Unless you received severe heat and drought stress in late summer, the weather was somewhat forgiving this year. Do you have a great looking lawn now or a bunch of brown spots? Did your lawn suffer from fungus and insect damage or an infestation of weeds? Is crabgrass rampant in your lawn? Did your dog and kids do a number on your lawn? Did you follow our monthly Timely Tips newsletter this year? If you have not signed up to receive Timely Tips you can do so here.
First you need to determine if the brown areas of your lawn are truly dead. As cooler daytime and nighttime temperatures return with increased rainfall, many lawns that appear to be dead may start to fill in again. If parts of your lawn went into a brown “dormant” stage this summer, it may start to “come back” to life with some green shoots trying to re-establish and multiply. This is the good news; your whole lawn may not be dead! If you have been able to irrigate these brown spots for a few weeks and they do not show signs of re-growth, these lawn areas probably are dead and need to be over-seeded. Remember, early fall is the absolute best time to over-seed summer damaged lawns, not next spring. We recommend overseeding with either Black Beauty Ultra grass seed or Fall Magic grass seed.
The key to successful over-seeding is having good seed to soil contact. If you just spread grass seed over existing lawn areas or dead brown spots, you will have poor results. Be sure to rake out any dead grass and loosen compacted-hard soil about an inch deep or more so the new grass roots have a chance to grow in the exposed soil. If you lawn area is too big consider renting a slit seeder, aerator or de-thatching machine to help out. Ask a neighbor or two to share the cost of renting one over the weekend. If you have low soil pH, apply Mag-I-Cal to increase the pH level for optimum growth to a 6.0 to 6.8 range. Be sure to select a proper grass seed mixture for the area you are seeding. Our grass seed mixtures are named for the areas they are best suited for like Full Sun, Sun & Shade and Dense Shade. Are you going to apply New Seeding Lawn Fertilizer? If you don’t that’s like making lemonade with any lemons! Do you have areas of your lawn that roll back easily exposing grub damage? Now is a good time to control grubs since they are so close to the surface. You may over-seed and apply Jonathan Green Grub Control and fertilizer on the same day after complete soil preparation.
What if your lawn survived the summer and it just needs some fertilizer? Well good for you, you are one of the lucky ones. Early fall is a great time to feed and thicken the lawn with Winter Survival Fall Fertilizer. Warm soil and fall rains provide great conditions to grow grass. Established lawns are able to utilize fertilizer very well in early fall. A second application later in fall is even better for healthy lawn growth. This will keep the lawn nice and green late in the year and even green-up the grass up in early spring. Imagine how good your lawn can look next summer after the fall and spring growing seasons create a deep root system.
What about crabgrass? If you have some in your yard you can over-seed with a slit-seeder right into these patches provided you take steps with the proper soil preparation outlined above. Crabgrass will die with the first frost in your area which is usually in October. This will allow newly planted grass seed to thrive due to the lack of competition from the dead crabgrass. If your lawn has less than 50% weeds, you can start re-establish it with over-seeding, however, be sure to correct the low soil pH levels to make grass want to thrive and not weeds. If you have more than 50% weeds, consider killing off the whole areas and establishing a new seed bed for the grass to grow. Create the best lawn you can this fall and reap the rewards all of next year!