Do not walk on your lawn after you finish overseeding. Grass seedlings can easily be damaged by foot traffic, as well as by pets, vehicles, and mowers. You will know your new grass is ready for minimal foot traffic once it has reached a height of 3 inches (7.5 cm) and it resists being pulled up from the roots. Even then, your grass needs some time to mature before it can withstand regular use. Wait until it survives its first few mowings and begins to resemble the older grass before you allow pets and children to play on the grass.
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What Happens if You Walk on an Overseeded Lawn Too Soon?
Walking on new grass seed or young grass can easily kill the grass you worked so hard to overseed. Grass seedlings are extremely fragile, and can be crushed by light foot traffic. Once you have overseeded your lawn and topdressed it with compost, stay off the lawn as much as possible. Water is essential for new grass seeds, so you should only walk on an overseeded lawn if it is necessary for watering.
How Long Should You Stay Off the Lawn After Overseeding?
Do not walk on your lawn for 4–8 weeks after overseeding. However, time is not the best measure of whether or not your lawn is ready to handle foot traffic. Some types of grass take longer to germinate than others. Additionally, cold weather can delay the germination process or growth of both cool-season grasses and warm-season grasses, which can increase the amount of time you need to stay off the lawn. If you are using an alternative overseeding tactic, such as dormant seeding, the timeline for foot traffic may be different.
4 Signs Your Grass is Ready for Foot Traffic
Because the type of grass you overseeded may take longer to grow than others, it’s essential to check for signs that your entire lawn is ready for you to walk on it. Here’s how to know if your lawn is ready for foot traffic:
It’s Reached a Mature Height
Your grass can handle light foot traffic once it’s reached a height of 3 inches (7.5 cm). So, if you’re waiting to walk on your lawn, check the height of the bright green, thin grass sprouts. You can use a ruler to measure the height of the grass from the soil to the top of the blade. If the grass is less than 3 inches tall, it is not ready to be walked on.
It Has Started to Develop Roots
Test if your new grass is ready to stand up to foot traffic by checking the strength of its roots. Grasp a few of the new sprouts near the base and give a gentle tug. If the grass plants resist being uprooted, they have begun developing roots. This means they are likely to survive small amounts of foot traffic. If the grass pulls up easily, do not walk on it. Walking on grass that has not yet developed roots can easily uproot and kill it.
It Responds Well to Mowing
If the new grass passes the height and root tests after overseeding, it’s ready for small amounts of foot traffic. However, it’s not prepared to hold up to regular use. Once your overseeded lawn is ready for mowing, observe how it responds to mowing. If it appears healthy after 3–5 mowings, it can handle unrestricted foot traffic. If the new grass struggles after its first few mowings, allow time for the grass to recover before walking on it.
It Blends in With Your Existing Grass
A sure sign that your overseeded lawn can be walked on without fear is if the new grass is starting to blend in with the older grass. As grass matures, the color changes from bright green to a slightly less vibrant color. The grass blades will often grow wider and some grass types may start to develop stems. An overseeded lawn that appears mature and uniform in appearance is ready to be walked on without worry.
How Long Should Dogs Stay Off Grass After Overseeding?
You should keep dogs off your overseeded lawn until the new grass has been mowed 3–5 times. This may be up to 3 months after overseeding. Grass that is a few inches tall and has just started to take root can handle light foot traffic, but is easily destroyed by dogs. So, it’s essential to give your pets an alternative area to play and relieve themselves as your overseeded lawn fills in.
- Prevent your dogs from using your lawn until the grass has been mowed 3–5 times after overseeding.
- Dog foot traffic, urine, and feces are extremely harmful to new grass.
Not only is foot traffic by dogs extremely harmful to young grass—dogs relieving themselves on your lawn can quickly kill your new grass sprouts. Pet urine and feces kill grass seedlings quickly. It is best to keep your dogs off an overseeded lawn until the grass is mature. Otherwise, you may have to repair a lawn destroyed by dogs.
Do You Need to Stay Off Lawn After Overseeding?
In order to encourage a green lawn, it’s essential to stay off your grass after overseeding. You will know your grass is ready to be walked on by looking for these signs:
Signs Grass is Ready for Light Foot Traffic:
- The grass is 3 inches (7.5 cm) tall.
- When gently tugged, the new grass sprouts resist being uprooted.
Signs Grass is Ready for Regular Use by People and Pets:
- New grass appears healthy after 3–5 mowings.
- The new grass has a mature color and appearance.
By following these guidelines you will know exactly when your grass is ready for you to walk on it for maintenance and care, as well as when it is ready for regular use by your family. Because grass types mature at different rates, it’s essential to look for these signs to be sure your grass can be walked on.