If you need to plant an entire new lawn, mid-September is prime grass seeding time in our region of Connecticut. But if you'd like a green yard all summer, you can touch up the bare spots in April.
If you're not sure where to start, here's my advice for a spring cleanup routine that includes grass seeding:
1. Dethatch. Get a rake and rustle up all that dead grass. Even gathering the stray sticks will help your new grass come in quicker. Debris on the lawn can prevent roots from coming in, not to mention what it can do to your mower blades. The winter winds planted plenty of twigs in the earth and left you with some dead grass. So rake it all up.
2. Seed. Dethatching and seeding go hand-in-hand. Touch up any bare spots with soil and grass seed now to take advantage of May Showers. It's worthwhile to get a soil test to determine what kind of fertilizer will work best on your property. Download instructions for submitting a sample to the University of Connecticut Soil Nutrient Analysis Laboratory here. While it's still cool at night, but sunny during the day, you have good conditions for getting your grass growing. If you're starting a lawn from scratch, there's good advice here from the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.
3. Weed. If you had crabgrass last year, now is also the time to take preventive measures to keep it from coming in this year. Wait for the grass seeds to establish before your first weed-killer application. Two weeks should do it, assuming we get just the right mix of sun and rain to let the grass take root. There are lots of options here, including non-chemical alternatives preferred by anyone with kids or pets. The ASPCA has some recommendations, as does the University of Connecticut. What you're looking for is a pre-emergent weed killer with iron in it.
A few more tips:
- If you want to see those Nikko Blue hydrangeas at their best in June, be sure to cut last year's blooms off them now. Trim the dead growth off your perennials too—the peonies, irises, lilies, Montauk daisies, and coreopsis will pay you back as soon as May or June. But trim back the sedum now too for a prettier fall flower.
- The thatch you gather from your lawn is good fodder for your garden compost. Pile your dead grass up somewhere out of sight and let it decompose. If you turn your compost soil often it breaks down quicker, but it will still be the 2013 or 2014 gardening season before it's ready for topsoil in your planting pots or flower beds.
- For rakes, seeds, and fertilizers, consider supporting your local independent nursery, garden center, or hardware store. You can get more good lawncare advice from them!
And, as always, if you need help or don't have time to do it yourself, Jeff Foster Landscapes is at your service. Give us a call!