Slice Seeder Vs Overseeder – Which is the Best Lawn Tool?

Last Updated on November 12, 2021 by Grow with Bovees

Does your once beautiful yard now just consist of a patchy lawn with worn-out or bare areas?

Sounds like it’s time to look at renovating that lawn and turning it back into the lush green expanse that you deserve!

But what’s the best way to rejuvenate it? If you’re considering the question slice seeder vs overseeder, we’ve got you covered!

If marking out your lawn into neat squares and spreading the grass seed by hand sounds like a bit of a hit-and-miss affair, (not to mention a real chore!) then you need to look at a modern-day method of planting your new grass.

You can now get motorized gardening equipment that helps sow and plant seeds quickly and efficiently, cutting out a lot of the hand preparation and resulting in a much better job.

The two main techniques for lawn repair are slice seeding using a slice seeder machine with a blade underneath and overseeding using an overseeder or broadcast spreader.

Note that sometimes a slice seeder machine is also referred to as an overseeder as well (just to make it confusing!) but for the purposes of this article, we’re going to keep the two terms separate.

Always wanting to help lawn owners, the team at Bovees decided to take a look at these two methods and compare the types of lawn equipment involved so that you can decide which is best for you.

Let’s get going with our slice seeder vs overseeder comparison!

What’s the Difference Between Slice Seeding vs Overseeding?

While both slice overseeding and slit seeding can help rejuvenate your established lawn, they serve a different purpose, and which one you use will depend on the circumstances.

Slice seeding is the fastest way to plant seeds and get the quickest growth of new grass.

This method actually plants the grass seeds in the soil and gives them the best chances of germinating whilst providing protection from birds and the elements. 

Overseeding is used if you already have a decent amount of grass and just want to thicken it up.

You’re basically just spreading the seed on top of the soil so not all the seeds will grow, and they are at risk of being eaten or washed away, but it is quicker to do.

Aerating the lawn will help get better results when using both techniques, but especially so when using an overseeder.

Sounds like a lot of hard work, but using a machine will make it a lot easier. Using a tow behind aerator, such as an Agri-Fab tow plug aerator, will also make life easier.

Let’s take a look at these now.

What is a Slice Seeder?

Slice seeding is done with a piece of equipment called a slice seeder or slit seeder.

The way it works is that it uses steel blades creating furrows underneath the body to slice into the existing grass and drops seeds into the furrows before covering them back over again. 

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Not all slice seeders are created equal though as some will drop seeds in front of the blades and some behind. 

Some expert planters think that a slice seeder that drops at the front is less efficient as it can damage the seed as it digs into the soil with the cylindrical blades.

However, many professionals still use this type, so we don’t think it’s that much of a problem.

Either way this is a great technique for planting grass seed with many benefits over other methods, but with a couple of drawbacks as well.

What is a Slit Seeder?

Just to clear up any confusion, this is actually just another name for a slice seeder, so don’t get confused if you see us use both terms here. Slit seeder vs slice seeder, they’re both the same!

Pros and Cons of a Slice Seeder

Pros

  • By slicing into the ground and mixing seed into the furrows it creates, a slice seeder gives faster grass seed germination through direct seed to soil contact.
  • Prevents birds and other wildlife from eating the seed.
  • Protects against seed displacement by strong winds and heavy rain.
  • Grass can germinate in just a couple of weeks. Encourages grass to grow quicker than other methods with strong grass roots.
  • Multiple adjustments for lawn slicing depth, adjustable blades, and precision seed dropping rate to cater for all situations.
  • Aeration beforehand is not always necessary as the blades do till the soil to a certain extent.
  • Gives a better distribution of seeds and an even planting bed.

Cons

  • A slice seeder is an expensive item of garden equipment, so maybe best to rent rather than buy.
  • Takes some skill to operate and to get the best results.
  • Requires proper care and maintenance to keep the cylindrical blades rust-free and the machine in good condition. Unclean blades can rust and spread disease.
  • Does initially damage the lawn structure so may not be best for an established lawn grass surface
  • Does use a lot of seed if adjustments are not set correctly.
  • Possibility of damage by hammering of seed into the soil.

What is an Overseeder?

Overseeding, as the name suggests and for the purposes of our comparison, is a method of spreading grass seed by scattering it over an established lawn using a broadcast seed spreader or overseeder. 

Of course, this can also be done by hand-spreading seeds.

It’s best to use this method if you have mostly healthy grass with just a few thin or brown patches and just want to thicken it up to get a lush green lawn.

Overseeding is usually done using a manually driven broadcast spreader. The area will need to be prepared beforehand by mowing a little shorter than normal and then doing some aeration & dethatching if required.

Aeration creates holes in the lawn and is probably the most important thing to do as it promotes healthier soil and gives the seed the best chance at germination, especially with a summer-weary lawn.

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Once the prep is done, then it’s simply a case of setting up the manual seeder correctly depending on seeds type, filling the seed container, and walking the overseeder over the area.

Pros and Cons of a Broadcast Spreader (Overseeding)

Pros

  • Ideal for reviving worn and tired lawns and spreading seeds over the entire lawn surface.
  • Unlike slice seeding, does not cause any soil damage unless you aerate beforehand.
  • Can be done soon after slice seeding if coverage is not complete.
  • An easier process with less chance of errors.
  • Broadcast spreaders or a manual seeder are much cheaper than slice seeders and require less maintenance.
  • Does not dig over the seeds that are dropped, so less chance of damage.

Cons

  • More chance of seeds being eaten by animals, pets, heavy foot traffic, rain, and wind.
  • Care is needed to avoid inaccurate seed spreading to make sure there is no over or under-seeding in any one patch.
  • The chance of good seed germination rates is lower than with a slice seeder.
  • The lawn will need frequent and regular watering irrespective of the season.
  • Seeds can end up being deposited on paths and flower beds.
  • Need to aerate the soil to grow roots deeper.

Next Up: What about Aeration — Is It Really Needed?

During the life of your lawn, there’s a good chance that the underlying soil and lawn thatch will become compacted which inhibits new grass growth and can hinder overseeding.

Aeration helps with this by punching tiny holes into the ground so that air, water, and nutrients are more readily absorbed and that roots grow deeply. It also aids in reducing stormwater runoff.

By doing this before overseeding with a spreader, the newly created holes create the ideal little pockets for the grass seeds to fall into, helping get that all-important seed to soil direct contact.

When aerating it’s best to do several rounds of cross aeration across the ground to achieve the ideal planting bed.

Aeration and overseeding definitely go together but we think this is an essential step before slice seeding as well.

Slice seeding vs aeration

You may think that as a slicer digs into the soil then you would not need to aerate as well, but you will see the best results if you do this beforehand.

This will create much deeper small holes in the soil, allowing it to break up even more as you work and aeration addresses the problem of getting even more seeds to be in contact with the ground with better nutrient absorption.

You may not need to use a dedicated dethatcher however, as a slicing machine will deal with the underlying thatch itself.

When Is the Best Time To Slit Seed Or Aerate the Soil?

Wherever you live, fall is widely regarded as the best time to overseed your lawn as at this time of year the air is cooler, but the soil is still warm. Even if you have cool season grass and a Northeast lawn.

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Nature will also provide more moisture, so you can benefit from less watering frequency and most lawns will more readily absorb rainfall than watering alone.

Weeds will also be naturally declining so the new grass seeds will have a better chance of getting established giving you a healthy lawn. 

Overseeder vs Slice Seeder — Which is the better option?

To answer this, you need to look at what you’re trying to achieve and why you are considering doing the overseeding in the first place.

Factor in the project’s budget, the time required, how much time you have, area to be worked on, the grass seed type you’re overseeding with etc., etc.

Here are some great questions and answers to get you started:

  • How big is your garden and/or the lawn you want to renovate?
  • What condition is the lawn in currently? Are there lots of weeds?
  • Do you want to plant large areas of new grass or just thicken up a few areas of the lawn?
  • Do you have lots of flower beds around the lawn area where you will sow seeds?
  • Do you grow multiple types of plants in the area you plan to perform seeding?

Asking these questions and going through the following answers will help you make the right choice :

If you need to create a lawn from scratch or want to plant lots of new grass to get a vigorous lawn, then a slice seeder offers the best option.

It allows for a high germination rate with great soil to seed contact and deeper plant roots. However, it does disturb the soil and could damage seeds.

Overseeding with a broadcast grass seed spreader is a great option for lawns that already have a good amount of healthy grass and just need thickening up. Spreading seeds a couple of times over the growing season will have an amazing effect and give you a lovely green lawn.

As we’ve mentioned above, the key to successful overseeding with less wastage of better seed is to properly prepare the area by aeration and also dethatching if necessary.

There’s no better way to improve soil texture, promote stronger grass roots, allow for better water absorption and drainage as well as help absorb nutrients you put down. 

You may want to take a look at the section on slice seeding vs aeration, as well as slicing also benefits from thorough aeration beforehand. 

It helps break up the soil and allows the blades of the slicer to really do their job.

Regular lawn maintenance will also help keep your lawn and soil healthy and avoid the need for serious lawn renovation using a slice seeder completely.

Resources:

http://www.ladybug.uconn.edu/FactSheets/spring-lawn-care-tips.php

https://extension.psu.edu/lawn-management-through-the-seasons