Since my buddy Punxsutawney Phil told us there’d be six more weeks of winter, you have a bit more planning time to make THIS the year your lawn looks its best.
Start out by getting rid of the thatch using a good multi-purpose rake. Take your time and enjoy yourself. After all, you’ve been cooped up inside – so breathe in some fresh air and work a bit. Once the lawn is thatched and raked, you’ll see all the thin and bare spots. Don’t worry, we all have ’em!
Loosen up the soil in the bare spots by about an inch or so. Gee, I wonder what soil-cultivating tool you might want to use? Garden Weasel can help you there!
With the soil pulverized in the bare spots, sprinkle the right amount of good quality fertilizer. Your local lawn and garden retailer can help you determine what’s best for your area and type of lawn. Then, rake it level.
If you have bare spots that were beaten down from heavy traffic, don’t be afraid to loosen that soil up as much as six inches deep. Adding some peat moss or gypsum can keep it loose after seeding.retailer can help you determine what’s best for your area and type of lawn. Then, rake it level.
After your soil is nice and loose and the ground is as level as possible, it’s time to lay down some top-quality seed. Use a seed mix that works best for your location. For example, some seed works well in shade, while others are made for sunny spots. Again, make friends with your lawn and garden retailer for questions about your lawn.
To test if your soil is ready, here’s a tip: Pick up a handful of soil and make it into a ball. If it can form a solid ball, it’s still too wet. If the ball crumbles away, it’s ready for seeding. Buy the best seed you can afford. High quality grass seed is almost always weed free and tested for germination rate and overall performance.
Another key: Seed your most troublesome bare spots by hand. And do it sparingly – only about six seeds per square inch will survive. Any more than that is a waste of seed and money.
After the seed is down, spray with a light mist of water. Your new grass will get off to a faster start if you cover the reseeded areas with polyethylene plastic. This will keep the moisture in the soil and eliminates the need for constant sprinkling. You can secure the edges of the plastic sheet with stakes, or just use small rocks.
Keep an eye out and be sure to remove the polyethylene when the first seedlings appear. This is key. The plastic is great for the seeds until they germinate – but then they can kill the seedlings unless you remove it. Keep the soil moist by spraying it with a light mist two or three times a day until the grass is about an inch high. Keep watering the area at least once a week until it is about three inches tall.
The downside of spring seeding? You can’t put down a pre-emergent to fight crabgrass. You’ll also have other weeds to deal with that first season. When summer comes, you can put down fertilizer to get rid of broadleaf weeds. Don’t use a post-emergent crabgrass killer, because your new grass will still be tender.
Hold off on mowing your new lawn until it has grown to about four inches tall. Lawns sown in spring may need additional seeding during the next growing season. But that’s a discussion for fall.
Good luck on having a great looking lawn!