Archive for August, 2011

Your lawn, the importance of soil and grass seed

Grass seed and Soil

Your lawn is too sandy, it’s full of clay, it’s compacted, or perhaps the topsoil is thinner than the crust of your favorite pizza?  I’ve heard it all before.  I have good news friend!  You can grow a lawn in just about anything, the problem becomes when the weather gets real dry or real wet, then you have an issue.  Furthermore, the types of grass you have present is of equal or perhaps more value than the medium it is rooted in today.  Sure there are ideal scenarios, but who gets a generous contractor that dumps loads of loam, rich in color and organic matter at your new house?  I won’t even answer that one.  Lawns fall into an assortment of sorrow from the new house with its fresh driveway and stony, gravel like appearance to the old meadow now turned into a housing development where you might actually retain some loam!

How can we improve that sandy beach of a lawn and get some organic matter where it counts?  There are many ways.  First, recycle your clippings whenever possible back onto the lawn.  Topdressing in the fall or spring can add a nice layer of organic matter, plus you can seed over it later.  Topdressing is a great way to speed up the organic matter content in your soil.  Soil amendments like sea kelp and compost tea also help promote beneficial bacteria and other microbes, enhancing the material surrounding the grass roots.  Core aeration reduces compaction and helps with those soils high in clay among having many other benefits.

Your existing lawn does not mean you cannot add more or better suited grasses by overseeding and aerating.  Adding superior grasses can improve your existing lawn each season, changing the composition over time to better tolerate drought, shade, or improve color.  The right grass in the right location can mean a world of difference when high heat arrives or your soil is below average.  Turf grasses vary in where they prefer to grow or tolerate.  I often see shaded turf in full sun only to brown out early in the season due to excessive heat, never mind the water holding capacity of the soil underneath.  Blends of grass seed are numerous, and the right combination for the site is of utmost importance.  Some turf grasses have a great color but may be susceptible to disease, while others tolerate shade or heat.  Having the right blend of grass seed present in your home lawn would be akin to the right oil viscosity in your engine.

Before you throw up your hands and get a quote from a paving company to destroy your lawn, pause on the options and see what can be done this year.  I have found most lawns can be salvaged and improved upon without starting from fresh, bare loam.  Grass may seem simple enough, but having the right harmony with the soil to grass varieties is another story altogether.

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Fall is the best time to improve your lawn in NH & VT

Fall is the best time to repair or seed a lawn in NH and VT

Fall is the best time to repair your lawn after experiencing a brutal hot summer.  Although your lawn may contain summer annual weeds like crabgrass, oxalis, spurge; take heart that their time will soon be coming to an end in September.  September beckons turf renovation in order to help restore some order by repairing any damage incurred since spring.  Common lawn damage results from drought, weed or insect infestation, or even disease and must be repaired in the fall for best results.

Regardless of what went wrong, having a game plan now is critical toward taking advantage of warm autumn soil, cool nights, and typical rain.  This normal weather combination makes fall an ideal time to repair and improve lawns in NH and VT.  So what can be done?  What should you consider in terms of products or services this fall to help your home lawn?

Aeration and overseeding should be at the top of your list because both will help your lawn in numerous ways.  Review my prior blog posts for the benefits of aeration and overseeding.  So long as soil moisture is good, aeration can begin in mid to late August depending upon your location.  Topdressing bare spots or a damaged area of lawn is another great process toward thickening up your lawn once seeded.  Seeding and renovating your lawn by aerating is just the first step toward helping repair and improve it.

Applying a high calcium lime, a well blended natural fertilizer, and even kelp or compost tea will enhance seeding results and benefit the organisms in the soil itself.  Sandy soils, new lawns, and those with thin topsoil depths are at a disadvantage in terms of supporting a high quality lawn without substantial work.  A great start to either improving or repairing a treated lawn includes some if not all of the aforementioned lawn treatments in both NH & VT.

September and October are huge months and can turn an otherwise weak, thin, or damaged lawn around; preparing it for the spring of 2012.  The healthier you get your lawn during this time frame, the better your grass is prepared for the winter and spring treatments next year.  Remember, most crabgrass control products do not allow seeding and use of that product simultaneously next spring.  Although spring lawn seeding and repair can be fruitful, the weather often plays a huge roll regarding rainfall and heat.  You will also face annual weeds as they germinate in new soil, presenting serious competition to your young lawn.  These two factors make fall the opportune time to make repairs over spring time when it comes to achieving maximum results.

Plan ahead now and don’t miss this important time frame to help repair your lawn for not only this winter, but more importantly the spring of 2012!

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