Lawn Seed #728853 - Ask Extension

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Lawn Seed #728853

Asked October 05, 2020, 2:16 PM EDT

My lawn has about a 50/50 mix of full shade and sunny areas (not full sun). I want to over seed next year and am trying to understand my best seed mix. I see mixes for “sunny” and mixes for “shady” (SS5000 and SS6000 at seedsuperstore.com). Could these be mixed 50/50 and applied over the entire lawn? I would presume that would result in turf of the seed best suited to the area it landed? Or, ought I put down a shady mix where shady and a sunny mix where sunny? I am grateful for your input.

Saginaw County Michigan

Expert Response

You've picked the right time to start planning what to do.  Fall is the best time to seed/overseed your lawn as the temperatures are cooler, there is adequate moisture and a dormant period (of rest) after establishment.  I recommend completing the process between mid-August and mid-September.
My first recommendation is to do a soil test to learn the soil type, pH, fertility and more so you can supplement what the soil is already providing.  You could do that test in the spring.  More info here:
https://www.canr.msu.edu/uploads/files/Soil_Test9-12RS.pdf
You don't say how much sun (hours per day) your 'sunny' lawn gets....
https://www.johnson.k-state.edu/lawn-garden/agent-articles/miscellaneous/defining-sun-requirements-f...  <- good info here on shade level definition
https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/low_maintenance_lawns_in_the_midwest <- good info here on grass varieties for sun and shade use.
https://extension.umn.edu/lawn-care/renovating-lawn-quality-and-sustainability <- good info here on renovation processes.
Info in these articles on overseeding to become familiar with the process:
https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/late_season_lawn_seeding
https://www.extension.iastate.edu/news/yard-and-garden-how-overseed-lawn
https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/lawn-renovation-and-overseeding
https://ag.umass.edu/sites/ag.umass.edu/files/fact-sheets/pdf/renovation_overseeding.pdf
Unless you are overseeding a low maintenance lawn, don't buy cheap seed as you might not be satisfied with the results.  The soil test will guide you with a fertilization recommendation.  I suspect you may be able to use a shade seed mix on the whole lawn if your sunny areas don't receive 4-6 hours of full sun each day.  It's OK to buy both a shade mix and a sunnier mix and overseed them over the appropriate lawn areas.  Mixing both together produces a seed mix not ideally suited to either sun or shade (less bang for your buck).  Talk to a local nursery or 2 for recommendations on a seed mix or a product off the shelf.  Another thought: to get more sun on your shady lawn consider having a certified arborist prune or thin your trees to let more light reach the ground.   You can find an arborist here: https://www.treesaregood.org/findanarborist/findanarborist
Dick Moldenhauer Replied October 05, 2020, 9:26 PM EDT

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