September is jam-packed with garden chores, but top of the list is lawn care. Now is the time to seed or reseed the lawn (fill in patchy spots). And if you're wondering about those September chores, here's the link.
Weed and Feed or Seed?
Decision time. Do you seed the lawn, filling in the bare spots, or do you skip seeding and focus on the weeds? Is a total lawn rejuvenation necessary? Which means killing off everything in the yard--weeds, grass and all--and starting over? September is the best month to seed because in our region of North Carolina (the mountains), lawns perform best with cool season grasses. Planting before October 1 will avoid winter injury for grass, and allow roots to develop in the cooler temperatures they prefer. Here's how to seed.
Test your soil for ph level (we do have sample kits). If the ph is too acidic, liming the lawn is necessary to give it a more neutral alkalinity. Grasses grow best in a neutral soil.
Cool season grasses (fescue mixes) are used in Western North Carolina, and do best if seeded when temperatures are between 60-80°. The cooler nights, fall rains and shorter days are good for germination. (But do not depend on rain, set up the sprinkler and see below.)
Rake up the bare area, add a layer of compost (1/4" deep) and scatter seed, taping down with the back of the rack.
Add another thin layer of compost to keep seed in place.
Keep moist until germination, which means watering twice a day (top 1" of soil should stay moist).
Germination takes 5-21 days.
Don't use herbicides until the new grass has been mowed at least four times.
Watering the Newly Planted Lawn
Water newly planted seed to ensure soil is moist at least 1-2" deep per day, more if temperatures are above normal.
Once grass is 2" tall, watering may be reduced to every other day until you've mown twice.
Do not rely on rainfall.
Weeding And Feeding The Lawn
If you're seeding the lawn now is not the time for any pre-emergent treatment, but fall is a good time to get rid of perennial and annual weeds.
Use a broadleaf herbicide for removing weeds.
PreEmergents prevent the germination of weed seeds and have a slow release fertilizer.
Problem weeds now are plantain, henbit, spurge, knotweed, and more.
Fertilizing the lawn allows grass to fill in and weeds to stay out. The grass can act as the shade, naturally keeping weeds out. Fertilizing in fall helps restore grass recovering from summer stresses and gives grass carbohydrates to store through the winter. Early November is the cut-off date for fertilizing, but rule-of-thumb is when the ground is frozen.
Rake it UP:
Raking leaves can be fun, but it's fun that gets old fast. Once is generally enough to say, "That was fun." Still, to keep grass healthy and thriving, this is a must.
Raking leaves allow for more sunlight and airflow in your lawn, avoiding fungal issues and promoting growth.
Finish up your lawn care by mowing just one more time, dropping the mower blade and cutting it a tiny bit shorter. This helps with reducing common winter diseases and allows grass to dry off quickly.
Written by Cinthia Milner, garden coach and blog writer.
BB Barns Garden Center serves all of Western North Carolina, upstate South Carolina and Tennessee.