Friday, August 8, 2008

Your lawn has never looked worse

Your lawn has never looked worse… and you can consider that a complement. What I mean is that your lawn may look a bit ragged about now, but that is normal. Most of the grass species we use for lawns, such as Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass and the fescues are “cool season” grasses. They thrive under cool moist conditions and go dormant or are very stressed under hot temperatures and drought stress. So your expectations should be low in mid August. That lawn has been struggling for months. OK, those of you with irrigation systems can expect more green but most of us aren't in that boat.

But as day length shortens, temperatures moderate and rains replenish soil moisture… lawns ought to perk up. September is a great time to re-seed patches of turf that just couldn't take the stresses of summer. Plan now for reseeding. If you have large areas that have petered out, consider hiring help or renting a slit-seeder to re-seed. Soil-seed contact is essential. If you simply toss seed onto the bare areas you are just feeding the birds. If you have very small areas to re-seed, scratch them up with a stiff rake before seeding. Firm the seed bed after seeding.

Whether you are re-seeding or not, September is an important month to fertilize. An application of 10 pounds of 10-6-4 fertilizer per 1000 square feet, or its equivalent from other nitrogen sources, is a very good way to encourage growth that will repair summer’s damages.

Other fall lawn care includes liming and broadleaf weed control. Stay tuned for more on that subject. For tips on renovating a really lousy lawn, check out this Penn State resource.

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