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Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 24, 2017

Garden Talk: The time is right to improve your lawn

By Jean Thomson | Aug 31, 2017

Most of our lawns are not looking fabulous right now. In many cases, their appearance simply means that it has been a hard, dry summer. However, if your lawn is seriously thin, worn or patchy, you may want to consider a major renovation in the next few weeks.

Overseeding, or sowing grass seed into an existing lawn, is best completed by mid-September. While this procedure avoids the trouble and cost of tearing up the lawn and starting over, it does require careful attention to each step. Here’s how the horticultural folks at Iowa State University advise us to proceed.

First, mow the lawn lower than usual, as low as 1.5 inches. This step will facilitate good seed-to-soil contact.

Next, rent, borrow or buy a core aerator, which removes plugs of soil when it runs over the lawn. Go over your lawn as many as four times with this machine, establishing a different direction for each pass. Your goal is to have 20 to 40 holes per square foot of lawn.

Now, use a drop seeder to apply grass seed over the entire area. For a sunny area, look for a product containing at least three Kentucky bluegrass cultivars. For partial shade, use a mix of bluegrass, perennial ryegrass and fine-leaf fescues. If your lawn is quite heavily shaded, fine-leaf fescues are the best choice. The seed you purchase is an investment, so look for a high-quality product.

Right after seeding, drag the lawn with a piece of chain link fence or a drag mat so that the soil cores break up and the seed is mixed into the soil.

After all this work, the follow-up care is equally important. Water frequently but lightly to keep the seedbed moist. You may have to water as often as twice daily depending on weather. Continue to mow the lawn to a height of 1.5 to two inches. As new seedlings emerge and begin to be mowed, gradually increase the mowing height.

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