With this great weather I am all of the sudden reminded of my disastrous ailing front lawn, while my neighbours lawns are greening up nicely, some even have a nice crop of dandelions coming along nicely. Sadly, my lawn is an embarrassment in my neighbourhood, laden with crab grass where there is grass, the rest a barren dusty wasteland. I promised my wife last summer that I would do something about it this year, but truthfully, I don’t know where to begin. This is why I turn to you. I hope you might offer me some advice in reclaiming my front lawn so we have a property to be proud of. Thank you in advance for the help you give everyone who loves to read your column.
Thanks so much for your kind words and your great question. ‘Tis the season to get the lawn primped and preened and proper. Every guy and his dog is out mowing and seeding, fertilizing and aerating. But what if you don’t have a lawn to fertilize? Well, you have two options; you could keep playing Billy the Kid as you watch the tumbleweeds roll by or you could fix it. And when it comes to fixing it, you have two options as well; seed or sod. Either option will require the exact same preparation; A thorough tilling of the soil followed by remediation with topsoil, peat, manure or compost, application of a root starter fertilizer followed by more tilling, raking then rolling. Once the soil is prepared, you can either seed it or install rolled sod to the entire area. With either one, I like to draw a landscaping rake across the soil to leave little furrows. The furrows do a couple of things; if you’re seeding, it traps the seed in the grooves and prevents wind and rain from scattering your seed. It also retains a bit more moisture which is vital to the germination of grass seed. If you’re sodding the furrows create a rougher surface to which the roots of the sod will find purchase as you roll it out.
Once you have your sod down, laid tightly with no gaps in a brick pattern to create a seamless lawn, give the entire lawn a good rolling and put the water to it; Water thoroughly for the first four days, rest for two, and cut as necessary on the seventh. The next week, water thoroughly every second day and cut as necessary on the seventh. The third week, water thoroughly every third day and cut as necessary. After the critical first three weeks, water regularly and cut as necessary. Feed your lawn once in the spring, once in the early summer but not again until the heat of the summer is past, so once again in the fall. Follow these steps and you will have a foolproof, long lasting lawn you can be proud of.
If you’re seeding, cast your seed, water as above and sit back and watch your grass grow. Leave it until its thick and lush before you run the mower over it the first time and never cut it shorter than 2 ½ to 3 inches especially under drought conditions, this will keep it healthy and full and prevent the dreaded crab grass from creeping in and taking over. If you’ve grown your lawn from seed, a generous overseeding every year in the spring will rejuvenate and keep new growth going in the lawn.
Remember when you’re watering; avoid watering in full sun conditions as you lose the majority of the water to evaporation. Water early or water late, but always water thoroughly.
I hope this has been some help to you, Bob. You’ve got your work cut out for you.
All the best, Joe.
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