It’s time to think about Lawn Quality
Many of us think of spring as the prime time for rejuvenating our yards and landscapes, but did you know that FALL is really the best time to work on improving your lawn quality. Why…you ask?? In this part of the country, we grow cool weather grasses. These varieties of grass typically take 3 weeks to germinate from seed. When planting grass seed in the fall (Late August, beginning of September), they will begin to germinate and actively grow during the end of September, all of October, November and even some in December…..that’s approximately 12 weeks of growth. The new grass plants go dormant for the winter and then begin to grow the middle of March, April, May and June (now 22 +/- week old plants) before getting stressed out with the Summer heat and humidity.
Compared to seeding in the Spring and putting new grass plants (10 +/- weeks old) through the summer stresses, the older fall grass plants will stand a better chance of surviving. The moral of the story? Always, always, seed in the FALL !!!
So what should you do this fall?
Start by Aerating your lawn. Aeration is the process of producing holes in your lawn (that look like plugs). Aerating your lawn will allow oxygen and water to get down to the root zones of your grass plants. This is a great preventative maintenance service for your lawn. And yes….leave the plugs alone. They will eventually break down and go away.
Next, apply lime to your lawn. I like pellatized lime…..it takes a little longer to break down but it’s basically un-noticeable when applied to your turf. Lime is an essential mineral for lawns. Lime will sweeten up the pH of your lawn, thus allowing the grass plants to more efficiently process the nutrients of the lawn application (fertilizers) that are made each year.
Seed into your existing lawn…..A slit-slicing machine will drop a pre-calibrated amount of seed in front of vertical slicing blades (which plant the seed in the soil). The benefit of slit/slicing your lawn with grass seed is that it will introduce new varieites of grass into your lawn and in time will help thicken up your lawn. And once you are done introducing new grass seed into your lawn…be sure to water. In fact, if it’s warm, you may have to water 2-3 times per day. It is imperative to keep the seed bed (the soil) moist during seed germination.
If you have a bare spot in your lawn….scratch the spot out, add a light layer (1/8″-1/4″ of compost) and plant some grass seed in the spot. Make sure the seed is in contact with the compost…..seed needs to make contact with soil to germinate. Cover lightly with some straw and water away !!!
Fertilize your lawn. Did you know that you should be applying 4 pounds of nitrogen (fertilizer) per 1,000 sq.ft of grass per growing season to keep your lawn healthy and green. Many of us take supplements to keep our bodies strong….why deprive your lawn? The spring (May), Fall (September) and late fall (October/November) are the BEST times to fertilize. So this September apply a nice application of slow release fertilizer to your lawn.
Work on weed removal during September and October….that right, get rid of the weeds !!!! The “nasty” looking crab grass plants can manually be removed. And some of the more tender broadleaf weeds can be removed with the use of “selective herbicides”. A selective herbicide application can help remove the weed from your lawn while not effecting the surrounding grass. So go ahead and remove those weeds.
In summary…..after the residual effects of a six week stretch of high temperatures, high humidity and intermittent rainfalls we are seeing declines in lawn quality, outbreaks of weeds, and yes a lot of fungus. It’s been a tough summer on lawns. There is a lot of wet, hot soil out in our yards creating havoc on your lawn. Start making your plan NOW for a thorough lawn rejuvenation.
If you have any questions about any of the above information, please don’t hesitate to give me a call at 914-377-9039.