Fall Lawn Care 101



Starting a Lawn by Seed
Preparation and Installation

  • Measure off the area and figure the square footage (length x width).

OPTIONAL STEP: Kill weeds and grass with a nonselective herbicide (Kleen-Up); however seeding will have to be delayed approximately 7 to 10 days after application of such products. Be sure you are not using a total vegetative killer.

  • Rototill the area and remove all debris – stone, roots, and weeds – which could possibly interfere with the development of the grass seed. Also get a pH test of the soil.
  • Rough grade – rake and remove any debris while producing a reasonably level area (no low spots) on which to lay the seed.
  • Incorporate into the soil all amendments needed to insure the germination of the grass seed.
    • Organic Matter – Compost, manure, and/or peat moss have high organic content which will help the soil structure, increase the water holding capacity and increase the microbial activity. We recommend Bumper Crop.
    • Lime – MAG-I-CAL (based on pH results)
    • Love your Soil by Jonathan Green – great for heavy, compacted soils.
    • Starter Fertilizer – High in phosphorous, essential for root development. (Winter Survival can also be used.)
  • Fine Grade – At this time the grade needs to be level. There should be no question about which direction the water will drain.
  • Roll the area with a lawn roller approximately ¾ full of water.
  • Water the ground lightly. If puddles occurs remove soil from high areas to fill in low spots.
  • Spread your grass seed mixture evenly throughout the area. Consult one of our experts concerning which blend would be best for your area.
  • Roll the area lightly (empty tank) after spreading seed to help bed it into the soil.
  • Moisten the entire area and apply EZ Straw, Lucerne Straw or Green Mulch over the area to help hold moisture in. This will increase the germination percentage of the seed.
  • Note – If your lawn has had Insect problems, like grubs, you apply an insecticide the same day you seed. Refer to one of our lawn experts for more information about products available.

Turf Renovation

  • Core Aeration or Thatching are vital components to your overall turf management program; it will improve water and nutrient infiltration, improve soil oxygen levels, and reduce thatch levels and fall is the best time to do core aerating or thatching. Outside of mechanical aeration you can do more to improve your overall turf quality with two very important steps.
    • Top-Dressing which will greatly improve soil chemistry and structure and will improve fertilizer performance. Top-dressing products are perfect when your lawn has compaction issues, low fertility and/or moss growing. Top-dressing materials should be raked in after application for best results.
      • Top-Dressing products include Jonathan Green Love your Lawn, porous ceramic, poultry manure or Gypsum or Lebanon ROOTS.
      • In situations where larger areas need to be over-seeded take advantage of incorporating organic matter into the soil. We recommend Bumper Crop Soil Builder or Just Natural Garden Soil.  You can also use compost, manure, and/or peat moss.
  • Over seeding to upgrade turf grass varieties in your lawn. Most lawns have too much Perennial Ryegrass and are susceptible to poor fertility, disease pressure and stress. You can change these conditions by over seeding with newer improved varieties of Kentucky Bluegrasses, Fine leaf Fescues, NEW generation Perennial Ryegrass and Dwarf Type Tall Fescues (Black Beauty). Consult one of our experts concerning which blend would be best for your area.

Spread the seed after aeration or thatching is done and add any top dressing materials have been applied and raked in – this method will provide a seedbed for your plants while allowing general use and maintenance to continue uninterrupted.

Basic Maintenance

  • Watering is the most important requirement needed to establish your lawn.
  • After approximately 10-14 days you can remove the straw or when you cut the lawn for the first time it will be removed through that process.
  • Mowing of your new lawn should begin when the grass reaches 2 ½ -3”. You should mow your lawn throughout the growing season, removing the top third each time.
  • To ensure a dense, problem free lawn use fertilizer and insect controls as necessary and consult with one of our turf experts.

Tips & Common Problems

Mushrooms in lawns often develop from thatch, buried wood, dead roots, and stumps.  They have many different sizes, colors, shapes, and habits of growth and develop fruiting structures or mushrooms in lawns often after periods of rainy weather.  The fungi that produce these mushrooms are beneficial because they decompose dead plant material on and in the soil, making nutrients available to growing plants.  These mushrooms usually are harmless to grasses, but some people consider them unsightly or want to get rid of them because young children play in the area.  Neither spray applications nor drenches of fungicides are effective in controlling these mushrooms.  A simple way to remove mushrooms is to mow the lawn and collect the clippings or by raking them up.  In some cases, elimination of excess thatch and aerating the soil to improve water penetration also helps reduce their numbers.  If the weather becomes drier, the mushrooms gradually disappear without interventions.

Moss in lawns is common when the soil is compact or has poor drainage.  Improving aeration will create an environment that moss does not like.  Apply Bonide MossMax to kill the moss and then change the soil texture by adding sand, organic soil amendments, porous ceramic, gypsum and/or JG Love your Soil over the next year or two and that will prevent moss from redeveloping.

Voles and Moles create many problems in lawns.  Molemax is one of the best products to move the critters somewhere else and prevent future damage.

Fertilizing Your Lawn throughout the year

After a long winter your soil needs consistent warm temperatures in order for the roots of your grass plants to be stimulated to grow.  Once the lawn has started to green up get going with a lawn care program that is specifically tailored for your lawn.  Think of the Holidays as a guide.

  1. Easter – Crabgrass Preventer with Fertilizer
  2. Memorial Day – Lawn Fertilizer with Weed Killer
  3. 4th of July Summer fertilization with Iron
  4. Labor Day Fall fertilizer higher in Potassium to encourage strength and vigor heading into the winter.

Go Organic? – FEED YOUR SOIL!

Organic fertilizers are another option for your fertilization program. Organic fertilizers tend to break down slowly and are reliant on microbial activity and soil temperatures. By putting organic fertilizer down, microbes have a chance to work on those nutrients, breaking them down so that they are available just in time for spring. So if you’re going organic, use Espoma or Milorganite for regular feedings.  For crabgrass prevention use Bonide Maize or Jonathan Green Organic Weed Preventer both contain Corn Gluten.

By: Jim Connolly, MCH, MCLP

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