Recovering your lawn

With rain and cooler temperatures making an arrival over the last few weeks, many lawns are beginning to make a comeback from this yearâ??s drought.

What can you do to make sure your lawn makes a full recovery? Thatâ??s the topic our Facebook fans voted for in this weeks Facebook Story of The Day.

Good news for many wanting to assure a lush, green lawn next spring. Homeowners have several options to increase their chances of repairing damage done to their lawns by the prolonged 2012 drought. Experts say the most important step in helping your lawn, is knowing exactly what it is.

Before you go out and spend a lot of money on grass seed and renting equipment. Listen to your lawn. Itâ??s likely screaming â??Feed me!â??

You might be tempted to go out and throw a bunch of grass seed down, but believe it or not, you could be doing more harm than good.

If your lawn was in pretty good shape before the drought and itâ??s just gone dormant most if it will come back, if not all of it. Overseeding just means youâ??ll be planting too much grass and thatâ??s not a good thing.

The best thing to do right now is give your lawn some fertilizer and water. Good fertilizer and water is going to bring your lawn back to a healthy state. But choosing the right fertilizer is key.

â??The key types of fertilizer to use now really depend on your application so starter fertilizers are normally a 20 20 20 which is the ratio of nitrogen to phosphorus to potassium for the most part if you are starting out trying to do some reseeding the starter fertilizer is going to be your best bet.,â?? University of Missouri Turfgrass Pathologist Lee Miller said.

The best thing to do is mow your lawn short and expose the new healthy turf below. Youâ??ll want to follow the fertilizer instructions and make sure your lawn gets at least an inch and half of water per week, or hope for some rain.

Now if your lawn has maintained a healthy level through the summer, itâ??s time to airify your lawn, at least certain types.

â??It is important that homeowners know whether they have cool season or warm season turf. If they have cool season turf grasses like Tall Fescue and Kentucky Bluegrass now is the time to airify, fertilize, reseed, and renovate. However, if they have Zoysia grass now is not the time to renovate and now is not the time to airfy,â?? said Miller.

If your lawn has suffered dead spots this summer, you should also airify those spots in preparation for seeding. Once this seedbed has been prepared, it can then be reseeded. Seed is available in a variety of blends of tall fescue cultivars or mixtures of tall fescue and Kentucky Bluegrass that perform well across the Heartland.

However, many lawns are experiencing more dead spots than normal so experts recommend buying your seed as soon as possible.

â??Although at this point I havenâ??t heard of any shortages in turf seed at this point, there should be a very high demand with the severe drought season we just came through so I would suggest homeowners get their seed as soon as possible otherwise they might see prices rise as supply goes down,â?? said Miller.

Buyers should read all seed labels completely to make sure that the seed mixture does not contain weeds or other undesirable turfgrass species.

It is recommended that you get most of the work done by the middle of October so that your lawn can have adequate time to root and grow before the winter season starts.

Now if you have a warm weather grass, you should wait until next spring to reseed as it wonâ??t do much good this fall. Also, now is a good time to spot spray for weeds as your lawn recovers.

Additional Tips for Reseeding:

  • -Mow the lawn closely (1.5 inches or less) just before reseeding, and remove grass clippings. If complete lawn renovation is necessary, spray a nonselective herbicide such as Roundup and then prepare the seedbed.

  • -Apply a starter fertilizer with phosphorus in it just before preparing the seedbed. Starter fertilizers normally contain a fairly balanced nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium ratio (20-20-20 or similar).

  • -Prepare the seedbed by raking heavily with a strong-tined metal rake, or using a vertical slicer, aerifier or shallow tiller (2 inches deep or less). If possible, go over the area two or three times in different directions.

  • -Spread the seed with a rotary or drop seeder. Most labels on seed bags bought in stores will give the proper setting for the type of spreader and seed you are using. For best results, use half the rate and go in two directions.

  • -Rake the area lightly after seeding to help cover the seed with soil. You can place wheat straw on top to protect seed and retain moisture.

  • -Water frequently until established. Most newly seeded lawns need to be lightly watered at least three or four times per week, Miller said. Established turf should be watered more deeply and infrequently.

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