Stacey Mollus is a humor columnist who believes laughter is the best form of exercise. She is a gardening diva who hates worms, but loves to get her fingers in the dirt. Besides gardening, she loves her family, chocolate and clothes that are stretchy. You can find her on Facebook at “Queen of Chocolates.”

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Plant Your Spring Lawn Now
by Stacey Mollus    

Next May, wouldn’t you love to have the best looking-lawn in your neighborhood? If your answer is yes, you need to begin by overseeding now.

It is hard to believe that putting seed down now will make that big of a difference six months from now, but it does.

Let me explain why. When you plant seed for a bunch-type grass such as tall fescue, fine fescue, perennial and annual ryegrass, it germinates and becomes a plant called a “crown”. That crown puts down roots and slowly adds new leaves to that plant, eventually filling in the space around it.

Problem is, the leaves die off and the plant has to continually make new ones. Eventually, the crown itself wears out and dies. Overseeding each year ensures you will always have new crowns in place when the older ones die off, and the younger plants are just naturally healthier.

Fall provides the perfect conditions for the new seed. If you sow in September, you have approximately three months of optimal conditions before the freezing temperatures arrive, (or so we hope). Warm soil temperatures assist in germination, and the cool air temps cut down on the amount of moisture needed and protect the plants from stress caused by extreme heat.

After taking a little winter rest, those new plants wake up in the spring and have another three or four months of cool temperatures to add leaves and fill in your lawn before the warm season weeds wake up and challenge the grass for territory.


Tips for Success

Watering is critical to establish newly planted sod.

Overseeding is not an exact science, but here are some things you can do to make sure you get the best germination, possible:

·      Mow your lawn before putting down the seed. This will allow the seed the ability to get close to the soil.

·      Fancy equipment is not necessary, as seed can be applied by hand, if you have a small area.

·      If you have a lot of thatch, core aerating or a slit seeder is necessary for good soil contact. You can rent an aerator or slit seeder at your local rental company or even easier, contact a lawn care service and have them do the hard work!

·      A “new lawn” fertilizer or organic compost can be applied to give the new plants a little “oomph” to get them growing well before winter strikes. Fall is a great time to fertilize your existing lawn anyway, so this step can benefit both new and old plants.

·      Watering is crucial. Once the grass seeds have been spread, it should never be allowed to dry out until you get full germination. Watering new seed at least twice a day for at least two weeks is recommended. If you miss a day or two and the seed dries you may lose up to 30 percent germination.

·      When you purchase your seed, don’t just grab what is on sale. Read the label. Some seed packages actually have a large percentage of “weed seeds” in the package. No one wants weeds, especially intentionally planted ones. Go to a reputable garden center and ask an expert. They will make sure you plant the right seed for your lawn conditions.

And lastly, if you have a large area where your grass is sparse or even dead, don’t forget that sod is also an option. It is a great way to get an instant lawn. There are only two rules to sod planting. First, always green side up. (Garden center joke!) And second, keep it wet like you are growing rice, until it takes root.


Posted: 09/05/11   RSS | Print


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