PLANNING AHEAD: September is ‘Lawn Month’

In Pennsylvania, and locations with a similar climate, the Fall season provides the best opportunity for lawn improvement!

WHY SEPTEMBER?
To learn more about why that’s true, see September is Lawn Month. It’s usually best to get grass growing prior to heavy leaf drop, so there’s a “window of opportunity” if seeding is part of your improvement plan. Mid-October was typically our cut-off point for seeding a new lawn, but the climate has been warming, and weather has become more unpredictable.

LATE FALL SEEDING VS EARLY SEEDING
While frost doesn’t seem to have a great affect on young seedlings, a hard freeze always appeared to curtail seedling growth. And believe it or not, with adequate water available, some of the best lawns we planted in the 20th century were seeded during the last week of August!

MAKING YOUR SOIL ITS VERY BEST!
Planning ahead provides time for a soil test, which should be the first step in any serious lawn improvement program. Following those soil test recommendations should be combined with any sort of lawn seeding you have planned with a grass seed mix. Chances are your soil test will call for an application of agricultural lime, to raise the soil pH. This will make future fertilizer applications more effective.

THICKENING-UP THE LAWN
Since grass seed germinates best with “seed to soil contact” it’s worthwhile to rent a machine to core aerate your lawn, since seed will actually grow out of those aeration holes. Be sure to mark and avoid shallow utilities and things like electric dog fences. Going together with a neighbor can save on rental cost. Annual core aeration should become a big part of any good lawn maintenance program.

SODDING A LAWN?
While laying sod will provide you with an “instant lawn,” the grass variety in most local sod (Kentucky bluegrass) may not match what you already have. Bluegrass is also known for being higher maintenance in the long run, since you have to pay closer attention to things like thatch build-up.

GRASS SEED MIXES
In Pennsylvania, seed mixes called “Penn State Mix” have gained popularity while having no association with the university. Those mixes have a large percentage of what a former turf professor called “throw and grow” (Turf-type Perennial Ryegrass). As with sod, your seed mix may not match what’s already growing in your lawn, which is why some people recommend a grass seed mix containing several different grass varieties. BTW: with grass seed, you usually get what you pay for, so it’s no time to scrimp!

XERISCAPING INSTEAD?
With increasing heat and drought across the globe, this may be the time to consider eliminating some (or all) of your lawn with xeriscaping, to help conserve water and save on irrigation costs. My earlier blog “Nonfunctional Grass” covers this topic further, as well as “Death to Lawns.”

MORE: Lawn Information Index

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