Fall Fertilizer Tips To Set Your Calendar By
Fall is right around the corner. That means its time to play football, pick out pumpkins and prep our lawns for the cold winter months ahead. Fall fertilizing can set your lawn up for success year-round, but timing does matter. Drill down on the best practices for fall fertilizer with the experts from Spring-Green, your neighborhood lawn care professionals since 1977. The dates of the first frost in your area will vary by region, but heres what you generally need to know for fall lawn care.
When To Mow New Grass
Continue your normal mowing schedule and wow when the grass reaches a height of 3 to 4 inches. Mow to a height of 3 inches with a sharp mower blade at a time when the grass is not wet. Avoid making aggressive turns that may cause damage in newly repaired areas. Mowers moving straight across repaired areas should have minimal effect. Continue to mow your lawn as needed during the season.
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The Best Time To Plant Grass Seed
When your sights are set on a thick, lush lawn, planting grass seed represents an investment of time, money, labor and hope. From seeding new lawns to repairing rough spots and renewing existing turf, proper timing separates sweet success from something less. Your best time for planting grass seed depends on the type of lawn grass you grow and where you live. Understanding your options and getting timing right helps you seize every opportunity for seeding success.
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Preparing The Ground For Planting
After selecting and purchasing the seed, its time to prepare the soil for the planting process. This is a very important step in knowing how to plant grass seed successfully. The tender roots of young grass plants will not grow well in compacted soils so its essential that this step be done properly. Here are instructions for prepping the ground to overseed bare spots in an established lawn and instructions on how to prepare for planting grass seed in a large bare area.
Preparation for seeding a bare spot in the lawn: Begin by using a cultivator to remove the dead grass. If its a small spot, use a hand cultivator. If its a larger spot, use a diamond hoe or warren hoe. Then, dig up the area down to a depth of two or three inches with a shovel or trowel. Loosen the soil and break up any clumps.
Preparation for planting grass seed in a large bare area: If you want to know how to plant grass seed in larger areas successfully, begin by loosening the top three to five inches of soil. Use a rototiller for the job if its a very large lawn area. Use a shovel or hoe if its an area thats just a few square feet.
Whether the area is small or large, after loosening the soil, its time to rake it smooth. Use a bow rake or a seeding rake to further break up any soil clods and rake the soil out into fine particles and a smooth finish. Use the tines of the rake to smash any large clumps of dirt if necessary.
Dormant Seeding Lawns: Last Chore Of The Season
Bob Mugaas, University of Minnesota Extension Educator
Photo 1 : Thin lawn area that could benefit from dormant seeding. Bob Mugaas.
One last shot at lawn improvement can be done even yet this fall. By early November, most lawn care chores and activities are completed lawn mowers are put away, watering has ended, hoses are drained and stored for the winter, irrigation systems have been blown out and winterized and, the last, late season nitrogen fertilizer has been put down. Yet, there remains one activity that can still be done to help repair or thicken the lawn for next year. In fact, prior to the early part of November , it would be have been too early to do this task. That task is known as dormant seeding. It is best employed when wanting to reseed bare soil areas or help thicken up thin lawns. It is not as effective, where lawns are thick and dense with little opportunity to achieve the good seed to soil contact necessary for the grass seeds to germinate and grow next spring.
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To Answer The Questions Above
If you wait until later summer you are looking at 3 months of root growth for the new grass before the cold weather sets in and everything stops growing for the Winter. This will give the new grass all Fall and then all the following Spring to develop strong roots before it will have to endure the summer heat. It will also take the pressure off your watering bill due to Fall rains that usually occur.
Should I Seed My Lawn In The Spring Or Fall
Should I seed my lawn in the Spring or Fall?
Spring or Fall Seeding
That is a tough question! Here are some questions that you have to answer before you decide to seed in the spring or fall.
A Spring seeding means that you really have to really monitor that new grass during the summer. Seeding in the Spring only gives that new grass a few months to establish roots before the hot and stressful weather sets in. This could cause some of the new grass to stress out and die in the heat, leaving the need for more seeding in the fall and more money spent on the project.
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To Seed Or Not To Seed That Is The Question
Hey there Lawn Care Nuts! Did you catch my video from the weekend? If not, some big announcements in there and some DIY Perimeter Pest Control action – spraying and praying on Sunday loads of fun – go watch it here.
Todays subject though, is much more important. Its about seeding. Many of you will remember my guy Chris Heider who runs Handy Dad TV. He has been getting some great results following my cool season lawn plan this season. As you will see below, his results have been stellar – which has him wondering about fall time seeding vs applying pre-emergents. You cant do both so a decision has to be made. With that, lets get right into it:
So I asked Chris to send me some pictures of his lawn and where it stands today as a first example. Youll see those scattered amongst the text below. But first, lets look at the scenarios.
Should I seed in fall or should I not? And similar, aeration – should I aerate or not?
First off, if your lawn is sufficiently thick and healthy dont seed it. There is no need to seed just because all the other cool kids are doing it. I actually think that anytime you seed you run the risk of introducing foreign invaders into your lawn.
If your lawn is at least 75% turfgrass, then Id say skip any fall seeding and work on the existing stuff. Save the expense and the risk.
- 3oz RGS
- 3oz Humic12
Combined 9oz/gallon, 1 gallon covers 1,000 sq ft
Consider Dormant Seeding Your Lawn This Fall
Ive received many questions from homeowners recently regarding fall seeding options if theyve missed the optimal seeding window from mid-August to mid-September. If youve missed that window, but you still want to conduct seeding practices this fall, my recommendation is to wait until November to seed. This practice is called dormant seeding and is certainly an effective way to introduce new species and/or varieties of turf into your existing lawn.
If you havent kept up with watering during the fall drought, you are right to expect the worst next spring. In this case a fall dormant seeding might help you to sleep better during the winter months knowing that your lawn has seed ready to start growing next spring.
I have re-posted an article written by retired Extension Turfgrass Educator Bob Mugaas, which was previously published in the University of Minnesota Extension Yard and Garden News publication: This is a great article that applies well to this fall and should be considered. In it, Bob mentions that seed to soil contact is a very important aspect that will ensure a higher success rate from the dormant seeding process. My only caution is that if you have existing grass you want to preserve, consider being less aggressive with the your practices.choose the hand rake versus a power rake if this is a concern to you.
As always, call or email with questions.
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Considerations For Seeding Lawns In Late Fall
Is October too late to seed?
The best time to plant new tall fescue and bluegrass seed is in early to mid September. When it’s October, people often wonder if it is too late to plant new seed. The good news is if you hurry, seed can still be planted in October with the hope that it will survive the upcoming winter.
Although September is the best time, often we can still plant grass seed up to October 15 with good results. The problem with late season seeding is that Mother Nature is working against us. Shorter days and cooler temperatures prolong the germination of the seed and its establishment.
Establishment of the tender grass is a must for it to survive the winter. Grass that is seeded late can die as a result of the cold harsh conditions, or due to drying out. Freezing and thawing of the soil, coupled with a lack of moisture, leaves the tender roots and crowns susceptible to desiccation.
Seeding late into the season still requires the same steps. Proper soil preparation is a must. This is best accomplished by either verticutting the lawn or through core aeration. These machines open the surface and allow the seed to come in contact with the soil.
Timely irrigation is also very important. Once the seed is sown the upper surface of the soil should remain damp at all times. This may require daily, light applications. It all depends on the amount of sun and wind. Be prepared to water when needed as lack of water will slow establishment.
If You Seed Too Late In The Fall Your Lawn Wont Fill In
Myth: Seeding late in Fall means your lawn will never fill in.
Fact: Dormant seeding often yields incredibly satisfactory results.
Late Fall seeding often generates an incredibly productive growing season the following year. That seed will lay dormant until conditions are right. Dormant seeding is a very viable option for re-establishing the desired turf density.
Some of our clients get this done for their property. This is also how we maintain the turf density on many of the athletic fields were responsible for in school districts, colleges, and universities across the Mid-State.
If late Fall seeding works to maintain turf density on a lacrosse field , it will certainly help you maintain a thick, beautiful lawn.
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First Should You Be Planting Grass In The Fall Or In The Spring
The answer depends on the type of grass seed youre planting.Early fall is the best time to plant cool-season grasses, such as Fescue, Rye and Bluegrass. These grasses grow best when the temperature is between 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit, and benefit from the shorter days and cooler nights. There is also less competition from crabgrass and foxtails.
Warm-season grasses, on the other hand, should be planted in late spring/early summer, after the last frost date. These include Bermuda, St. Augustine and Zoysia.
Correct Existing Lawn Problems
For troubles beyond normal thinning, test your soil and make corrections before overseeding. Follow test recommendations for using soil amendments and repairing bare lawn spots. If needed, take time to dethatch and core aerate compacted lawns so air, moisture and seed can get to the soil. Pennington One Step Complete products combine premium seed with a stabilized-release fertilizer and wood mulch to simplify lawn repairs.
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When You Should Reseed Your Lawn
Geography determines the best time to reseed your lawn. Heres why fall is the best time for reseeding lawn in the North:
- For starters, thats when grass normally matures its own crop of seeds, if left to its own devices
- An ideal time would be at least 45 days before the first average fall frost date
- Unlike spring, the soil is already warmed up, encouraging germination.
Reasons To Sow Grass Seed In Autumn
During autumn many fear it is too cold for seed germination but this is not the case at all. The recommended soil temperature is 8-10 degrees plus, a temperature that many parts of South England will see even in November.
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Establishing Good Seed To Soil Contact
Success of any grass seeding process depends largely on good seed to soil contact. Therefore, the initial step in preparing the area is to loosen the soil surface so the seed can easily be incorporated into the surface half-inch or so of loose soil. Small areas of bare soil or even a thin turfgrass stand can easily be prepared using a hand rake. Larger areas of sparse turfgrass can be prepared by lightly going over the surface with a power rake or vertical mower available from most rental agencies. Set the blades just deep enough to penetrate into the top ¼ inch or so of soil. This will also help remove small thatch layers that may be present, as well as any dead grass plant parts laying on the surface of the soil.
Rake up the grass plant debris that was brought to the surface from this process so that it will not interfere with sowing the grass seed. This debris can easily be composted or used as a mulch in another area of the landscape. Remember these units are NOT intended to be used as rototillers. They are designed and used to remove thatch with only light penetration into the surface soil. Hence, use them appropriately your rental service will appreciate your proper use of their equipment.
Photo 3 : Using a vertical mower to prepare lawn/soil surface prior to seeding. Bob Mugaas.
Water And Keep Off The Lawn
Finally, you will want to water your lawn for about 2-3 weeks.
You will want to water your lawn at least every other day to ensure your little baby grass is able to come in properly.
Be sure to follow the best practices for watering the lawn.
For best results water in the early morning before the sun rises.
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How To Overseed Your Lawn
For cool-season turf, start the overseeding process by thoroughly aerating the lawn. Apply the new seed with a fertilizer spreader, following the product’s recommended coverage rate. It’s ideal when the seeds fall into the aeration holes because they won’t dry out as quickly and will germinate faster. You can even go over the lawn with the back of a rake to usher more seeds into the holes.
Follow the seeding with an application of your favorite fall fertilizer, applying it the same day as the seed, then water the lawn. Water once or twice every day until the new grass has begun to grow. The seed may need two weeks or more to germinate. Continue to mow the lawn as usual until it stops growing for the season.
What To Expect From Newly Planted Grass Seed
Proper timing allows all types of grass seedlings to root well and get established before natural stresses hit. What that looks like in your lawn can vary depending on your grass type, your growing region and the conditions in any given year.
Grass types and varieties vary in their natural germination speeds. For example, cool-season Kentucky bluegrass germination can take two to three times as long as tall fescue varieties. Similarly, warm-season Zoysia grass may take two to three times longer than Bermudagrass. In addition, many seed products include a mix of seed types that germinate at different speeds.
Whether you’re repairing bare spots, overseeding an existing lawn or starting from scratch, you can generally expect grass seedlings to emerge within seven to 21 days when grown under proper conditions. It may take another three to four weeks of growth before grass is long enough to mow. For fall-planted seed, this can mean waiting until spring for your first mowing. Some grasses, such as Zoysia grass, may need several months of growth to fully establish.
Much of the initial growth of new grass seedlings happens underground, where you can’t see it. New roots get grass firmly established, prepared for the seasons ahead and positioned for strong, rapid growth when their peak season arrives. With proper timing, new grass seedlings compete well for light, water and nutrients and fight off lawn diseases and pests, including lawn weeds.
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