Fall is the best time to renovate your lawn. The weeds have died down and the temperatures have dropped into a range where grass will grow confortably. My fall renovation plan includes soil improvement and then overseeding with Turf Type Tall Fescue (TTTF). Here are the steps I take for my lawn in the early fall, usually the first two weeks of September.http://my-new-favorite-grass-seed-turf-type-tall-fescue
- Core Aerate – this is the magic bullet for lawns and often overlooked by homeowners in this area. The clay soil in the yard becomes compacted over time through foot traffic and time. The hard soil makes it very difficult for grass roots to spread. Core aeration removes small plugs of the soil from the lawn to reduce this compaction and make room for new growth. It allows room for air and fertilizer to get down into the soil. Finally it makes a good seed bed for overseeding. The plugs that remain on your lawn will disintegrate naturally in a few weeks. I core aerate my lawn at least once a year, usually in the fall. You can do it yourself by renting a machine from Home Depot however the machines are very heavy and difficult to transport. I prefer hiring a professional to do the work. Contact me for a recommendation for the service in our area.
- Lime – The soil in this area becomes acidic over time and needs an adjustment in the Ph balance. After the the core aeration, spread Lime pellets with your broadcast spreader. It is a simple but effective improvement to the soil.
- Overseed with TTTF – The one area where you don’t want to skimp is the grass seed. There are many types and quality of grass seed. Many varieties you buy in the big box store and not the highest quality. Lawn Club turf type tall fescue (TTTF) is my favorite grass for it’s durability, appearance and value. Spread the seed with a broadcast spreader. The seed will get down into the holes created by the aeration and also contact the soil plugs now sitting on the lawn. If you have bare spots in the lawn, you will need to cover the seed with peat moss or mushroom mulch. I’ve used both topdressings successfully. The peat moss is easier to spread but you have to keep it wet or it will dry out. The mushroom mulch is heavier but probably a little cheaper and and maintains moisture better. You must cover the seed on the bare spots with some type of topdressing or you are wasting the seed or it just won’t grow. I’ve learned that the hard way.
- Starter fertilizer – Starter fert should be spread with the broadcast spreader after planting the seed.
- Water – The most common reason for the grass to not grow is lack of water. You have to keep the seed wet and not let it dry out. If you have an irrigation system, run in short 5 minute intervals 4-5 times a day. Otherwise water for 10-20 minutes in the morning and evenings, more if you are able. One option is to attach a timer to the hose bib in your house. This will release the water into your sprinklers at set times. With consistent watering you should see grass growing in 14-21 days.
There you have it – a simple plan for fall renovation that will make a big difference in your lawn. You will notice the difference the following spring when your new lawn pops with color and new growth.