The Best Grass Seed for Overseeding of 2021

Overseeding creates a dense, lush stand of grass—and an overall healthier lawn.

By Glenda Taylor | Published Nov 3, 2021 9:03 AM

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Photo: depositphoto.com

The best grass seed for overseeding any lawn will depend on the existing type of grass, the prevailing climate, and the soil type. After a few years, even the best-kept lawns can start to look sparse and worn out due to drought, under-watering, overwatering, or even growing a grass variety that’s not well suited to the region.

Overseeding a lawn with a superior variety of grass seed at least once every three years will keep the yard looking its best while helping it resist drought and disease. Ahead, learn what to look for when selecting a seed type, and find out why the following varieties were chosen as the best grass seed blends for overseeding lawns in different regions.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed All-Purpose Mix
  2. RUNNER-UP: Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed High Traffic Mix
  3. MOST DROUGHT-TOLERANT: Jonathan Green 10316 Black Beauty Grass Seed
  4. BEST FOR SHADE: Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Dense Shade Mix
  5. BEST FOR BLUEGRASS LAWNS: Scotts Turf Builder Grass Kentucky Bluegrass Mix
  6. BEST FOR CLAY SOIL: Jonathan Green 10323 Black Beauty Ultra Mixture
  7. BEST FOR WARM CLIMATES: Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Southern Gold Mix
The Best Grass Seed for Overseeding Option

Photo: depositphoto.com

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Grass Seed for Overseeding

For the best results, choose a grass seed type that will grow well in your yard. The amount of sunlight the lawn receives, the general climate, and the kind of grass desired are all up for consideration. Additionally, the size of the yard and the seed’s coverage rate will play a role in how much seed you’ll need to overseed the lawn.

Types of Grass Seed

Not all types of grass seed grow well in all areas—some varieties are better suited to cold climates, while others thrive only in subtropical environments. When choosing grass seed for overseeding, select a type based on what grows best in your area. The best grass seed is one that will thrive in the specific region where it’s planted.

For example, grass seed that grows well in the Pacific Northwest may not grow in southern climates. In general, more cool-season grasses are grown from seed than are warm-season grasses. Several warm-season grasses, such as St. Augustine, are propagated by plugs rather than seeds, so overseeding is more common in regions with cool winters.

  • Fescue: Among the fastest-growing grasses, fescue features several types with various textures. It’s prized for its drought resistance, will withstand moderate traffic, and grows in both sunny and shady spots.
  • Kentucky bluegrass: Dense and durable, Kentucky bluegrass is a self-spreading, disease-resistant turf option that will tolerate cold temperatures. It’s not as drought resistant as fescue but provides a lush lawn that tolerates high traffic. The best Kentucky bluegrass seed often comes with a coating that absorbs moisture to help keep the seeds damp until they germinate.
  • Perennial ryegrass: Useful for overseeding moderately cool- or warm-season grasses, perennial ryegrass requires a lot of water and doesn’t grow well in frigid climates.
  • Buffalograss: Prized for its low maintenance, buffalograss thrives in the Midwest and Great Plains. It’s slow to green up in the spring and goes dormant early in the fall, however.
  • Bermuda: Strictly a warm-weather grass, Bermuda produces a lush lawn in sunny yards and is drought tolerant. It doesn’t like cold weather and it doesn’t tolerate deep shade.

Climate and Sun Exposure

Researchers and seed manufacturers are busy hybridizing grass seed types to thrive in specific climates, such as the warm Southeast or the rainy West Coast, and to grow in harsh sun or dense shade. Most grass seed varieties grow well with full to partial sun, but new and improved versions will tolerate shade as well.

Buyers can often find specialized seeds within the same seed family. For instance, several options are available just within the fescue grass seed type. These include hard fescue that grows in colder climates and high elevations, creeping fescue that will grow even in deep shade, and fastest-growing grasses that withstands heavy traffic but doesn’t like hot weather.

Coverage Area

The amount of seed necessary for overseeding a lawn depends on the type, whether the seed is coated or bare, and the overall condition of the existing lawn. The best rule of thumb is to follow the manufacturer’s coverage recommendations that appear on the bag of seeds.

The coverage area for coated grass seeds is not as high as uncoated seeds because coated seeds are larger, so fewer seeds are present per pound. Spread rate varies by grass type as well, and this will appear on the package. K31 fescue, for example, has a spread rate of 5 to 10 pounds per 1,000 feet, with 10 pounds being the average for establishing new lawns and 5 pounds as the average for overseeding. For the best results, follow the spread rate suggested by the manufacturer.

Low Maintenance

Keeping a lawn healthy and beautiful requires diligence and proper attention. Achieving a maintenance-free lawn isn’t possible, but you can reduce the amount of mowing, fertilizing, dethatching, and watering by choosing to overseed with a grass variety that grows well in the specific region. Generally, a low-growing grass variety, such as buffalograss, requires fewer mowings than a tall-growing variety, such as fescue.

If watering the lawn is a particularly tedious task, a drought-tolerant variety, such as Bermuda grass, is among the best options for a low-maintenance yard in warm, sunny climates. What is considered low maintenance in one region may be high maintenance in another, so consider choosing a variety that’s well suited or native to the area.

Our Top Picks

Before choosing a grass seed for overseeding, consider the type of existing grass in the lawn. If it’s growing well, overseeding with the same type is recommended. If the lawn is struggling to survive, sparse, and full of weeds or patchy, consider overseeding with a better variety to correct the existing problems. The following seeds are meant for different regions and lawns, but each is a standout in its category.

Best Overall

The Best Grass Seed for Overseeding Option: Scotts Turf Builder Quality All Purpose Mix
Photo: amazon.com

Among the top grass seed producers, Scotts offers more grass seed varieties than any other manufacturer. Their Turf Builder All-Purpose Mix is among the best options for those looking to overseed lawns in mid-to-northern zones. The all-purpose mix features coated seeds, and a 20-pound bag will treat up to 8,000 square feet when overseeding.

The mix is listed as 99.99 percent weed-free and contains Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and fine fescue. The seeds are specially selected to grow in both sunny and shady areas. The coating on the seeds is designed to absorb and hold moisture, so the seeds don’t dry out before germination.

Product Specs

  • Season type: Moderately cool season
  • Overseeding coverage: Up to 8,000 square feet (20-pound bag)
  • Coating: Yes

Pros

  • Coated seeds to retain moisture
  • Seed blend for both sun and shade
  • 99.99 percent weed-free

Cons

  • Not suitable for hot climates

Runner-up

The Best Grass Seed for Overseeding Option:Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed High Traffic Mix
Photo: amazon.com

Coming in as the runner-up is another Scotts product, their High Traffic Mix, which will withstand plenty of fun and activities from an active family. The mix contains a variety of high-quality cool-season grasses that will thrive in full sun but also tolerate light shade.

The High Traffic mix features Scotts’ unique 4-in-1 WaterSmart coating that absorbs moisture and retains it to increase germination rates. The coating also includes a starter fertilizer to help the new seedlings get off to a healthy start. In addition, it offers a measure of protection against lawn diseases. A 7-pound bag of this mix will cover up to 3,500 square feet of an existing lawn.

Product Specs

  • Season type: Cool season
  • Overseeding coverage:  Up to 3,500 square feet (7-pound bag)
  • Coating: Yes

Pros

  • Stands up to high traffic
  • Good for sunny lawns
  • 4-in-1 protective coating

Cons

  • Tolerates only light shade
  • Not for warm climates

Most Drought-Tolerant

The Best Grass Seed for Overseeding Option: Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed High Traffic Mix
Photo: amazon.com

In areas where dry spells are expected, Jonathan Green Black Beauty Grass Seed shines. It features a blend of high-quality tall fescue seed that creates a dark green lawn in mid-to-northern regions. The proprietary breeding of this Black Beauty hybrid has created grass blades that are slightly waxy, which helps protect the plant from moisture loss and disease.

Black Beauty quickly develops an extensive root system—up to 4 feet deep in some soils—and it tolerates heavy clay soils where other lawn grasses don’t grow well. A 50-pound bag of this super-tough seed will overseed up to 15,000 square feet of an existing lawn, and it will add strength and resilience to any mid- or cool-season lawn.

Product Specs

  • Season type: Mid-to-cool season
  • Overseeding coverage: Up to 15,000 square feet (50-pound bag)
  • Coating: No

Pros

  • Highly drought-tolerant mix
  • Grass leaves develop a protective waxy coating
  • Turf-type, tall fescue

Cons

  • Doesn’t tolerate hot climates

Best for Shade

The Best Grass Seed for Overseeding Option: Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Dense Shade Mix
Photo: amazon.com

Scotts offers a tall fescue blend ideal for growing in shady spots that receive as little as 3 hours of sunlight per day. The seeds come with Scotts’ WaterSmart coated technology to absorb moisture and retain it to increase germination. After the seeds sprout, the coating, which contains a starter fertilizer and a protective pesticide, helps the tender seedlings grow while repelling insects and diseases.

Dense Shade Mix has been bred precisely for shade, so it doesn’t grow quite as well in full sun, even though it is a fescue blend. It should be used in conjunction with other types of fescue when reseeding an entire lawn to create consistent growth in all areas. A 3-pound bag of Scotts Dense Shade Mix will overseed up to 750 square feet of an existing lawn.

Product Specs

  • Season type: Cool season
  • Overseeding coverage: Up to 750 square feet (3-pound bag)
  • Coating: Yes

Pros

  • Will grow in dense shade
  • Attractive tall fescue
  • Protective coating

Cons

  • Not suitable for hot climates
  • Doesn’t tolerate full sun

Best for Bluegrass Lawns

The Best Grass Seed for Overseeding Option: Scotts Turf Builder Grass Kentucky Bluegrass Mix
Photo: amazon.com

For bluegrass enthusiasts, check out Scotts Kentucky Bluegrass mix, which provides a fine-blade grass texture and a measure of drought resistance in a true bluegrass seed.

Like other Scotts grass seed mixes, this bluegrass mix has been treated with its 4-in-1 WaterSmart coating to help the seeds remain moist before germination. After the seeds sprout, the coating ingredients offer fertilizer and disease protection to get the seedlings off to a healthy start. A 7-pound bag of Kentucky Bluegrass Mix will overseed up to 4,725 square feet of existing lawn and can be used in sunny spots and areas with light shade. This mix grows best in the northern half of the country, and it is moderately drought resistant.

Product Specs

  • Season type: Cool season
  • Overseeding coverage: Up to 4,725 square feet (7-pound bag)
  • Coating: Yes

Pros

  • High-quality Kentucky bluegrass seeds
  • Coated to maximize moisture and protect seedlings
  • Moderately drought resistant

Cons

  • Not designed for use in deep shade
  • Not well suited for hot climates

Best for Clay Soil

The Best Grass Seed for Overseeding Option: Jonathan Green 10323 Black Beauty Ultra Mixture
Photo: amazon.com

Growing a lush stand of grass in clay soil is challenging at best, but this Jonathan Green seed mixture is up to the task. The mix, a combination of fescues, Kentucky bluegrass, and perennial ryegrass, produces a deep green lawn in sunny and shady areas.

The Jonathan Green seed hybridization process produces genetically enhanced grasses that feature a slightly waxy coating on their blades, which is beneficial for maintaining moisture and remaining healthy in drought conditions. The coating also increases the lawn’s ability to resist diseases and keeps the grass blades from fraying when mowed. A 25-pound bag of this Jonathan Green mix will overseed up to 10,000 square feet.

Product Specs

  • Season type: Cool-to-midrange season
  • Overseeding coverage: Up to 10,000 square feet (25-pound bag)
  • Coating: No

Pros

  • Deep roots that thrive in clay soil
  • Dark green color
  • Will grow in partial shade
  • Grass blades develop waxy protective coating

Cons

  • Not suitable for hot climates

Best for Warm Climates

The Best Grass Seed for Overseeding Option: Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Southern Gold Mix
Photo: amazon.com

Many warm-season grasses are grown from plugs, so this hybrid warm-season seed mix may be just what southern growers are looking for. Scotts Turf Builder Southern Gold Mix contains a variety of warm-season fescues that have been purposely bred in the south region of the country for hardiness in hot temps.

Southern Gold is well suited for lawns as far south as Texas and as far east as the Atlantic. The unique blend of seeds produces a lawn that will withstand harsh summer conditions. The blend is also tolerant of moderate shade and is drought, insect, and disease resistant. A 20-pound bag of Southern Gold will overseed up to 5,000 square feet of lawn. Like other Scotts seed mixes, this warm season blend has been treated with WaterSmart coating for protection and moisture retention.

Product Specs

  • Season type: Warm season
  • Overseeding coverage: Up to 5,000 square feet (20-pound bag)
  • Coating: Yes

Pros

  • Suitable for hot climates
  • Drought and insect tolerant
  • Will tolerate moderate shade

Cons

  • Not designed for use in northern climates

Our Verdict

It’s tough to beat the high quality of Scotts grass seeds, which are often coated to help the seeds retain moisture as they germinate, leading to high germination rates. Scotts Turf Builder All-Purpose Mix is well suited for most types of moderately cool-season lawns, and Scotts Turf Builder High Traffic Mix is optimal for creating a tough turf where children and pets can play.

How We Chose the Best Grass Seed for Overseeding

Extensive product research went into selecting this roundup of the best grass seeds for overseeding. While grass seeds are limited to just a few well-known producers, today’s hybridized seeds and revolutionary seed coatings are capable of producing lush, resilient lawns.

We selected the above products based on brand reputation, the quality of the seeds—including the percentage of weed seeds in the mix—and how well each performed in its stated category or region. We opted for seeds that will strengthen and enhance existing lawns without the need for frequent watering. Being drought and disease resistant topped our list of requirements.

Tips on How to Overseed a Lawn

Overseeding an existing lawn is much simpler than putting in a new lawn from scratch because the grass is already established, and there’s no need to till or rake the soil. For the best germination results, consider the following tips.

  • Mow the lawn first and bag the clippings. Shorter grass will allow the new seedlings to receive more sunlight.
  • Rake the yard to remove leaves or dethatch if a heavy layer of thatch (organic matter that forms a mat) is present at ground level.
  • Add soil amendments before overseeding if necessary. The best way to do this is to have the soil tested by a local extension agency to determine if it lacks certain nutrients and then apply them before overseeding.
  • Add seeds to a drop spreader or a broadcast spreader and set the distribution rate to match the package’s recommended spread rate.
  • Water daily to keep the seeds moist—but not so much that the ground is soggy or water is pooling.

Benefits of Overseeding

The most significant result of overseeding is the ability to grow a lush, dense lawn, but there are some other benefits as well.

  • Dense grass is less susceptible to soil erosion because the additional grass roots hold the soil in place.
  • Overseeding with today’s improved seed varieties will boost lawn health and make the grass more resistant to disease and insects.
  • A healthy lawn boosts curb appeal and is a strong selling point if a house is on the market.
  • The healthier the lawn, the less likely weeds are to get a foothold. This reduces the need for frequent applications of chemical herbicides, which is more beneficial for the environment.

FAQs

While overseeding a lawn is a relatively straightforward project, grass seed can be pricey, depending on the type, so it’s normal to have a few questions.

Q. When should I put my new grass seed down?

If you’re overseeding cool-season grasses, such as fescue, seed in early fall, which will give the new seedlings time to develop before winter. For seeding warm-season grasses, such as Bermuda, overseed in late spring when soil temperatures are around 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

Q. How do I protect my new grass seed?

Water the lawn daily for the first 2 to 3 weeks after overseeding to provide adequate moisture for the seeds to germinate. Do not mow until the new seedlings have reached the height you usually mow.

Q. How much grass seed do I need?

This will vary depending on the type of seed and whether the seed is coated. The seed’s spread rate will be listed on the product packaging.

Q. Can I use my spreader to sow lawn grass seed?

Yes, a drop spreader or a broadcast spreader are suitable for overseeding the lawn. Overseeding lawn equipment also includes machines that make slits in the soil and then deposit the seeds in the slits. These machines, called “grass drills,” can be rented from landscape rental companies.

Q. Can I cover the seed?

Covering grass seed is traditionally limited to newly seeded lawns, not overseeded lawns. If you’re seeding bare patches where no grass is growing, feel free to cover the seed lightly with a layer of loose straw or use a seed product that contains mulch in the mix.

Q. Should I have ryegrass in my lawn seed mixture?

Perennial ryegrass is a mid-to-cool season grass that can be grown by itself or mixed with other cool-season grasses. Annual ryegrass may be found in warm-season mixes because it germinates quickly and provides a cover for the slower-to-germinate warm-season grasses.