Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

October 4, 2013

DIRT ON GARDENING: A great lawn starts with a great plan

A beautiful home starts with a great lawn.

Whether your grass is brand new or been around for half a century, it would be wise to assess its condition periodically, especially if you weren’t completely satisfied with its look this year.

Perfect lawns exist because something was done right. The proper seed for your location was used as well as the proper maintenance. This all sounds relatively easy to comprehend for most homeowners, except that varying factors exist for every lawn.

New lawns get their best start by preparing a good seed bed for seeds to germinate properly. This may mean bringing in additional black top soil for an adequate depth of two to three inches.

Quite often backfill doesn’t get evenly distributed and areas of yard are woefully thin of rich black soil. This may cause variations in germination, as well as the ability to water properly so as to keep all areas looking the same. Most good contractors are careful to save an adequate layer to distribute over the entire plot but inevitably there are areas that seem to have more gravel than black topsoil.

Determine the amount of sunlight and/or shade your new grass will receive and purchase seed accordingly. New homes, in most cases, will have little shade for at least the near future so a “sun” mix would be in order- circumstances when building in a wooded lot would obviously change this to a sun/shade mix or other variations determined by the amount of sun and/or shade in a particular area.

Full sun mixes contain variations of bluegrass/rye/and tall fescues because they will tolerate the heat and sun. For areas of sun and shade where grass will be shaded 50 percent of the time, consider a bluegrass/rye/ and fine fescue mix.

For areas receiving more than 50 percent shade throughout the day then a rye/fine fescue mix should be considered. These are suggestions and most packagers define their mixtures on their labels this way.

IF IT’S AN OLDER, established lawn that you’re trying to rejuvenate then maybe all that is needed is an additional over-seeding to supplement the tired lawn.

The perfect method in this case is to mow your lawn short (2 inches or so) catching any clippings while performing this task. Then “plug” your lawn with an aerator leaving all the remnants to break down naturally.

After plugging, over-seed the entire area with an aforementioned seed mix, fertilize with a slow-release lawn fertilizer and water thoroughly. It isn’t necessary to rake the seed into the soil as the aerator will make the perfect seed-bed for germination. On established lawns it’s not as necessary to water daily because the existing grass will shade new seedlings.

In a case of uncertainty, of whether to over-seed or not, and if your lawn was decent but not quite up to expectations, then my recommendation would be to just over-seed thin areas and apply fertilizer according to manufacturer’s recommendations. Then in the following year, step up your fertilizer program by including an additional application.

ALWAYS REMEMBER, when seeding, to forgo the use of a broadleaf control/fertilizer or your seed will be rendered useless. Use only a straight fertilizer.

A fertilizer program of four applications (May and June then September and October), plus a November winterizer application, should yield positive results, providing your lawn is watered on a regular basis (a minimum of 1 inch weekly) and mowing height is maintained (for bluegrass and tall fescues) at 3½ to 4 inches and mowed twice a week.

If mowed regularly and not more than an inch at a time removed then it’s not necessary to “catch” grass clippings. If clippings tend to “clump” simply use a leaf blower to allow them to settle into the turf. Your lawn will thank you for the additional nutrients and compost.

 

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