Posts Tagged ‘fall lawn repair’

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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After a brutal summer, core aeration should be on your fall “to do list”.

2 commercial grade aerators at a job site

 

Core aeration or aeration is a physical process that utilizes a heavy machine called an aerator.  Similar to a garden rototiller, the aeration machine has a central shaft with 4 or 5 discs where the actual aeration tines are attached.  There are several types of aerators: some utilize solid tines while others are hollow, allowing the machine to extract plugs as it drives over your lawn.  These tines are designed to penetrate your lawn like using a cutter for cookies.  Most aeration cores will vary between ½” and 1” in diameter and will be left on the surface of your lawn.  The depth of a good core aeration job should vary between two and three inches.  Core length is dependent on soil moisture, the weight of the machine and its ability to push down versus roll over compacted soil, as well as the age or length of the tines.  Older tines become worn and must be replaced as they do not have the capacity to penetrate the soil with a blunt or worn tip.  If you are considering a rental aerator, be sure to check the tips of the tines – the more pointed they are, the better.  A blunt tine or one with a worn down tips will simply not pull a decent plug, although you may enjoy the exercise!

Aeration cores & holes

An aeration machine’s effectiveness is also dependent upon the weight of the unit and the speed at which is it used over the lawn.  The faster the aeration job, the less likely the machine’s weight can push down, forcing the tines into the soil.  In addition, most rentals are smaller, older units, enabling the average home owner to utilize the machine on a given weekend.  Although these rental units may do an adequate job in terms of maneuvering given their shorter width, a commercial grade aerator weighs hundreds of pounds more and is strapped with not only weights, but also with a drum full of water.  Basic physics dictates that using the right tool for the job, in this case a commercial aerator, will provide superior results.

 Aeration can be done any time of the year, but typically it is done in the spring or fall when soil moisture is greatest to ensure good plugs.  In addition, fall is the best time of year to over seed a lawn due to warm temperatures and more importantly, the absence of annual weeds like crabgrass that often interferes and reduces results.  Overseeding introduces superior grass varieties after an aeration job.  The seed germinates primarily in the aeration holes just like doing a hair transplant.  Overseeding is not meant to fill in damaged lawns with large patches or bare areas: this would be more in line with topdressing and seeding that could be done in conjunction with an aeration job.  Topdressing adds soil or compost in a thin layer allowing germination to take place in bare sections.  Overseeding adds new grass to an existing lawn area and small bare spots, and helps thicken up an existing lawn or thin areas.  Aeration and overseeding is not meant to establish a lawn or repair significant damage without the use of topdressing or lawn restoration.  Aeration is a great process and should be done annually to help maintain good soil health while minimizing compaction.

What are the benefits of Aeration?

-      Increased moisture penetration since the holes open up space for rain to reach the root system below.  The surface of the soil is hardened from high heat and summer drought, and a lack of rain makes the surface of the lawn much harder to loosen up due to the baking action of summer heat. 

-      Increased oxygen exchange (important for healthy roots) especially in compacted and dry soils.  Punching holes in the lawn will physically allow air to reach into the surrounding root systems, even as the hole begins to break down and fill back in with soil next spring.

-      Reduces soil compaction (especially soils high in clay) caused by those summer parties or high use.  Compacted soil does not promote healthy roots in grass or trees for that matter.

-      Increases penetration of fertilizers and other lawn products due to the holes being made.  The pellets or flakes simply roll into the plug and dissolve for faster results.

-      Increases rate of thatch decomposition due to micro-organisms being brought up to the surface in the plug itself.  There is no need to rake aeration plugs off a home lawn as they breakdown on their own in a short period of time.

-      Increases root development due to the vacant space created by the aerator tine.  The turf roots can expand outward and beyond in search of water, air, and nutrients in the soil.

If you don’t have aeration scheduled this year, give us a call and we can give you a proposal on aeration, as well as overseeding.  If topdressing is necessary, we can also give you recommendations on this procedure.  Aeration typically begins in mid to late August and runs right into October.  If you are interested or have questions on this important process, be sure to give us a call or e-mail anytime.  It will be back to school time before you know it!  Be sure to watch our aeration video posted on Flickr located on the home page of this blog.

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Fall lawn seeding in NH & VT

Fall is a superior time to establish an entirely new lawn or to simply fix a dead patch.  Both projects involve preparation of the site and subsequent seeding with an appropriate grass type best suited for the location.  The lawn pictured in this blog post was completed by our company less than a month ago and shows excellent progress within a short period of time.  This is due to warm soil, cooler days, excellent topsoil mixed with compost, high calcium lime for improved seed germination/pH adjustment, and lots of grass seed.  Like making a fine chili, the ingredients may seem simple- yet putting them all together in the proper sequence is paramount to success.  Whether you are undertaking a few square feet to 6,000 sqft as pictured in this lawn renovation- execution is as vital as the quality ingredients to achieve a new lawn area.

If you are going to do the lawn repair/installation yourself be sure to order quality loam mixed with compost if available.  Make sure you have enough time and a small tractor to move the loam if you are receiving a truck load or more.  Two experienced people can install a large lawn area in a weekend if the project has been thought out ahead of time.  Having the proper seed variety is not as easy as it may seem or the quantity.  Most grass varieties will call for 8 to 14lbs per 1,000sqft depending upon the type.  Rye and Tall Fescue have much larger seeds then Bluegrass or some shade varieties so more or less will be needed as a result.  The best lawns take thought and using a house brand or a generic “sun” or “shade” mix is often not the answer or solution for achieving a long term turf area.

Applying a slow release fertilizer with high calcium lime are additional tools to help the seed establish itself and put down a root system- all critical phases in the first 2 to 3 weeks.  Using hay adds weed seeds so stick to straw or nothing at all.  If a lawn is properly rolled to insure good seed to soil contact- you will get germination in the presence of adequate moisture.  Straw helps on slopes or areas that may not receive adequate water.  Seed nets or mats are very useful on steep slopes where you want to establish anything to help stop erosion.

The soil will stay warm into early November, especially around houses and southern or western exposures.  Since grass must undergo a physical change over winter- any grass established now will have a head start next year in terms of survival.  While larger projects may be put on hold until spring in terms of renovation- gambling with smaller areas are often worth the roll of the dice to get grass setup for the following year.  Location is key when it comes to making the call whether to embark on spot seeding or not in the fall.  If in doubt, seek the advice of a professional for options.  Fall seeding in NH & VT are great times to repair damage caused by summer heat and drought.

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