a general rule, you’ll want to water for a half-hour a day for 30 days, preferably before lunch. It may be necessary to water twice a day if the weather is particularly hot.

Now is the time to get this project underway. The soil still has a bit of warming up to do, but it’s best to get your over-seeding done before the summer sun comes blazing in and you’ll be on your way to the lawn you’ve spent your winter dreaming of!

Spring is the busiest time in your garden, and it can be easy to miss some important tasks that you’ll kick yourself for later. But good news! This spring checklist is customized for you—gardening in the New England climate—and it’s what we follow to keep our own gardens in tip-top shape to enjoy for months to come.
Stop by Van Wilgen’s for plants and supplies and we’re happy to answer your spring gardening questions.


Question: Can I still seed?

Answer: Absolutely, 100%, most indubitably, with no doubt, yes!!!!!!

Question: It is getting a little chilly out. Are you sure?

Answer: Absolutely, 100%, most indubitably, with no doubt, yes!!!! That is a good question though. It does feel a bit chillier out. I have been bundling up a bit more at night but grass likes the chill much more than I do. The warm daytime temperatures we have been experiencing this fall combined with the cooler nights make for perfect grass growing weather.

Question: Do I have to do anything different this time of the year than if I were seeding in the spring?

Answer: Not really. Seeding procedures are basically the same, however, you do get a teeny tiny break with watering. I say this with hesitation because if I give you an inch, I do not want you to take a mile. Meaning, if I tell you that you get to water a little less in the cooler fall, I am afraid you will not water at all! Moisture is still key to germination folks. Seed, whether it is hot or cool, still needs water to grow. Be sure that the seed feels damp daily. Remember, no puddles!

Question: If I seed, what kind of fertilizer do I put down? Do I still put down the Fall Lawn food?

Answer: I would prefer that you put down a Lawn Starter for a fertilizer with your new grass seed. But guess what folks?! I still want you to put down your Fall Lawn Food, just a little bit later. It is better to put Fall Lawn Food down after the last mow of the season. In other words, put your new grass seed with Starter Fertilizer, and in about a month, apply the Fall Lawn Food. This is the ultimate program for your new and existing lawn.

Question: What about Lime? People always mention Lime in the fall. Do I need it if I seed? Can I put it down with grass seed?

Answer: Lime, ah sweet lime. Yes, Lime this time of the year is great. Lime is slow to change the pH of your soil, so if you apply it in the fall, it will work its magic all winter and make for a better lawn next spring. You absolutely can put Lime down with a new grass seed. It will not hurt it at all or you can wait and put Lime down at the same time as your Fall Lawn Food, after the last mow of the season.

Question: What if it gets really cold and my new grass seed does not finish growing?

Answer: Have no fear, your grass will continue its growth in the spring as soil temperatures warm up.

Question: So are you telling me that my fall projects are not over yet for the year?

Answer: Absolutely, 100%, most indubitably, with no doubt, yes!!!!

Come see us at Van Wilgen’s. We would love to help!


*Van Wilgen’s Premium Grass Seed

*Starter Fertilizer

*Fall Lawn Food


Are thinking of planting a new lawn or just filling in your existing one? Don’t just think about it, do it! I am a huge fan of seeding, whether it is a brand new lawn, filling in bare patches, or thickening up your existing turf, now is the perfect time to tackle this project. Put a little sweat into your lawn. Mow, rake, aerate, seed, fertilize, and water… it is so worth it!

When doing a seeding project all of the above steps are important, but water is the key. If you are thirsty, so is your grass seed. Sounds silly? I am serious. The thirstier you are on any given day, the quicker your grass seed is drying out. Water is the difference between success and failure, so it’s important to do it right the first time! 

So, you just went to the refrigerator to get yourself another glass of ________(Fill in the blank with your beverage of choice.) This should be your signal to head outside and check your new grass seed. If it is dry, give it some water. Grass seed needs to stay moist every day. If it dries out, the seed will not even have a chance to split open. Grass seed is close to the surface so it can germinate, this is where the soil needs to stay damp. The top layer of soil can dry out quickly. The sunnier and windier the day is, the quicker the seed dries out. New seed does not need to be watered long, 30 minutes is usually sufficient. However, you may need to water 2X’s in a day. The sunnier the spot is, the more water it needs. Areas along driveways, walkways, curbs, and slopes tend to dry out quicker. Be sure to give these spots a little extra attention.

Is there a better time to water than others? Of course, there is. Morning is the best time to water, but the afternoon is acceptable too. The fall is the perfect time to seed because the soil is warm and nights are getting cooler, leaving a nice coating of morning dew. There may occasionally be enough dew to get you off the hook from watering! Be careful though, if it gets sunny through the day, the lawn may dry out quickly and need another watering in the afternoon. Try to avoid watering at all in the evening, however, if that is the only time you have to do it, then evening water is better than no water at all. New seedlings can get a disease called Pythium, which can wipe them out in a day if the seedlings remain too wet through the night.

Note: There is such a thing as over-watering. If you over-water your new seed, the seed may rot, wash away, or float above the soil. Be careful not to leave puddles or make mud pies out of your lawn. If this is the case, you are being too good of a caregiver of your newly seeded lawn.

It is a good idea to cover the seed with mulch. I really like Mainely Mulch. It is a weed-free straw/hay combo that covers new seeds nicely, holding in moisture, keeping birds from eating the seed, and slowing down erosion. The best thing about Mainely Mulch is you do not have to rake it up after the grass grows. It will biodegrade into the soil, adding a little bit of organic matter. A little extra bonus! Greenview’s Seed Accelerator is my favorite for smaller patches. It is a recycled paper mulch pellet with built-in starter fertilizer. You sprinkle the pellets right over the grass seed and water them in. They expand, hold in moisture, and fertilize at the same time!

Don’t be fooled. Just when you think you are done watering your new grass seed, you may have to keep going. Different types of grass germinate at different rates. Perennial Ryegrass is your quickest one to sprout, coming up in 5 to 7 days if conditions are right. Kentucky Blue is a beauty but you have to be patient since it can take up to 25 days to see any germination. Please do not stop watering just because you see a few green sprouts… There are a lot more to come.

Here is my rule of 3 for newly seeded lawns: In the first 3 weeks, water your grass seed 2 times per day for approximately 30 minutes. In the second 3 weeks, water your lawn, 3 times per week for a longer period of time, approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour. This will encourage a deeper root system and a much healthier lawn. Give your lawn one last treat around Thanksgiving. Feed it with a Fall lawn fertilizer by Greenview or Espoma. It will go to bed happy and healthy for its long winter nap.

Lawn & Plant Care