Fall Lawn Renewal

Fall Lawn Renewal

Last week Jamie, aka Dekes, gave a virtual talk about lawn renewal in the fall. (The link to that talk’s recording and the password is on our events page.) He was stressing that September is the perfect time for renewing a lawn. This is particularly important this year as many find that their turf has gone dormant or even died in the drought.

In addition to drought stress, fall is the time when the autumn and winter weeds show up. Dandelions are thriving right now, and soon the chickweed and bittercress that plagued you last spring will be sprouting again. In this blog we give some tips for September lawn care.

Here is how my lawn looks right now. Not too bad, considering that we don’t use automatic irrigation…we water deeply once a week. One reason it’s in decent shape is that we mow it at 3 1/2 inches high, and may wait two weeks to mow so that the grass can get stronger by growing longer. As you can see, I’m a fan of clover in the lawn.

The first step for good lawn care is to address any compacted soil issues. When soil is compacted, no amount of fertilizer or water will make that grass grow well. Soil compaction is remediated by the following steps.

  • Aerate your lawn if it hasn’t been done recently.
  • Mow the grass shorter than usual and then top-dress with compost. Dekes recommends buying bulk compost, and spreading it with a wheelbarrow. Dump two or three loads on the grass and then rake it out so that it’s a half inch to an inch thick. You’ll quickly see how much turf a wheelbarrow load covers, and that will help ensure that you don’t end up with too much compost in any one spot. Besides, alternating the shoveling, transport, dumping and raking movements is better on your body.
  • Seed over the compost and roll the lawn (Country Garden rents our roller) to make sure the compost and seed are in good contact. Water well, and keep the soil moist while the seed is germinating.
  • Apply Bio-Remedy with a hose end sprayer.
Top dress lawns with compost in September.

“What about fertilizing?” you ask. Yes, the fall fertilization is important, but for a lawn that’s in distress from the drought the compost, seed and Bio-Remedy are more important, Dekes stresses, because it helps build soil health.

  • If your lawn is in good shape, fertilize with an organic product in September. Just because some fertilizers have “winter” in their name, that doesn’t mean that the cold season is the time to apply them. In fact, it’s against Massachusetts state law to apply fertilizers between December 1st and March 1st.
  • Pull dandelions and plantain, and dig out other weeds and weed grasses as needed.
Dandelions are thriving in September, so it’s a good time to pull them out.
Dekes explains the importance of healthy soil and deep root systems in the virtual talk he gave in late August.

Continue to mow your lawn at 3 or 4 inches high, and allow the clippings to fall back on the turf to help amend the soil. Water deeply less often. And if you’re interested in adding clover or mini-clover to your turf, come into the store to talk with Dekes or other members of the staff in our Garden Department.

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