This past summer is one for the record books. Record-setting temperatures occurred in many cities and rainfall amounts were minimal. A lot of lawns suffered from the heat and drought that we experienced in 2012. If your lawn looks anything like mine, you’re wondering whether the brown spots will ever fill in again. In most cases, the surrounding grass was fulfilled in many of the bare spots, but there are situations where some major work will have to be done to get the lawn looking good again.
One of the best things you can do for a lawn – outside of fertilizing – is to have your lawn core aerated. Core aeration is done by a machine that goes across the lawn and takes up plugs of soil and thatch and leaves them back on top of the ground. This opens up the lawn to allow for more air, water and nutrients to penetrate into the root zone. Developing stronger roots is a key to lawn recovery. The soil cores are left on top of the ground, and they will melt back into the lawn with normal rainfall or irrigation. If the lawn has a problem with thatch, the microorganisms in the soil will help to break down that thatch layer. It also helps to relieve soil compaction.
If your lawn is comprised of cool season grasses, such as bluegrass, ryegrass, find fescue or tall fescue, the fall is the best time to overseed your lawn . If your lawn has thinned out due to the stresses of summer and you are in a cool season turf area, the best procedure to follow is to court aerate your lawn followed by broadcasting seed across it. The type of seed to use is dictated by what is currently in the lawn.
Different types of grass germinate at different rates. Ryegrass germinates quickly, usually within a week after it has been sown. Bluegrass takes the longest amount of time to germinate – about 3 to 4 weeks after it has been sown. Therefore, timing is critical when overseeding your lawn to ensure that the new seedlings are strong enough to endure any frost or cold temperatures. If you are in the far north part of the country you’re seeding should be completed no later than the end of September. As you move south, you may be able to push this back by a month or so.
Many lawns suffered from the weather extremes we experienced this year. Grass is a fairly hardy plant and can recover from a lot of adversity. You can help this recovery process by aerating and overseeding during the late summer and early fall.