Fall is for planting grass

I love this cooler weather, and that rain last week was long overdue.  However, I’m not so sure about how quickly it cools down at night.  That can mean only one thing. . . Fall is on its way.  The way things are shaping up, it feels like an early winter.  If I’m right, then we had better get to work, because there are so many things to do before the next growing season.  My list of projects seems endless: planting fall bulbs, planting a little grass, fertilizing the lawn and taking care of weeds; and that is just the beginning.  For now, lets focus on planting a new lawn or rejuvenating an old one.

The warmer it is, the quicker grass seed germinates.  Many times I have heard gardeners lament the heat when planting grass in the summer months, but I’m here to tell you that August and September are the most productive months for getting your new lawn started. Warm soil temperatures equal fast germination and warm, dry air usually means fewer diseases and problems as the grass starts growing. Despite having to water more frequently to keep the new seed moist, you generally don’t have to water as long to get it to germinate, therefore saving water.

Many different types and styles of grasses have become available over the last few years for home lawns.  Many new varieties handle shade, traffic, abuse, less water and a variety of different conditions and still look good.  Hybrid bluegrass blends, turf-type rye and bluegrass blends, and turf-type rye/turf-type fescue blends definitely will look better and perform better under varying conditions than some of the trendy prairie grasses that have been popular the last few years. These new blends need less water to stay green and beautiful all summer, they green up early and stay green long into the fall, and they tolerate pests and diseases much better than older varieties. Anderson’s Select is our special, hand-pickeded bluegrass blend that looks gorgeous and tolerates Cache Valley weather.  For a rye/fescue mix, try Mark’s Mix.  Once established you can water once every 7-10 days and it will stay green all summer.  You’ll be surprised how great it looks too!

When preparing the soil for planting, make sure you rake, groom, grade and remove any large rocks or other undesired obstacles. Prepare it exactly the way you want it because once the seed is planted, it’s too late to fix it. At this point, use a good starter fertilizer like 16-16-16 or Ferti-lome’s New Lawn Starter and Natural Guard Soil Activator to build up some nutrient and organic matter to help the seed germinate and grow. A new product from Fertilome, Aqueduct, will also work wonders if you have clay or compacted soil. Many gardeners have trouble with water puddling or covering their soil evenly when planting new grass. The Aqueduct will eliminate these problems by helping the soil absorb water more evenly and helping with drainage issues in lower areas where puddles like to form. It’s amazing how it
just sucks the water down into the worst clay soils.

After fertilizing and seeding, make sure to roll the entire area with a lawn roller, slightly pressing the seed into the soil. This will help with erosion problems, keep the seed from blowing away and also help with germination. Don’t neglect this important step.

Try and keep the soil moist at all times, but don’t over water. This is where the Aqueduct and the Soil Activator will really help. Short 2-4 minute applications throughout the day to just keep the soil damp works best. If the soil dries out a little between waterings, that isn’t a problem. Consistent moisture is the key to good germination.

Most seed will germinate in about 10-14 days during this warmer time of year and you should be mowing for the first time about 6-8 weeks later. Fertilize again with 16-16-16 about 4-6 weeks after the first application to help the new grass thicken up and spread out. Generally by the time winter hits, the grass should be well established and on its way. Then stand back and enjoy the beauty that you have created.

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