Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Western Mountains and High Plains
September, 2010
Regional Report

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Autumn is one of the best times to apply a balanced lawn fertilizer to your lawn.

Time to Renovate Tired Lawns

Your lawn has survived another long, hot, dry summer. Or has it? Are you discovering unsightly weed patches, thinning grass, and possibly yellow-brown patchy spots? Late summer lawn problems may be turning your emerald carpet of green into "Death Valley."

Time for a Lawn Checkup
Don't despair. Early fall is a perfect time for nurturing weak and tired lawns back to a thick green carpet. The cooler air temperatures and warm soil will quicken grass seed germination, encourage roots to grow deeply, and reduce competition from invading weeds. Just remember to purchase grass seed from a reputable source; don't buy the cheapest grass mixtures, which often contain coarse-textured grasses. Investing in a top-quality grass seed will pay off handsomely later on.

Lawn Patch-Ups
You can easily patch a weedy, dead, or damaged section of your lawn by raking out the affected parts or digging out the weeds. Then use a heavy-duty rake to make grooves in the soil surface. Next, sprinkle a handful of all-purpose, granular fertilizer such as 5-10-5 and a one half-inch layer of compost over the spot. Rake in vigorously and smooth the area.

Seeding Time
Now you're ready to spread seed over the area. You can distribute the seed by hand (just like feeding chickens), 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 that the seed has come into contact with the soil. Keep the area moist (daily watering is recommended) until the seedlings begin to germinate. Once the new grass has germinated, you can begin to water less frequently but 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. Once the new grass is thick and established, mow it at the height intended for the entire lawn.

Sod Planting
For an instant lawn, try planting sod. Now is the perfect time. When ready, dig out the dead areas of the lawn and prepare the soil as previously mentioned, but dig down about an inch or deeper to allow for placement of the new sod pieces. Cut the sod into pieces to fit the patches and plant them level with the existing grade. Lightly pack the new sod with the back end of the rake and then water in well.

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