Posts Tagged ‘topdressing’

Topdress and Aerate Your Lawn This Spring

Spring is a great time to fix your lawn before the summer heat moves in.

Spring is an ideal time to topdress and aerate your lawn; two steps that can really improve your lawn. Topdressing is a process where you add a thin layer of compost or soil on the lawn surface to add organic material.  This process is ideal for seeding as it makes a nice surface for grass to germinate.  Instead of adding yards or truck loads of soil and starting from scratch, some lawns can be salvaged with just ¼ to ½ inch of topdressing.  This process won’t bury existing healthy grass but fill in around it like water around an island, creating a great seeding surface.  Another benefit of topdressing allows you to seed over any weed or crabgrass barrier which may have been recently applied since doing so into the soil would be futile; it just won’t work because the chemicals prevent seed germination.

Spring aeration and overseeding is an excellent process which can help thicken up a lawn, with or without utilizing topdressing.  Aerate when soil moisture is good to enhance seed germination in the holes created by the machine.  (a line about overseeding?)

Everyone has some degree of winter damage or bare spots from plowing or salt use over the winter.  May and early June are ideal times to repair these often neglected areas of your lawn.  Addressing these weak links will make the entire lawn look better during the summer.  Left unchecked, bare spots will yield crabgrass and broadleaf weeds no matter how many times you spray.  The solution lies with replacing open soil spaces with healthy turf grass.  Perennial rye is a great grass to use in the spring because it germinates fast and is tough.  Crabgrass is a fierce competitor so the sooner you get “good” grass to germinate; the better off your lawn is as summer approaches.  No amount of spraying will suppress the inevitable weed infestation as bare soil heats up and fills in with fat crabgrass plants.

Take advantage of May and June’s cooler, wetter weather and get your lawn ready for summer before you leave for the beach this year!

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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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Brown lawn? Look to aerate this fall.

Core aeration is a mechanical process that extracts cores of soil, thatch and grass from the surface of the lawn.  This increases nutrient availability, water penetration, soil air exchange, and reduces compaction.  All of these benefits lead to a healthier lawn.

Aeration can be done any time of the year, but typically it is done in the spring and or fall when soil moisture is greatest to insure good plugs.  In addition, any lawn can be over seeded after aeration in order to add hybrid grasses to help thicken up an existing lawn or thin areas.  Aeration is a great process and should be done annually to help maintain good soil health while minimizing compaction.

Core aeration should not be confused with dethatching or power rakes, a different machine which tears and rips turf- often causing more damage than good.  Aeration is a professional means to manage a turf area that is often under care such as fertilizer and lime treatments.

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.  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.

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