Summer is beginning to fade as August begins and soon school buses will be back on the roads as Labor Day approaches. Your heat-ravaged lawn would do well to get in on the end-of-summer shopping extravaganza. Although notebooks and new clothes are not appropriate, core aeration will break up the compacted soil caused by drought and is definitely what the teacher ordered. And warm soils and cool nights beckon new seeding to repair damaged sections of your lawn. This over seeding is best done after aeration so the seed can germinate in the core holes. For those areas too large for a minor fix up, topdressing with compost is just the ticket to supply organic matter and a superior seed bed after core aeration.
Fall is the best time of the year to work on your lawn, especially when it comes to seeding because of increased rainfall, warm soil, and cool nights. There is less competition in your lawn as summer annuals like crabgrass and spurge are on their deathbeds. And every lawn can benefit from core aeration regardless of condition or age. Simply put, fall is summer in reverse as the weather begins to feel like spring except with a splash of vivid foliage color to make a great outdoor backdrop for family activities.
Aeration can normally begin in August as soon as there is sufficient soil moisture to allow the hollow tines of the machine to break through the hard surface. Dry soil often does not allow good plugs to be pulled as the soil falls apart or it is difficult to penetrate from compaction caused by dry summer weather.
Over seeding allows better grasses to be introduced into your lawn so it can become more resistant to disease, insects, and drought. You may have grasses which prefer partial shade living in full sun. Fall is a great time to add a better grass to this kind of area. Perhaps you have an older bluegrass that is not tolerant to disease; now is the time to seed in superior hybrid turf grasses that are resistant to disease yet blend in with your bluegrass lawn. Don’t skimp on seed quality, like fine wine, you get what you pay for and using subpar seed to save money will detract from the overall results.
The grass seed in the aeration holes needs no special care. In fact, you should continue your normal mowing routine. Topdressing will aid in the thickening of the lawn because the seed is delivered into the holes and on the lawn surface. Any supplemental moisture for both over seeding and topdressing will promote maximum grass seed germination although it is not required for good results under normal autumn weather. Too much moisture is often called “killing your lawn with kindness” and can be worse than not watering at all.
Core aeration and over seeding are an excellent pair of lawn renovation activities which do so much good, especially after a dry year when many lawns had some drought or disease damage.
When you hear those back to school advertisements, don’t forget to help your lawn looks its best before winter arrives. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by.