Lessons on Lawn Seeding
This past week I have been busy at home re-doing our landscape. We are putting in a new lawn and top dressing and over seeding over some of the older lawn.
This is the best time of year to put in a lawn because of the cooling air temperatures, warm soil temperatures and a higher chance of moisture, which will help grass seed germinate successfully. It needs to be done in the next couple of weeks as you want the seed to germinate and become established before winter sets in.
If you wait too late into the season the grass seed that did not germinate, will still be viable and germinate next spring, but the lawn could be patchy because of the snow melting and water running and pooling into low spots carrying the grass seed with it.
If you are going to put in a new lawn, it is important to put in the extra time preparing the area first before seeding as you don’t want to have to do it twice.
Clear the area of all existing weeds. A herbicide such ‘Round Up’ can be used, as it will kill all existing weeds and not interfere with the germination of grass seed. This time of year many of the weeds growth rates are slowing down or are finished, which is another advantage to fall planting, as there will be less competition for moisture and nutrients. All debris, including decaying tree stumps and large roots that are under the soil should be removed as they will leave shallow dips in the lawn when they decay as well as encourage mushroom growth.
Establish a rough grade by tilling the area 20-25 cm deep and then drag a weighed down board over the area, creating a slight slope away from buildings and walkways. Soil is the foundation to the lawn and so you want to make sure that it is a high quality, well drained soil with a pH of 6.5-7.0 This is the time to make soil amendments, or to add sandy loam and good quality soil to the existing soil, and till it in. After it has been tilled, make the final grade by raking the area, and smoothing the surface of any dips and hills, and removing and lumps. Run a water filled roller over the area to make it smooth and firm. Spread a starter fertilizer such as 14-28-8 over the area and rake it into the top 8 cm of soil and pack the soil one more time.
Seeding is next. Choose a high quality grass seed, specific for our Prince George climate. Ideally it should be a combination of 60% Kentucky Blue grass ( attractive, hardy, easy to care for cool season grass). A percentage of Fescue, (a cool season, low maintenance, drought and shade tolerant grass) and a percentage of Rye grass (a fast growing grass variety that fills in and establishes quickly, preventing weeds. It is not hardy but the other grasses will fill in the spots where the rye grass was growing. ) Use a spreader or broadcaster, for even coverage and go east to west and then crossing the first pattern north to south. After the seed has been sown, softly rake it in, and then go over it one more time with an empty roller to press it down. Moisten the area with water, making sure that the water does not pool or run. Keep the area moist to help with the germination and then later to prevent the new grass from drying out. Stay off the area. Don’t walk on it or let pets go on it as this will hamper the growth of the grass. The grass seed should start to germinate in 10 days, depending on conditions.
When the grass is 6-8 cm tall it can be mowed. The young grass can be easily damaged, so make sure that the blade on the lawn mower is sharp, and that you push the lawnmower slowly and turn softly. For the last cut before winter, raise the lawnmower blade a couple of notches so that the grass is slightly longer for the winter. Fertilize next spring when the grass shows growth, with a good quality lawn fertilizer such as 13-5-7.
Jos Van Hage owns and operates two Art Knapp Home and Garden Centres in Prince George:
- Highway 16 West at Kimball Road
- Highway 97 North at Northwood Pulpmill Road