Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Western Mountains and High Plains
August, 2009
Regional Report

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A properly mowed lawn and early fall aeration will make your lawn grow thick and become the envy of the neighborhood.

Time to Give Your Lawn A Boost for Early Autumn

It's been an unusual summer with the frequent rain storms, micro-bursts that have blown down mature trees, hail, and cooler than normal night temperatures. In my case that's been good news for my lawn since I haven't had to water so much so the water bill is going to be lower than normal. However, with all good things, there comes a possible increase in water rates because water providers haven't sold as much water as they may have projected. We'll wait and see.

It's a great time to get your lawn ready for an early fall boost. Mowing regularly with a sharp lawn mower blade will keep the lawn looking its best. Don't skimp on having the lawn get a deep core-aeration to loosen the soil from all the summer activities and foot traffic that have compacted the soil.

I have to confess that I've neglected my own lawn for other priorities, so I've got my share of thin spots, a few weeds popping up, and even the resident squirrels have planted some black walnuts that have sprouted. Don't especially like walking barefoot over a walnut seedling!

Now is a perfect time for nurturing your lawn back into shape and make it fill in the thin spots by overseeding with a quality lawn seed. Rather than using "grass patch" seed mix that meets all needs since it often contains a mixture of wide-leafed grasses and other unknown grasses, find a grass seed that will match or blend in with your current lawn. Of course, I'll have my lawn core-aerated before I scatter the seed to make sure there are tiny pockets for the seed to lodge, stay moist, and germinate more uniformly.

Since we've had cooler night temperatures while the daytime temperatures are relatively warm but not scalding hot, the root system of cool-season grasses are ready to start re-growing and making new tillers and rhizomes. This is the key to thickening up a thin, tired lawn. Remember, the denser the lawn, the less opportunity for weed invasion. So be sure and yank out weed invaders and cut off weed seed heads before they can redistribute. Dispose of the weeds in the garbage. .

Patching Thin and Dead Spots in the Lawn
You can easily patch a weedy, dead, or damaged section of your lawn by raking out the affected parts and digging out the weeds. Use a heavy-duty rake to make grooves into the soil surface. Next, broadcast an organic fertilizer over the area and work in an inch or so of compost to improve the structure of the soil. Rake this in vigorously and smooth the area.

Now you're ready to spread the seed over the area. You can distribute the seed by hand, or use a small, hand-held spreader set for grass seed. After the patch has been seeded, rake the area again. Then, tamp the soil lightly with the back end of the rake to ensure the seed has come in contact with the soil. Keep the newly seeded area moist by watering lightly two to three times a day; morning, noon, and late afternoon. This watering schedule is critical for the first 10 to 14 days to insure that the seeds germinate. Once the new grass has germinated, you can begin to water less frequently, but water deeply to encourage a deep, strong root system.

The existing grass around the patch should be mowed regularly to keep tall grass from shading the germinating seedlings. As the new grass develops, mow at the same height intended for the entire lawn.

Take advantage of the cooler weather and get out there and make a difference in your lawn.

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