Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Pacific Northwest
October, 2004
Regional Report

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Newly seeded areas may look sparse at first, but they'll fill in as the grass blades mature.

Rejuvenating Summer-Stressed Lawns

Summer heat and drought can certainly take its toll on lawns, especially here in the Pacific Northwest where we primarily plant cool-season grasses. Early fall, with its reliably cooler air temperatures and abundant rainfall, is the perfect time to renovate a lawn.

Whether your lawn is drought-stressed and thin, or simply has a few weedy, dead or damaged sections, you can renew and repair it any time between September and late November in our region and have a lush, healthy lawn by next spring. Begin by vigorously raking out dead or damaged sections and digging out the weeds. Then use a heavy-duty rake to make grooves in the soil surface. Once that's done, sprinkle a handful of all-purpose, granular fertilizer, such as 5-10-5, over the area and add a 1/2-inch layer of compost. Rake it in and smooth the surface.

Seed Selection
When you've finished with all the preliminaries, you're ready to spread the seed. Purchase good quality fescue or perennial rye, or a custom blend for the amount of shade or sun your site receives. Local nurseries can offer advice if you need help selecting the right varieties for your growing conditions.

You can broadcast the seed by hand, or use a small, hand-held spreader set for grass seed. After the patch has been seeded, gently rake it in and tamp the soil lightly with the back of the rake to ensure that the seed has come into contact with the soil. Keep the area moist (water daily) until the seedlings begin to germinate. Once the new grass has germinated, you can water less frequently, but be sure to water deeply to encourage a strong root system.

Your renewed turf will benefit from an early-winter application of low-nitrogen fertilizer to help it maintain a healthy root system. I use 5-10-10, feeding the first or second week of December, to encourage stem and root development.

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