THERE IS nothing quite so unsightly in the realm of home lawn care than a yard that has been worn down over the years. If your lawn is full of brown patches, weeds and other eyesores, it might be time to consider reseeding.
August or September is usually the ideal time to reseed your lawn. During this time of year, the air is relatively cool while the ground maintains its warmth. Also, leaves falling off of the trees can ensure plenty of available sunlight for your lawn, and the diseases that usually attack plant seedlings are less active than other times of year. Next to autumn, mid-spring is also a good time to begin the process.
The first thing you will want to do is remove the thatch from your lawn. Thatch is a buildup of grass clippings, dead weeds and other plant debris that would otherwise make it difficult for the seedlings to take root in the soil. A good heavy-duty rake should suffice for removing the thatch. However, if you have a big yard, you might want to look into a de-thatching attachment for your riding mower to make the process faster and easier.
"We have de-thatching equipment that we can get through Landpride, Woods and after-market brands," said Roger Morrison, who manages Lashley Tractor Sales in St. Clarsville.
Once, the thatch is removed, the bare spots in your yard will be much more noticeable. You might also want to consider using an herbicide on these spots before you begin reseeding (especially if you are doing it in the spring) to ensure that your new seedlings will not have to compete with weeds.
Choosing what type of grass you want to plant is a crucial step in this process, as low-quality bargain seed can often contain many weeds as well, making your efforts rather futile. Some things to consider when choosing your seed include how much sunlight and water will be available to the area and how much foot-traffic the lawn will be expected to endure.
Once you have chosen your seed, you will also want to pick up some lawn fertilizer to help the germination process get off to a smooth start. It is generally a good idea to apply the fertilizer to your lawn before you apply the seed, instead of mixing the two together. If you require more time, you can always freeze the grass seed until you are ready to begin.
When you are ready to seed, use a cultivator to loosen up the uppermost part of the soil. Roto-tilling your lawn can cause weed seeds to germinate, so it is not usually a good idea to go deeper than one inch. When this is done, spread the fertilizer on and rake it into the soil, trying to keep an even spread.
When you are ready to spread the seed, you will probably want to use a broadcast spreader or a shoulder seeder. Using some equipment to help you with spreading the seed is always a good idea, as it spreads the seed much more evenly. Only about six seedlings will be able to take root in a one-square-inch area of land. Thus, spreading the seed too thickly is wasteful.
You will want to keep the soil a little damp for two to three weeks until your seedlings are about two inches tall, which means watering with a light mist a couple times per day. You can also add hay or straw in the newly seeded areas if you wish. This will protect the seeds from harsh, direct sunlight and from birds, which are known to eat the grass seeds before they can begin to take root.
Morrison explained that you can also use mulch in place of hay. "Mulch serves the same principle, but it also helps to keep a little bit more moisture in," he said. "You're going to have to let it get a good root system on it (before you cut it)."
When the new grass gets about three inches tall, it will be time for its first mowing. Cutting the grass often will assist with the maturation of the new grass and will leave your lawn looking green, vibrant and full.
Scott can be reached at email@example.com.