Growing Concerns: ‘Dew’ repair your lawn at this time of year

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I have had lots of questions recently about lawns and the care they require now that fall is just around the corner.

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I am sure you have noticed the weather is starting to cool and the grass has begun to grow again. Grass gets a lot of its moisture from the dew that forms in the early morning. That’s why in early spring and again in the fall grass seems to grow more quickly than during the heat of the summer, even with us watering it.

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Because of the cool early mornings and the dew, this is the perfect time to add grass seed to lawns or repair soon spots in your lawn.

But — and this is important to remember — every time you dig up the soil, you introduce light and moisture to weed seeds that have been lying dormant and therefore you encourage weeds to grow. Gone are the years when to start a new lawn you had to turn the soil and dig up your existing lawn. Now the trend is to cut the existing grass as short as possible, add some compost to these areas and then top dress with grass seed.

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The best thing to do is to hand-pull as many weeds from your lawn as possible and then use a chemical spot treatment to kill off any other weeds. Then add compost to the areas that are in rough shape. There have been times when I have added about half an inch of compost to the whole lawn.

Next add grass seed. To top dress, you need about a pound of grass seed for every 500 square feet. I like to put half of this amount on at a time, spread out over two weeks. I do this so that the grass seed does not have as much competition for moisture to get started.

Remember that grass seed needs light to germinate so cover it with only a small amount of compost. Less than a quarter inch is good. Keep the compost moist and you should see germination in three to seven days, if not sooner.

This is the last call to fertilize trees, shrubs and perennials to give them enough time to harden off and prepare for winter before the weather gets really cold.

Grass can be fertilized any time from now until Thanksgiving. Use a fertilizer with a high last number to encourage good strong root growth.

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