Friday, September 4, 2009

August - Last Feeding For Established Lawns

By Thomas Fryd

There are two types of lawns to consider at this time of the year - the old lawn that has been established for some time, and the new lawn that is being developed. Consider the latter... many new home owners are faced with establishing a lawn after moving into a new home during the summer months. It is entirely possible to establish a lawn that will survive the winter if there are as many as six weeks of growing weather left in the late summer.

Prepare the soil well either by spading or digging with a rototiller to a depth of at least six inches. Next level the area by raking, and prepare a fine seed bed. Broadcast the grass seeds either by hand or with a mechanical seeder and increase the recommended amount by one-third. The amount will vary with the kind of seeds, but from two to five pounds per 1,000 square feet is needed to insure quick results.

A light rolling and watering will insure germination of the small grass seeds. Frequent and thorough watering is necessary for the germinating and developing seedlings. As soon as the seedlings begin to send out their runners and mat, a very light feeding may be used, provided there is still as much as four weeks left before frost is expected. It is not recommended to add any plant food to the soil during preparation of the seed bed as there is the danger of overstimulating vegetative growth and the plants might be cold tender.

Mowing should begin as soon as the grass is three to four inches tall. This procedure will normally give coverage in six weeks' time. The period from August 15 to October 1 is recommended as one of the best times of the year to seed new lawns. There are many logical reasons for this.

For old, established lawns, the last feeding should be made during the first week of August. This feeding should be relatively light about 2 pounds per 1,000 square feet of area. Throughout most of the South, this has been a unique lawn year in that the early summer brought unusually heavy rains, rains of water-logging capabilities. This caused lush and coarse growth of many grasses. It also has caused the development of a shallow root system, so you must be on the lookout for signs of wilting and burning in the lawns. Thorough watering will check this condition and keep the lawn growing.

For lawn enthusiast who want a green lawn through the winter, lomandra breeze grass, try bent-grasses or bluegrasses as a permanent lawn grass. These require a great deal more care than Bermuda lawns, but are good in shade and are evergreen. They do suffer in periods of hot weather, though. A good way to get green lawns during the winter is to sow annual rye in the permanent lawn grass during August at the rate of about two or three pounds per 1,000 square feet. Water well, and at about the time of the first killing frost the seedlings will be of a size to transition into winter as a green carpet.

Proper mowing and watering practices must be maintained to keep the lawn well groomed. With the return of good growing conditions in the spring, the permanent grasses will crowd out the short-lived rye grass. This green lawn will add sparkle to an otherwise drab winter landscape.

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