How does an overseeder work and is it really worth it?

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We answer common questions such as How does an overseeder work, How do you use an Overseeder, and  Is overseeding worth it in this article.

When it comes to lawn care, there are several yard maintenance equipment and machines you need.

The one which we are going to talk about here is the overseeder, an expert seed planter that can make your life easier when renovating a yard.

Of course, there are several good alternatives including broadcast spreaders but in general, an overseeder has superior results.

To brief you, the article will answer these key questions to help you make an informed decision:

  • How does an overseeder work
  • Is overseeding worth it?
  • How do you use an Overseeder?
  • How much does it cost to rent an overseeder? (Is renting an overseeder worth it?)
  • How much does it cost to buy an overseeder?

Let us get started:

How does an overseeder work?

The overseeder works by combining three essential functions: verticutting, seed placement, and soil coverage.

The operation of the overseeder is pretty straightforward as you will learn below.

Here is exactly how an overseeder works:

The machine first cuts into the soil- the slicing action explains why it is alternately called a slice/slit seeder- with blades to create furrows.

Your grass seeds are then dumped into the furrows.

Keep in mind that the concave disk blades in the machine keep the slits open while the grass seed is being dropped.

This means the seed is in direct contact with soil, which encourages quicker germination and establishment.

I should add that you can adjust the slitting depth depending on how deep you want it to penetrate the soil to achieve desired results (or based on the recommendations of your seed supplier).

With that, I’m sure you will no longer ask “How does an overseeder work?”. Right?

Let’s now turn to the other questions…


Is overseeding worth it?

Overseeding is crucial if you are dreaming of owning a healthy, luxuriant lawn.

You see, while fertilizing helps, grass plants will inevitably start reproducing at a slower rate after several years.

The result is your lawn growing thinner and unhealthy and soon, weeds may start to overtake it.

That is where overseeding comes in: Seeding new grass seeds over the existing lawn will go a long way in filling in gaps caused by worsening reproduction.

There is no denying that it can be quite some work but the outcome- a thick and robust lawn- makes the effort well worth it.

In fact, if you overseed a lawn the correct way, your lawn could look like it is on steroids in the coming months.


How do you use an overseeder?

For the most part, an overseeder is not a difficult machine to use for total renovations (or repairing large bare areas).

Here are the typical steps:

Before overseeding

  1. Investigate what is causing your lawn to increasingly look patchy and worn out.

It is important to tackle these problems (for example insufficient watering, excess thatch, neglect, etc.) unless you want to keep overseeding.

  1. Mow your grass

The lowest setting is recommended when mowing.

  1. Dethatch your lawn

Next, check your yard for thatch and dethatch if necessary.

Excessive thatch layer (more than ½” thick) will hinder the penetration of the overseeder.

Note that the loosened debris should be cleared up before proceeding.

  1. Aerate the lawn

Where the soil is significantly compacted, it is a good idea to aerate it.

Quick Tip: If you intend to fertilize your lawn, it is best to do so prior to overseeding.

How to use the overseeder

Step 1: Fill the overseeder

Fill your overseeder with the correct type of grass seed you want to sow.

Step 2: Make the necessary adjustments

Now adjust the machine appropriately.

Here you set the manufacturer-suggested drop rate (it is typically indicated under your seed box lid) plus the slit depth.

Regarding the ideal depth of slits/miniature furrows to set, the determining factor is the grass seed type you’re using.

However, it is generally not recommended to go deeper than 1/2 the length of your grass seed husk

Step 3: Run the machine over the yard

Next, start to walk behind the overseeder or to tow it behind a tow vehicle.

In most cases, you should make 2 passes at half (½) the application rate (for your chosen grass seed) each pass at right angles/in crisscross pattern.

For the best results, you should try to maintain a steady pace.

After overseeding

  1. Water the lawn

At the beginning, water heavily immediately but then go lighter for between 10 –14 days to keep the soil moist until the germination is complete.

  1. Mow the lawn

Mow the lawn after your grass grows tall enough (2 ½” – 3 inches). Be sure not to remove more than 1” of grass blade with every pass.

You’re now on course to have the most luscious lawn in the entire neighborhood!


Overseeder vs broadcast spreader

The main drawback of spreading/broadcasting seeds – a broadcast spreader literary spreads seed in all directions- is that it doesn’t ensure maximum soil-to-seed contact since a great deal of the seed will stay on top of thatch.

For this reason, you’re more likely to realize reduced germination compared to when an overseeder is used.

Not even aerating the lawn first will guarantee good germination rates – sure, prior aeration may improve germination but attaining the same rates as overseeding is a long shot.

Besides, an overseeder tends to take less seed than a broadcast spreader again because most of the seeds gets directly into the soil where they’re likely to germinate.

That said, broadcast spreaders are less expensive and simpler to use.

How much does it cost to rent an overseeder? (Is renting an overseeder worth it?)

The cost of renting depends on your location and the specifications of the overseeder you’re looking for. Go to RentalHQ for an accurate estimate.

How much does it cost to buy an overseeder?

From our market survey, buying an overseeder will set you back anything from $2500 to over $4500.

The other option is to purchase a used model- these are generally cheaper- from marketplaces such as EBay.

Recommended overseeder brands

If you’re unsure about the best brand to hire/rent, these are the top-rated overseeder machine brands in the market to consider:


Watch an overseeder in action

Final words

The operating principle of an overseeder is straightforward: it cuts slits in soil and have the hopper dumping the seed out.

The key thing is planting grass seeds directly into your existing turf is an easier strategy to fill in the bare spots and can ultimately enhance your lawn’s general health and appearance.

Of course, the main issue with overseeders is that it is one of the lawn care tools not many own so you can’t count on your neighbor to have it in their garage.

As such, we leave it on you to evaluate if it is feasible to purchase one or it makes more sense to rent it.

If you have settled for rental, check your neighborhood lawn care firm/ local gardening retailer.

Shop the best overseeders on Amazon



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1 thought on “How does an overseeder work and is it really worth it?”

  1. Thanks for your excellent article. However, every push overseeder I’ve looked at drops the seed first in front of the blades rather than behind. Have you found any push or self propelled overseeder that drops the seed BEHIND the blades directly into the furrow?


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