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Green Speak

Horticulture topics from gardens to lawns and then some.

Lawn Renovation

Posted by Christopher Enroth - Turf

This past summer of 2012 was one for the record books with our extreme drought and heat. Now, post-Labor Day, is the time of year when we must go into landscape rehab mode. Mother Nature has shown her friendly side with the lower temperatures and a handful of good rain events. With the soil moisture up and the temperatures down, it is time to think about overseeding your lawn. After the first good rain in many months my dormant turf greened up and so did the weeds. At the end of this summer I am not concerned with my lawn weeds, the annual weeds are gone for the most part and the perennial weeds are germinating and preparing for the winter. What I am concerned about is reestablishing my lawn which has thinned considerably over the summer. I know that at this time of year my cool-season turf can out-perform the weeds and get a leg up on next spring's annual weed germination.

A good process to use when overseeding is to first analyze your soil. If your soil has become compacted or is very heavy clay, it is best to aerate prior to seeding. Hollow tine aerators work the best.

Overseed after aerating. If there are any bare spots I typically rough up the soil with a hard-tooth rake to provide good seed-to-soil contact.

Finally, I spread a thin layer of compost across my lawn. You can do this by hand or use a broadcast spreader. Due to costs of compost and what I have on hand I usually apply a depth of less than an inch, but you could go up to an inch. After spreading the compost I will drag a leaf rake over the lawn to ensure the grass seed makes good soil contact and to work the compost down into the turf. Be forewarned, I have been told, though have never seen this, that spreading compost on a lawn on a hot sunny day can heat up that black gold and burn your existing turf.

And of course when overseeding do not forget to keep the seedbed moist, not saturated! A deep watering is not as essential at this point. As the seed germinates and becomes established you can decrease your watering frequency while increasing the watering time. Mow your turf after the new grass seedlings reach two- or three-inches. Cool season grass prefers a cutting height between two- to four-inches.

Go to the Extension website LawnTalk for more great information on renovating your lawn.



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