After a long, hot, dry summer most lawns will need a little extra care and attention. It is quite natural for west coast lawns to brown out during the heat of the summer. But with a little extra care and attention you can build a healthier soil, improve the existing grass, overseed and enjoy a stronger healthier lawn next spring and summer.
Fall is actually a great time to renovate lawns and plant new ones. The warm earth, the cooler temperatures and more regular rainfall provide good conditions for sowing seed and growing grass.
The following procedures can be performed almost anytime between September until the end of October, but first, let the fall rains re-moisten the soil. This will start to green up existing grass and identify where the trouble spots are likely to be. Fertilize with a Fall or an Organic fertilizer. When examining fertilizer products, you will typically see 3 numbers in large print. These indicate the percentage of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium found in the product. You want to choose the one that has a low first number and a higher second and third numbers. This combination limits the amount of green growth, builds a stronger healthier root system and prepares the grass for the stresses and extremes of Winter.
Wait 2-3 weeks after fertilizing and then apply a lime product like Dolopril. Lime will help replace calcium and magnesium that gets leached out by rain. It also helps reduce the growth of moss by making the soil less acidic. A new product on the market that is locally made is an Organic Lime made from eggshells. It’s an excellent alternative if your lawn is heavily used by kids and pets. It is beneficial to lime every year, preferably in the Spring or now in the Fall.
Dealing With Weeds
If your lawn is full of weeds, dig them out by hand, or kill them with a spray. While most people are used to such popular chemical products like Roundup or Killex, organic vinegar-based products like Eco-Clear are also available. This is a great alternative especially in municipalities where chemical herbicides are banned. When using any of these products spray sparingly and directly onto the weed, that way you aren’t applying the product over the whole lawn.
Dethatch and Aerate
Overtime, lawns form a thick mat or thatch between the actively growing grass and the soils surface. It is comprised of tightly woven grass stems, roots, clippings and debris. Thatch is especially common in lawns where the grass has grown tall, where mulch is frequently left and on lawns that have never been aerated. Thatch can prevent air and moisture from penetrating down to the roots. Solve this problem by aerating.
To aerate, use one of two methods. Either use a leaf rake and manually remove the layer of thatch with good old-fashioned muscle power. Or, rent a power aerator. These machines pull out little plugs from the grass and let air and water into the soil. Don’t worry about the plugs as they will break down over time.
Apply Grass Seed
Overseed after aerating or raking. If you used an aerator fill the holes with soil before seeding. Use a grass mix specifically designed for overseeding. Apply the seed to the entire lawn as grass seeds are not uniform. If you only sprinkle the overseed onto specific areas, you may see visual differences between the types of grasses. Apply the seed at a heavier rate if your lawn is really thin. More can be purchased next Spring to fill in areas. For best results use a spreader and do two passes, north to south on the first pass and then east to west for the second. Lightly rake in the grass seed to ensure good contact with the soils surface.
Add Top Dress Soil
Once seeding is complete, top dress with a thin layer of soil like our lawn and garden mix or Art’s bagged Super Soil for smaller areas.
Repeat these steps in the Spring for even better results. By following these simple procedures, you too will enjoy a strong healthy green lawn that will be the envy of all your neighbors next Spring and Summer.