The Q&A Archives: Help re-establish a lawn

Question: I live in a very hilly area in southeast Wisconsin. The location is known to have very rocky soil. We have rocks that seem to work their way up and appear on the surface of the soil. I would like to reclaim my lawn.

I heard that Kentucky Bluegrass may be the answer. Some claim due to the short root system, it can even grow on concrete. I do not know if this grass is acceptable for my climate, zone 5. Is there something I can begin doing now or even in fall to get a head start on accomplishing a healthy lawn?

The other question is what time frame should I follow for seeding, fertilizing, weed control, etc. to re-establish my lawn?

Answer: I'm sure you know that you will never ever eliminate all the rocks in your soil, so your best approach is to simply plant turfgrass and deal with the stones that rear their vicious heads by prying them out of the lawn and filling in the spot with topsoil, reseeding and waiting for the next generation of stones to appear. Kentucky bluegrass is the lawn of choice in your area. If you have the funds, sod would give you an instant, weed-free lawn. The benefits of sod, aside from instant lawn, is that the root system is well developed which will keep rocks from surfacing for quite some time. However, if you'd rather seed your new lawn, late summer and early fall are the best times to do it. That's when temperatures are cooler and rainfall abundant, both of which will encourage a deep, healthy root system.

Once you've installed your lawn, regular mowing, watering and fertilizing will keep it lush and green, which will help crowd out weeds. Mow to keep the bluegrass at 2", water deeply once or twice a week (depending upon weather), and feed in April, June, September and late November. Your local Home Depot will generally have the right NPK ratio fertilizer on sale at the proper application time, so watch the newspaper ads.

For right now, get rid of as many weeds as possible, before they go to seed. A weed and feed product can help, or you can spot treat individual weeds. Water whatever lawn you have not, to keep it green and healthy prior to over-seeding or sodding.

Best wishes with your lawn!

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