What can you do for your lawn after this summer?
This year’s weather has been particularly hard on yards and gardens. Beyond the drought and heat, lawns have suffered from additional stresses that may cause a slow recovery this fall. By mid-August, some area lawns were beginning to green and show signs of recovery. Early signs of recovery provide a good time to observe the extent of damage and how much work is needed to get the lawn back into shape.
Areas that were brown but have begun to green again are recovering from summer dormancy. Sections that remain brown may have been damaged by drought, insects, disease or other issues. Regardless of the reason, it is time to take advantage of the cooler, moist weather and allow newly seeded areas to establish prior to fall leaf drop.
Before repairing, determine if there are any diseases or insects that continue to cause damage. An insecticide application may be necessary, but it must be determined if there are any surface insects, such as chinch bugs, or subsurface insects, such as grubs. Irrigated lawns are more likely to have grubs. Once pest issues are identified and remedied, follow these steps to get the lawn looking its best. Remove dead grass by thoroughly raking or de-thatching
- Remove or kill weeds
- Aerate in at least one direction
- Correct grade issues by adding soil or tilling high areas to fill low ones
- Top dress bare areas with top soil
- Apply starter fertilizer with a N-P-K (nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium) ratio of 1:2:1 at a rate of one pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet
- Incorporate starter fertilizer into the loose soil if possible
- Apply grass seed mixture at a rate of six to eight pounds per 1,000 square feet and incorporate into the loose soil by gently raking
- Lightly cover the seed with mulch—either a paper pellet-type product, peat moss, or compost
After all the effort to repair a lawn, it is important to follow up with diligent aftercare to ensure the seed germinates and becomes established. Water daily using an oscillating sprinkler, preferably in the morning. Ensure sufficient coverage around the edges and adjust the location of the sprinkler as necessary. It is important to water long enough to moisten the seed and top layer of soil but not make puddles, as this is an indication of soil saturation.
Even when the forecast calls for rain, still plan on watering. Often showers will pass by or drop only a small amount of water, and trees may prevent moisture from reaching all areas of the lawn. Water each area for 10 to 15 minutes. As the lawn establishes, transition watering and care for the newly seeded areas.
For complimentary watering and care instructions, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with “new seed lawn care” in the subject line.
Douglas Freer is a Cleveland Heights native and the owner of Lawn Lad Inc., which provides residential landscape services in the Heights. Find him at 216-371-1935 or www.lawnlad.com.