Have you been dreaming of a lush green weed free lawn? Late summer is the best time of year to improve your lawn and get it in top shape. The nights are cool, but the sunny days keep the soil warm, usually allowing seed to germinate in one week. The thunder storm season will have past and the rains are gentler, causing less erosion problems. There will be less competition from weeds and crabgrass. And most importantly the young turf plants will have the Fall and Spring growing seasons in which to mature and develop a strong root system, before tackling the heat of next summer.
Grass plants evolved several strategies for dealing with the heat and drought stress of our hot summer months. When Nature does not supply enough rainfall for individual plants to survive, the seeds produced in the spring are ready to germinate when the temperature cools and gentle rains return. Turf goes dormant during hot dry spells, keeping the available water in the crown and root system, while the leaves turn brown. When rainfall and cooler temperatures return the plants begin to grow again and also put out rhizomes and tillers, which will become new grass plants next spring. The next few months it is important to manage your lawn to get the most benefit out of the strategies that nature hs developed to ensure the survival of turf grass plants.
The easiest way to nurture your lawn this Fall is to do a Soil Test to determine pH or lime requirements. Since pH effects the availability of nutrients in the soil it is important to maintain the pH in the 6.0 to 7.0 range just below neutral. The organic matter content of the soil should be around 10% and getting a stronger root system is the best way to increase organic material in the soil. While mechanical methods to de-thatch and aerate with machines are popular options, Sunshine Landscaping has been using Biostimulants and Liquid AERIFY! to accomplish these goals. The basic premise is that by adding Humic Acid to the soil a snowball effect occurs were the soil improves, the microbiology of the soil improves and decomposes the dead roots, which aerates the living soil, allowing roots to grow better and eventually adding more organic matter to the soil.
SEEDING and ENHANCEMENT OPTIONS:
First, consider soil Testing, liming, proper fertilizing and adding Humic Acid and Liquid AERIFY! to your lawn care program. These techniques will develop a deeper root system to buffer the turf plant from stress, enhance the color of the turf, especially entering winter dormancy and quicker green-up in the spring and thicken the lawn by establishing new plants from rhizomes and tillers. Neglecting your lawn problems now and waiting until spring to repair the lawn is a foolish choice, as crabgrass is much better at competing in then.
Existing lawns can be overseeded with slice- or aero-seeding machines, which will introduce new grass varieties into the lawn without the labor of rototilling. The seed is sliced into groves in the lawn and come up in rows which fill in later. These machines also dethatch the lawn at the same time and the old dead grass can be left on the lawn to help keep the new seedlings moist. These programs which cost 10 to 15 cents per square foot are a reasonable way to have a thick, healthy lawn without a lot of hassle. It is best to seed before Labor Day to have a second chance to seed your lawn in mid-October before it gets to cold to germinate seedlings.
If weeds and crabgrass have taken over the lawn, it might be time to use a non-selective herbicide to eliminate ugly noxious grasses and unwanted weeds. It takes one to two weeks to control weeds such as violets and ground ivy, but if you are brave enough to live with a brown lawn for a month the results will be worth it. Once the old lawn is dead, the yard is seeded in two to three directions to cultivate the new seed into the soil.
The benefits of fall seeding are that normal crabgrass control methods can be used the following spring to stop crabgrass from taking over the lawn. In fact continuing care the next year is essential to any success that these programs will have. Seeding is just the first step, continuing to fertilize and lime as needed will promote the thickening and overall health of your new lawn. Frequent mowing and watering are also essential parts of any lawn care program, to establish a thick green weed free lawn.