Lawn Readiness in Va. – August

Its time folks. Time to start re-evaluating the sad times you have in cultivating a lawn in Zone 7a. If you have a great stand of grass, this will bore you. If you don’t, then this may help you, unless you just have to do what the media tells you. Maybe this will dispel the myths of More is better.

NOTE 1 –     It’s August, Crabgrass and Bermuda are on the prowl. Typically Crabgrass will drop seed around Aug. 12th. So, if you have a bagger, then start bagging the “lawn” now, for about the next 3 weeks. DO NOT APPLY ANYMORE FERTILIZER!. August is your mechanical maintence month. Typically, the Crabgrass that drops seed now, will overwinter, and come up in March. It will be hardy, and it will be hungry. That will be an issue we discuss in, well, March. Right now, the more you bag, the less you will have to overcome in the Spring. So lets get rid of some problems now. Also, Crabgrass and Bermuda, are indicator plantsof compacted soil, so this month, I would core aerate and/or apply pelletized gypsum on the lawn area.

Note 2  –    But….First we need to assimilate the time frame for things to happen. Lets say you are going to overseed in September. This will be accompanied with a feeding of either a Starter fertilizer with an N-P-K of about 20-27-5, or a good dose of 10-10-10. For the seed to germinate properly, there should be good seed-to-soil contact with warm days and cool nights, with some daily dampness. If you can accomplish this, you will see sprigs in about 13 days. So don’t let the next note scare you, but 13 days minus 7 dead days minus 7 mechanical days puts you around August 20th to start, I’ll  ‘splain the math throughout this blog…

Note 3 –    At your start date, you need to apply a nonselective herbicide to your lawn, Yep, if it’s green, it’s dead type, like Round-up. See, you can plant 7 days later with this product, but you won’t. Then you need to get up as much dead material as possible. Round-up does not kill seed, so there will be things trying to pop up from time to time, but it will be manageable.

Note 4 –    Now, how about plug aerating? Do it after clearing your debris, apply the gypsum if you want, and while you are at it, apply your pelleted lime as well.. Lime the season before you feed and before the lawn wakes up in the Spring, so again in say late January. Lawn looks pretty crappy now right? OK, normally people don’t do this, but I would apply some sort of amendment on the bare areas now. Shredded Oak leaves are perfect. or some store bought lawn soil, but just enough to cover the old soil make-up. Now wait.

Note 5 –    OK, Mid September is here. (Pretend, OK?). The amendment, gypsum, and lime have done their thing. Your newly planted “soil” is at the peak of readiness. Your “plugs” have healed for the most part. Time to get the lawn planted. Apply your choice of the above mentioned fertilizers at the recommended rate on the bag. More is not better. Only one. Not both..Do Not Apply Any Fertilizer With A Weed Control Or Pre-emergent! Its all hogwash… There, you’ve been told… Apply the seed at the recommended rate on the bag as well. Turn off irrigation. All you want for the next 10 to 15 days is damp, maybe twice a day if it gets hot. Afteryou see the sprigs come up, then set the irrigation, or run your sprinkler, every other day… Hear me? You want at least 1 1/2 inches of water per week. Not every day, but every other day, deeper. You want to basically, leach the fertilizer down into your properly prepared soil bed, so the roots chase the food. See? Deeper roots, better tops. Water in the morning only so high school biology takes over.

Note 6 –    Do not apply any weed killers at this time. Yeah, your gonna see some things pop up, but either pull them or we can take care of in October. Remember to take the bagger off, you are going to be re-cycling (mulching) until mid October. Do not feed anymore until mid to late October, at which time we will discuss “Winterizers“, completely different animals. You are about to really impress yourself on this….

See you in September.