The key to repairing your lawn from the drought and heat of the 2016 summer is to fertilize and over
The hot dry days of summer 2016 have taken their toll on everything from crops to vegetable gardens, to our lawns, so now is the perfect time to repair the damages from summer and prepare your lawn for winter. Yes now!
The actions you take in late August and early autumn will pay huge dividends next spring and into summer 2017.
Here is some great advice including tips on what to do now so that your lawn will repair itself and thrive into the next growing season.
Fertilize now for best results in spring
Fertilize turf now with a slow release high nitrogen fertilizer. This is especially true this year because of the extensive damage caused by excessive heat and lack of rain. Fertilizing now will do wonders to help heal damaged lawns.
Damaged areas in turf will recover more quickly with two applications of fertilizer in the fall. The first application should be made in early fall (from mid-August to mid-September). This will help turf recover from damage that occurred during the growing season. Nitrogen and potash stimulate turf growth and repair, and harden off the turf for winter. Fertilizer should be applied at a rate to deliver 0.5 kg of nitrogen per 100 m2.
You may also choose to apply winterizer fertilizer around late October or early November, or a few weeks before ground freezing. Such as 19-19-19.
Overseed lawns that have extensive turf damage or loss
The objective in fall is to thicken the lawn for next spring, and a fall overseeding of grass seed will do exactly that. It doesn’t matter how good or bad your lawn is, if you apply grass seed the end of August to mid September, the lawn will thicken up and a thick lawn prevents weeds from germinating in the spring.
Some damage is too extensive to be fixed with just an application of fertilizer alone which is why overseeding is very important. For those areas, uniformly distribute the desired seed mixture in two directions, making sure the seed is in contact with the soil. Seed-to-soil contact can be enhanced by core aerating before spreading seed. The recommended species for overseeding are perennial ryegrass (general recommendation), fine fescue (for shade or low maintenance) and tall fescue (for drought tolerance). The seeding rates are as follows:
Apply a kilogram (two pounds) of grass seed for every 9.3 square metres (1,000 square feet) of lawn. This can be applied over existing grass and watered in well so the seed comes in contact with the soil between the grass blades. Remember that grass seed needs light to germinate so don’t bury it below a heavy layer of soil. If you need to add soil to an area, put the soil down first and then the seed on top and lightly work the seeds into the soil.
Water the seeded areas frequently to ensure good germination.
Mowing lawn short at the end of the season
You also should consider a final lawn cut sometimes as late as early November. Cutting the lawn fairly short this late in the year helps eliminate vole damage and snow mould in the spring. Voles tend to move toward areas with higher grass so a final lawn mowing just before freeze-up removes some of their protective covering. While grass left too long at the end of the season also encourages snow mould which will kill your grass in the spring. You should also move any excessive vegetation such as brush piles or lawn clipping piles to eliminate spots voles can hide. With this late cut it also helps to remove or at least break up the last of the leaves. Your lawn will be in better shape in the spring if it’s not smothered by a layer of wet compacted leaves.
Below are some links from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca) website that contain some great advice on caring for and maintaining your lawn: