September 10, 2014
A dry summer can set your lawn back quite a bit. If your lawn did not have a deep root system, the dry soil may have allowed your lawn to develop dead spots. You may also look at your lawn and decide that it is time to finally do something about making your lawn into a really nice lawn. Fall is an ideal time to repair your lawn. To give your lawn time to get the seed growing and to give those new roots time to get fully established, you should get the seed planted by the end of September. Here’s what you need to do to get your lawn planted this fall.
If your lawn developed bare spots this past summer, the reason probably is that the quality of the soil is not good enough to allow the roots to survive an extended period of dry soil. If you want to have a lawn that grows well and survives adverse conditions, you need to have at least 6 inches of good loam. This depth of soil allows for a root system to develop that will survive dry conditions and for that root system to rebound once it begins to get a steady supply of water.
If you are patching spots in your lawn, you can mix in topsoil or bagged garden soil into the top 6 inches of your lawn. Don’t just lie a bit of soil on top of your existing soil. The soil needs to be mixed into the top 6 inches of existing soil. Once the soil is in place, mix in some seed starter fertilizer into the top 2 inches of soil. This type of fertilizer will help to get the newly forming roots well established in your lawn. Sprinkle an appropriate grass seed mixture onto the surface of the soil. Press the seed into the soil. It is not necessary to cover the seed with the soil.
If you think that rain or watering could wash away the seed, you can cover it with about 1/4 inch of soil. If the spots are big enough, you may wish to cover the seed with a mulch material. There are several kinds of sterilized chopped straw that can be placed on top of the seed. This material helps to hold the seed in place – and once the seed sprouts, you don’t have to remove it. Over time the product will decompose into the soil. We carry this chopped straw material in our store.
Once the seed is in place, it needs a steady supply of moisture to get the seed to sprout. It may take as long as 10 to 21 days for your seed to sprout. During this time, the soil should be moist – but not wet to the point that the seed will float on the surface of the soil. People always want to know if you water the seed once a day, twice a day or once a week. The answer is that it depends on the amount of sun the area gets, how hot it is and how windy it is during the day. If you hit a period of hot, sunny and windy weather, you may have to water 4 or 5 times per day. If it is a cloudy and cool day with no wind, you may water once in the morning. It just needs to have the surface soil kept moist at all times. Using the mulch straw can dramatically cut down on how often you need to water. The mulch helps to hold that moisture near the surface of the soil.
Once the seed starts to sprout and to put up new blades of grass, you can gradually cut back off on how often you need to water the lawn. Once those roots are deeply established, roughly a month after the seed sprouts, you can go back to a normal watering schedule.
If you are planting a new lawn or rehabbing an old lawn, the steps you take are the same as re-seeding spots in your lawn. It just happens that you are doing the process on a much larger scale.
If you want to get your lawn re-seeded this fall, make it a priority to do so as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the less time your seed has to get established before winter sets in and brings the process to a screaming halt.
Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.