Reviving Your Lawn
First, the weeds! They compete with our existing grasses for water and food, all while looking unsightly and spreading like wildfire. Most of them are annuals, so consistent, weekly mowing with the blades set as low as possible is the first line of defense. If you make a point of mowing in opposite directions each week, this will also help prevent thatch.
Maintaining good cultural practices for your lawn grasses is the next best way to keep out weeds. That means building a good soil base through aeration, proper watering, and feeding. Most weeds, with the exception of velvet grass, couch grass, clover and horsetails, can be controlled by simply digging them out as they appear or spot treating them with the environmentally-friendly ‘EcoSense Weed B Gon’.
Overseeding is another great way to help choke out weeds while also adding new growth to your lawn, and now is the best time of the year to do just that. The cooler night temperatures and morning dew of fall help the seeds to germinate and take hold.
Use a mix of seeds that has perennial rye grasses, preferably the new award-winning ‘stoloniferous’ blend called ‘Natural Knit’, at the rate of 5 lbs per 1000 square feet. ‘Natural Knit’ is now more widely available in many garden stores and it is amazingly aggressive against weeds. Even though these grasses are fast germinators (about 7-10 days at this time of year), they still need daily watering until the seed has become rooted. Once they have, though, you will be delighted by the difference these grasses make to the appearance of your lawn.
Many folks are also adding 10-20% micro-clover or white Dutch clover to lawn seed mixes. These will help to enhance the thickness of your lawn and to make it more self-sustaining and beneficial to pollinators.
For long-term success with your lawn, you really must aerate your lawn. This means removing plugs of soil, either by hand or machine, to improve drainage. Those of you with sandy soil are not off the hook here, though. Winter and spring rains beat down on the soil surface, making it hard and subsequently difficult for roots to breathe and penetrate deeper into the soil.
Aeration should be followed with an application of a ¼ inch layer of coarse or washed sand on the lawn area. The sand will work its way into those aeration holes to keep them open, thus improving the drainage.
Finally, the fertilizer. Should you fertilize at this time of the year with fall so near and plants soon going into hibernation? The answer is an absolute yes. Lawn grasses need nitrogen to stay green and grow well. Fall lawn food with stabilized nitrogen will feed and strengthen your lawn so that it’s in terrific shape for next spring. In a nutshell, stabilized nitrogen extends how long the nitrogen will be available in the soil, making it more readily available for plants to draw up. Scott’s Fall Lawn Food 32-0-10 is a great option for your final feed of the year.
The Final Touches
There are a few really fine lawns out there, but most do need some work to get them back into shape for the fall and winter months. Remember that not all steps can be done at once; leave at least a two week interval in between activities, or the time it takes you to mow your lawn three times. This window will allow your lawn to mature enough to make it ready for the next activity.
Once you have done these steps, apply some Dolopril lime (at a rate of 10 kg per 200 square metres) to keep the pH level up over the winter and further discourage moss. Lime can be applied at any point over winter, but it’s ideal to get it down before the heavy rains begin later in fall.
The best deterrents to weeds and moss are a thick, healthy lawn with neutral, well-draining soil. A little effort now will pay big dividends for many years to come, so give your lawn some attention this fall. It will be worth it!