When I was in high school working for my brother-in-law’s lawn service in Ann Arbor, MI, he sent my crew to mow a yard on Bird Road. When we arrived we quickly mowed and trimmed the front yard and then continued to the back. The gate was nearly impossible to push open inward because the grass was nearly 3 feet tall. The grass had seeded and resembled a wheat field.The occupant renting the home maintained the front yard all season but never mowed the back. Since the homeowners were returning from their summer trip she thought it was a good idea to bale the back. Forty man hours later and a pyramid size pile of grass in the back corner probably is still decomposing to this day.
End of May and early June is about when homeowners ask me if they should let their yard go to seed to help fill it in and make it thicker. Unfortunately, the hybrid lawn grasses usually won’t germinate, so the answer is no, keep mowing regularly. In order for the grass seed to possibly work naturally, the grass has to grow as tall as the house on “Bird Road”, dry up and fall off. Going to seed consumes large amounts of energy and soil nutrients for no added benefit of germinating viable seeds.
Mulching the lawn when it goes to seed and continuing with your fertilizing program will return those nutrients used to produce the seed. Grass tends to fill in thin spots by spreading roots into those areas and popping up a new grass plant. This process slows down if the grass is going to seed. Adding a high quality grass seed from your local sod farm onto a thin layer of good topsoil or over seeding is your most effective way to care for bare spots than waiting for the lawn to go to seed.
Don’t let your lawn get away from you. Raise your mower deck and stick with a weekly mowing program and return those nutrients through mulching. Keep fertilizing every 6 - 8 weeks and keep an eye on the moisture content of the grass. Adjust watering times with the temperature changes of summer. And finally, enjoy the fruits of your labor and walk around barefoot on your lush lawn.