Posts Tagged ‘seeding’

October lawn tips

Nothing says autumn quite like a dark green lawn covered in vibrant orange and yellow leaves. Cool fall nights and the still warm soil transform your normally fast growing lawn into one that is focused on storing energy in its root system. This special phenomenon is a unique time of year with many advantages when it comes to seeding, fertilizing, aerating, liming and winterizing your lawn.

 

October remains a top month for lawn care in NH & VT

October remains a top month for lawn care in NH & VT

 

 

Whether you have a home lawn or one at your business, October is no trick when it comes to setting up your lawn for better survival over the winter. And the treat for any lawn treatment in October means a greener, healthier lawn next spring, if done correctly. October lawn care treatments done before soil temperatures drop to a level where your lawn is going into hibernation are of particular benefit. Seeding and fertilizations of any kind are more sensitive to warmer soils for maximum results in the fall.

 

Seeding
Seeding bare patches in your lawn or over seeding new grass into a thin or existing lawn are great ways to really speed up the thickening process now to set the stage for next year. Any grass you gain now by seeding can be treated for crabgrass next spring, allowing for a better lawn in 2015. If you wait until spring to seed, the cold soil prevents early seeding well into May, thus competing with annual weeds and crabgrass; a recipe for disaster.

 

Fertilizing
Natural and organic fertilizers also work best in warmer soils when micro-organisms are growing and can help breakdown the material into a useable form for your turf grass. By contrast, synthetic fertilizers are already in a more useable form and can be used later into the season as soils cool down. The cautionary note of using fertilizers too late in the season if the ground is frozen or very cold means not really achieving any benefit to the lawn and the possibility of runoff into streams, rivers, and other undesirable areas.

 

Aeration and Lime
Core aeration on the other hand can be done right up until the ground freezes or is at the very least very cold in November or early December, depending upon your actual location in New England. Of course, if you plan to over seed after aerating, earlier is better for germination and subsequent growth before snow falls. Lime can also be applied well into late fall, with the full benefits achieved in spring relating to pH or general soil conditioning.

 

Winterizing
One last tip, remove piles of leaves on your lawn, especially on thin, shaded, or new grass areas, as they will act as mulch and damage your lawn. As the temperature drops and November approaches, you can actually drop your mowing height down to 2”. Your final cut in November should be 1.5” to help minimize winter damage and snow mold.

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A brief commentary on spring lawn seeding

 

Spring lawn seeding can be done in a single spot or an area providing a quick way to repair plow damage and dead spots from the winter, or damage incurred in the drought of 2012.  If done correctly, spring seeding can help restore otherwise lost grass area adding to summer enjoyment.

Spring lawn seeding can help repair plow damage

Spring seeding can normally be done once the ground warms until early-to-mid June if properly done and with appropriate weed suppression.  Spring seeding takes a second seat to fall seeding due to reduced crabgrass and weed pressure in the fall.  Fall seeding affords warm soils and fast germination without crabgrass or annual weed choking out new growth.  However, with special treatments, spring seeding can be successful if done carefully and with the proper grass blends.

Regardless of how you fix your lawn, the grass types installed are critical toward long term success.  All grass blends are not created equal and you get what you pay for in terms of age, weed content, and site specific blends, be it drought-shade, sun, play or other locations.  Cheap grass seed and a lack of foresight is a common error in repairing or installing a lawn.  What appeared to be success can quickly turns to brown grass and defeat.

Full lawn installations are best saved for early spring or late summer into fall due to generally favorable weather.  Small repairs can be done anytime during the year but keep in mind, you will have weeds and crabgrass of varying population levels.  These weeds can be treated with a variety of specialty sprays but these are not inexpensive and must be done properly with qualified, licensed turf companies like Chippers.

Watering is the second most important factor in achieving good germination and helping establish a new lawn.  Without water, your seed will stay dormant and cannot germinate.  If you water in the beginning and then stop, the shallow rooted seedlings may perish within days without an adequate supply from rain or irrigation.  Try and water in the morning and late afternoon in the absence of rainfall to keep the seed alive and improve both germination and growth performance.

The overall success of your seeding can be summed up by two main factors; watering and seed type/quality.         

 

 

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A look back at the 2012 lawn care season.

There is little disputing the 2012 growing season was a record breaker in more than one area.  Extreme heat and corresponding drought caused widespread damage to even well cared for lawns.  The effect of these weather phenomena then led to massive explosions of pests like grubs and chinch bugs.  Even with November fast approaching, the pest issues will spill over into the spring of 2013, and if left untreated, will continue to cause turf damage.  There is little that can be done for physical lawn repairs at this point in the growing season like bringing in new loam or trying to establish a lawn through seeding.  However, beneficial turf treatments applied now like potassium, lime, compost tea, sea kelp, and slow release fertilizer can help both a damaged and healthy lawn.  Lawn repairs ranging from small to full renovations should be explored now or at least during the winter months as landscapers and lawn care companies will be overwhelmed this spring by sheer volume of repairs necessary never mind pest treatments.  Timing could not be more critical in terms of seeding and treating for damaging turf and ornamental pests than the spring of 2013.  Even if the weather pattern returns to a more “normal” or stable pattern, the repercussions of this season’s heat and drought will continue into 2013.  Although brown grass in October can be a result of past drought and exposure to dry weather, it can also spell bug troubles in the surrounding lawn as grubs vigorously eat fast growing root systems.

Don't wait until the spring to make your lawn plans

I am seeing grubs in record setting numbers and on lawns which have never had a past issue.  While a curative treatment is only a short term fix, a preventative treatment in 2013 may well be in order for more lawns than previously expected.  I do not normally endorse the use of materials to preventatively protect against grubs, which in a normal year are rarely a huge issue unless past history indicates a problem.  However, I will be firmly endorsing both curative and preventative grub control on a case-by-case basis for 2013 because of the high risk factors recently experienced in New England.  Furthermore, another mild winter would further enhance tick populations in 2013 in addition to hundreds of other outdoor pests.  Make a note on your calendar to explore the potential health issues this winter and make plans, if deemed appropriate after speaking to professionals in the industry, such as Chippers.

On the bright side, the recent rain and cooler weather in combination with fall lawn treatments are helping damaged and weak lawns recover to the maximum degree possible before winter.  Don’t dismiss potassium, compost tea, and aeration after the harsh growing season we experienced this past year.  All of these treatments can be done well into November in most of New England so long as the ground does not freeze.

White grubs are eating your lawn without you knowing it!

In closing, don’t forget the millions of crabgrass seeds which were deposited in record numbers along driveways, patios, and walkways because of drought or insect damaged lawns.  Although a thick, healthy lawn is your best defense against crabgrass, some areas will not be up to the task without additional help of a preventative crabgrass barrier in the spring of 2013.  Timing will be key and a lot of good can be done in an eight week period next spring, so don’t file your lawn contract when it arrives this winter, review it carefully and setup a proactive plan to both protect and perhaps restore your home lawn for the investment it truly is!

 

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