Posted in: Fertilizers, Lawns, projects, seeds On: Thursday, August 30th, 2012
Early fall is the best time to renovate the lawn. Soil temperatures are still warm while the air temperatures are beginning to cool, creating the perfect environment for successful seed germination. There is also less competition from weed seeds (as opposed to planting in the spring). Plan to begin renovation in mid-August through mid-October to allow your grass to become established before leaves fall and frost arrives. Over-seeding in the fall will result in a lush lawn that will naturally crowd out weeds, and will continue to look great next spring. All you have to do is follow these basic steps.
Many broadleaf weed killers, although formulated to be safe for existing lawns, will prevent your new grass seed from germinating. Always check label warnings or consult with Primex staff before starting a project, as reseeding times can vary from 1 week to several months. You should be concentrating on perennial weeds this time of year, including dandelion, thistle, plantain, clover and ground ivy. In heavily infested areas you can use Roundup to kill all existing vegetation or spot treat as needed. You will be able to reseed one week after using Roundup or glyphosate products. Hand pulling, Burn Out or horticultural grade vinegar is an option for organic control methods.
A soil pH of 6.5 – 7.0 is required for optimum grass health. Primex will test the pH of your soil free of charge; simply bring in a DRY, ½ cup sample dug from 4” below the soil surface. If needed, you can add lime at this time to raise the pH. Penn State Extension soil test kits are also available for a complete soil analysis, including nutrient availability.
Mowing, Thatch Removal and Aerating
Mow the grass low, around 2 inches, to allow sunlight to reach the soil.
Thatch is the layer of brown fibrous material that accumulates on the soil surface. A thin layer of thatch is beneficial; however it should be removed if in excess of 1-2 inches. Thatching can be accomplished by hand with a stiff rake or dethatching rake in small areas or a dethatching machine can be used for large problem areas.
Core aeration removes plugs of soil from your lawn, allowing air and nutrients to reach deep roots. Aerating also helps to break up heavy clay or compacted soils, requiring 2-3 passes of an aerator machine.
After dethatching or aerating, you can add organic compost as a top-dressing to your lawn. Simply place piles around your yard and rake to spread 1/4″ deep or distribute using the largest opening on your spreader. Compost will add needed organic matter and beneficial microbes for healthy soil.
Seeding, Fertilizing and Mulching
Take your site conditions and dimensions into account before selecting seed. Is it sunny, shady, high traffic? Ask our staff to help you make the best selection for your yard. Apply the seed at the recommended rate using a spreader.
Fertilize using a specially formulated starter or a slow-release organic lawn fertilizer according to recommended rates.
Mulch the seed (especially when establishing a new lawn or filling in bare spots) using salt hay, straw, Penn Mulch or seed matting to protect from birds and to help keep the soil moist.
Watering and Care
Water lightly on a daily basis ensuring that the soil is kept evenly moist until the seed germinates. Areas that are in late afternoon sun will require special attention, young seedlings should not be allowed to completely dry out. After germination, water deeply and less frequently to encourage root growth. Once the grass becomes more established you may water deeply once weekly.
Some grass varieties like Kentucky Bluegrass can take 3 to 4 weeks to germinate. You can expect to have an established lawn in 6 to 12 weeks after seeding. Cut your new grass when it reaches 3” in height, making sure your blades are clean and sharp. Fertilize once more around Thanksgiving, the grass roots will continue to develop until the ground freezes.