Green Thumbs Up...

Whirligig seed spreader.

Whirligig seed spreader.

...to overseeding the lawn now.

It will pay you back in summer free time and less aggravation.

Bluegrass and fescue lawns are favored all over the U.S., with the exception of the deep south. These grasses are cool season plants. Like peas, lettuce and cabbage, they grow vigorously when it's cool and wane in the heat.

However, unlike cool season vegetables, lawn gets pounded so its roots gasp for air. (Yup, roots respire.) Weeds take hold in openings made by feet, insects or the stress of heat and drought. Gardeners wail about those lawns during summer: "Look at all these bare patches!" and "My gardens would look great if not for the raggedy lawn around them!"

Head off that irritation this year. Rake, aerate and overseed your lawn during its prime time to get grass seed growing in every gap.

Aerate, rake and overseed

Aerate large areas with a core aerator machine; smaller sections with a garden fork inserted repeatedly and levered to make the soil pop.

If you cannot aerate, don't walk away. Promise your lawn you will do it sometime soon. Then move on to raking.

Rake to pull debris up and allow grass seed to fall on bare ground. No need to "Dethatch." Just use a stiff rake.

Then, sow new grass seed. If you've never sown grass seed, watch Steven's tips on our Youtube channel, Get Ahead in Early Spring, part 8.

Do this now when spring rains will relieve you of watering chores and new grass will be rooted in time for the lawn's first mowing. That lawn will have far fewer weeds this summer.

Water lightly and frequently to grow a great lawn.

You should know: You should not water lawn weekly and deep

The much touted "water deep and infrequently" is entirely wrong for lawn? It sounds good: Water to wet the soil to a depth of several inches so grass roots will "follow" the water. Nevertheless, it's wrong.

Research at Michigan State University debunked the deep, infrequent theory decades ago. Golf course managers listened and learned but the general public couldn't be coaxed from the old lore.

Bluegrass and fescue grow best in cool air and soil only a little warmer. Research shows that the grass plants' roots lengthen in spring. Then in summer when the air and the soil heat up the plants are unable to photosynthesize. They spend more and more time "dormant." They draw up the starch reserves from their roots for vital functions because their leaves cannot create sugars through photosynthesis.

As a result, grass roots shrink in summer. They become significantly less deep. They cannot grow because they are starving. Deeper water is useless to them.

A little water applied frequently is better because it wets the actual summer root zone and temporarily cools the air and soil. For a while, the grass can function.

Rather than one inch of water applied weekly, research proved that about one tenth inch per day applied during the hottest hours produced healthier, thicker lawn. And it saved water.

Try it this year.