As the light of the day begins to dwindle, it’s about time for a week or two of indian summer to make us all throw up our hands a say, enough! By now the lawns that had a chance of survival have begun to green. Some established lawns may need to be re-seeded and this month is the best time to do it. Here is the step by step process we take to insure your new lawn looks green next year.
1. Start by killing any weeds with roundup a few days in advance. This step is not necessary if weeds are not a problem.
2. If there is sufficient topsoil, but the soil is hard, till the soil with a rototiller and rake it to loosen the top. This ensures that the seeds will have something to germinate in rather than wash away in the first rain. Also, remove any large rocks or clumps unearthed by the rototiller.
3. If there is insufficient topsoil, it would be ideal to add to it. Six inches are best for optimal root growth, but unless you can remove six-inch of existing soil, it is a bit unrealistic. I would try to add an inch or so if possible.
4. If you live in the Midwest, and have a sunny location use a seed mix that is made up of a Kentucky Bluegrass, Perennial Ryegrass and Fine Fescue blend. It is imperative to make sure the seed is not old or inferior or the lawn will be poor and full of weeds. For shady yards the preferred lawn should have creeping red fescue as part of the mix to grow in low light.
5. For a novice lawn applicator, use a drop spreader in two directions to make sure you haven’t missed any areas and have the seed spread evenly.
6. Add a turf starter granular fertilizer to the seed. The granular fertilizer should be re-applied in two to three weeks intervals for another one or two times depending on when the seeding was done.
7. Use erosion blanket to cover the new seeds and pin it down. This is imperative to protect the seed from washing away and any animals from making all your hard work a meal.
8. Watering the new seed is the single most important step in establishing the new lawn. Water every day with an overhead sprinkler. The soil should remain wet.
9. Flashing forward to next season. A new lawn may benefit from another application of fertilizer in the spring. In winters of snowfall, the snow may be too heavy for new lawns and could cause some dieback. In this case, overseeding may be necessary as well.
10. A new lawn is still vulnerable to drought for several seasons after establishment. Treat all one to two-year old lawns with care by watering as needed. Do not apply any pre-emergent weed killers in the first season after establishing the lawn, as the preventative measure may prevent the growth of the new lawn.
The right steps at the right time is the best bet for a healthy lawn. Planting in the wrong season can mean lots of weeds and little fruitful yield. A lawn that is planted in September can often grow thick in a few short weeks and may even need one to two mowings before a hard frost. Hard to believe?…try it!