Here's The Dirt on Getting a Spectacular Lawn

Here's The Dirt on Getting a Spectacular Lawn

September is knocking on our door, and it is the perfect time to spruce up your lawn. Every year we seem to battle something new. This year had an incredible amount of rain and fungus which attacked lawns. Weeds emerged like never before!  Then came the beetles which chomped on our shrubs and trees. They probably have laid their larvae in our lawns and grubs will attack later on!  It just seems there is always something happening....

So many people reported an orange substance stuck to their shoes after mowing or walking in their lawns. This is rust caused by high humidity, cool nights and excess moisture. Fertilizing will help to eliminate this problem. Pythium blight, red thread and brown patch, (all fungus related problems) have been really devastating lawns this past month or so. The destruction of your lawn because of these diseases can make you want to pull your hair out. What's one to do?


Well now we can save our lawns with a little due diligence now during the month of September. If you are installing a new lawn, now is the perfect time. Typically, in normal years, if there is such a thing, days are warm and evenings are cool. Thus ground temperatures allow new seed to pop out of the ground and grow thick beautiful lawns. Weeds are not as aggressive and new seeds can flourish without interruption of competing undesirable weeds. For new lawns, scarify your soil and loosen dirt. Apply seed at the rate of 5-6# per thousand square feet or 3 seeds per the diameter of a dime. Add a good slow-release fertilizer and cover with straw or a recycled paper mulch. Keep watered well and seeds will germinate as soon as 5-7 days for perennial ryegrasses. Bluegrasses can take as long as 21 days to germinate. Typically fall rains occur and watering is reduced. Please remember, do not apply a weed killer until you have cut your lawns 3-4 times.


I like to reseed my lawn every year in mid-September. Adding new seeds helps thicken old lawns and repairs damaged lawns or thin lawns caused by drought or other reasons. I usually use a rate of 2# per thousand square feet for reseeding. Placing too many seeds in one area looks great when it starts to grow but chokes out lawns as they are too thick for blades to capture enough sunlight. Be frugal when reseeding so as to not over do it.


If you have not aerated your lawn, now is a great time to do so. An aerator literally pulls plugs of dirt out of your lawn and drops them on top of the grass. This allows fertilizer, insecticides and seeds to penetrate a little deeper into your ground. I highly recommend aerating your lawn at least every 3 years. This helps alleviate thatch layer in your lawn. Thatch is an area which develops from dead stolons and leaves from your grass. If you have more than a half inch of thatch when you pull a plug of soil out and examine it from your yard, it's time to aerate. Too much thatch over time will not allow even water to penetrate through your lawn thus making it more difficult to attain a superior lawn.

The most important thing you can do for your lawn is fertilize in the fall of the year. The cool evenings and warm ground temperatures are perfect for establishing awesome root growth. Better roots mean better plants. Apply a good fall fertilizer now and again in early to mid-October. I feel we will have an extended warm planting season and these two applications of food will be a great investment into restoring your lawn to an awesome green. I love my dad's blend of fertilizer he developed 50 plus years ago. Pandy's Golf Green is a slow release, continuous feed that lasts for up to 8 weeks. Extra iron is added for deep rich greening of lawns as well. If you try it once, you will be back for more. For those of you who have purchased Fertilome's 3 step program, September 1st is THE time for the 2nd application of your program which would be the Lawn Food Plus Iron. Mark your calendar to do this again on October 1st.


As for seed selections, do not purchase cheap seed. Although it may look like a value now, you could have an extra amount of weed seed present in the mix or actually be purchasing annual ryegrass which is a trick used by big box stores. Annual rye germinates quick but dies after a cold spell so read the label and stay away from this seed. I recommend a one third mix of Kentucky Blue grass, red fescue and perennial ryegrass. This is a "match all" sun and shady seed mix which does well. We install Fairway mix on all the lawns our landscape department installs for our clients. A blend of 3 hybridized ryegrasses and 40% Kentucky Bluegrass. Once established, it is a thick tough lawn. And if you want the best of the best, use our All-Pro blend of 3-4 Hybridized blue grass and only 20% of hybridized perennial ryes. It costs a little more, but remember, you get what you pay for!!


The last seed I will talk about is TLC mix or Titan Limited. This is a blend of 3-4 hybridized turf type tall fescue grasses. The beauty of turf type tall fescue grass is it is tough as nails. Given the perfect conditions, roots have the potential to grow 3' deep.  With this seed, you do not have to mow as much, fertilize as much, and it naturally deters Canadian geese from colonizing on your lawn because of its endophytes. It is also disease resistant. What more could you ask for in a lawn? Well, the final attribute is, it is self-repairing due to the plant's rhizomes. If someone should use your lawn as a baseball field and slides into home base causing a strip of grass being ripped out of the ground, you need not worry. This area will repair itself and grass blades will merge together given time. It's great for sun or shade and stays green during periods of drought.


September is also a great time to get rid of tough weeds like ground ivy, creeping Charlie, chickweed and clover. An application of Hi Yield Brand Triclopry Ester will help to eliminate problematic weeds like those just listed. Fall is great because these weeds have huge amounts of root mass and a spray now will translocate into the root system finally killing these pests, roots and all. Add a spreader sticker to aid in having a better kill. Spreader sticker is a "glue" which allows the chemical sprayed to adhere to the leaves of the weeds. This really helps and improves results ten-fold especially on clover which has a natural water repellant nature to the plant.


We have nice days ahead so get out there and plan on fixing that lawn this upcoming week. Shop our local family owned garden center and consult the experts here to help with specific problems. Our knowledge of pests, diseases and weeds are second to none and their recommendations will help you regain your turf.

J.R. Pandy, "The No B.S.Gardener"
Pandy's Premier Garden Center

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