Are you still wondering if you have time to seed your lawn this Fall? Good news, our friends at Jonathan Green have put the following guide together to let you know that October is not to late to establish a lush, beautiful lawn for next spring!
Seeding early in the fall is always best, but there is still time to develop a thicker, greener lawn if you seed now. It is always better to do so in the fall than waiting for next spring when weeds and cold weather can hinder your efforts. Despite evening temperatures dropping below 60ºF, the soil temperature is about 5º to 10ºF higher. Newly planted grass seed likes warm soil which is one of the reasons why fall is the best time to seed. In warmer soil, grass roots reach down deep to establish the plant before winter weather sets in.
If you’re reseeding or overseeding this fall, follow these steps:
1. Test and Amend Soil pH
If you haven’t tested your soil pH, ( We have soil test kits available at the Garden Center. ) do so now. Your soil pH is critical to growing a healthy lawn. If your pH is not balanced, it can cause weeds to thrive, and limit the amount of nutrients available to your grass plants. Cool-season grasses thrive in soil pH values between 6.2 to 7.0. If your pH is below 7, which is common in Madison and surrounding towns, add Mag-I-Cal, to balance your soil pH. The calcium in this product also helps to strengthen cell walls and prepare grass plants for winter, while reducing disease potential.
2. Prepare Soil and Seed
Proper soil preparation is key to growing a successful lawn. Although some of the seeds may germinate if you were to simply throw the seed onto your lawn, you will not see great results without preparing your soil.
First, rake the areas that will be seeded vigorously to loosen the soil. Alternatively, rent a power rake or slit seeding machine for the best results. If needed, level the ground. Next, apply the seed with a spreader to ensure even coverage. Be sure not to bury newly planted grass seed more than ¼ inch in depth. Once seed is applied, turn your rake over and gently swish it back and forth to barely cover the seed. Seed to soil contact is very important and enhances germination.
By this time of year, we may experience the first frost, but lawns will still grow with sunny days ahead. The first frost also will kill any existing crabgrass, which is another reason fall seeding is preferred to spring. If you notice bare spots in your lawn after crabgrass has died, you can fill them in with new grass seed.
Fall is a great time to grow grass, and thus is also a great time to feed your lawn! An application of Winter Survival Fall Lawn Food or other low nitrogen fertilizer is great at this time. Fertilizing twice in the fall, once in late August and once in late October, will keep your lawn green throughout the rest of the year. Winter Survival is not too high in Nitrogen, as excess Nitrogen can lead to snow mold disease problems later in winter and spring.
4. Control Weeds
Another reason fall is ideal for seeding is that there are less weeds! This means that weed control in lawns at this time of year is generally limited to broadleaf weeds. Provided weeds are actively growing and soil temperatures are above 55ºF, you can successfully control many types of broadleaf weeds.
If you only have a few weeds throughout your lawn, spot spraying is most effective. However, if you have a lot of weeds, a broadcast application of Green-Up Weed & Feed is best. Why not give your lawn its last feeding for the season and clean out as many weeds as you can before next year?
Note: Do not apply weed control for at least four weeks after seeding. If you do, it will hurt the new seedling’s development. Before four weeks or up until the second mowing the new grass will not be able to handle the effects of the herbicide.
One last tip before you go: keep mowing your lawn as long as it needs it into late fall! Be sure your mower blades are sharp and in good working order. You can leave clippings on the lawn provided they are not wet or developing clumps which may kill existing grass.
In conclusion, it is not too late to seed your lawn in October and it always better to seed a lawn in the fall, than waiting until next spring.