Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Did the Winter Destroy Your Lawn?

Spring has rolled around again, and it’s great to get outside when it’s nice out. However, when you step out onto your front porch to look over your lawn, you are not too pleased. The winter months have won, your lawn lost – as evidenced by the overriding brownish color. Or perhaps there are just a few spots on your lawn that need help. Either way, if you want your brown lawn to glow green once again, here are a few steps to pamper your lawn with a little effort. Reviving your lawn does not have to be an intense process or an incredibly time consuming job, but you will need a few bucks and a few hours, perhaps a Saturday afternoon. And DO NOT wait until summer. Grass seed that gets established before the summer heat hits will be less likely to dry out. The following four steps will bring life and health back into your lawn. 


Your first step is to look closely at your lawn. Do you have a few brown spots that need attention or does your whole lawn need help. If you simply have a few brown spots, try to identify why those spots are brown. Maybe you have a water drainage problem. Or perhaps you have skunks or groundhogs digging around for grub, which means that you need to take care of the grub problem first. Or perhaps you have ruts in your lawn. The depression needs to be filled in an inch higher than ground level to allow for settling. 


Your next step is to look closely to see if the lawn is compacted with more than a half inch of thatch. What is thatch? Thatch is simply dead grass and leaves pressed down among the roots. Thatch blocks water and nutrients from reaching grass roots, weakening the whole plant. Thatching can also trap moisture near the blades of your grass, which can lead to lawn disease. By regularly dethatching the grass buds are forced to grow near the base of the grass stem, freeing up the new grass to grow in healthy and thick. If the thatching is less than half an inch, simply rake it out. If you have heavy thatching, you may need to rent a dethatcher or a power rake. 


Your lawn may need aerated if your soil is too compacted from heavy use. Buy or rent a coring device that will cut three to four inch deep holes in the soil, leaving the cores on the lawn to decompose naturally. The holes created by the aerator provide the grass roots with the ability to receive fertilizer, water, and oxygen. 


Before you jump into reseeding, you must get rid of current weeds. You can either dig them out with a pronged tool, or spot spray them with a broadleaf herbicide. Then give the area a good soaking. To prepare the soil, drag a rake over the bare spots. Then, take a good look at your lawn and determine which kind of grass seed you will need. If you have blue grass, an overseed of any kind of blue grass will do just fine. But do not use the old seed in the garage, it may be dead already. Do not put all your hard work down the drain by using dead seed to try to replant. After you get the seed, sow the seed at twice the rate that is recommended for a new lawn and simply use your hand to lay the seed. Then lay a very thin layer of light organic topsoil so that the seed won’t blow away, approximately an eighth of an inch. Make sure that the topsoil is not laid more than a forth inch thick. 


Your final step is to fertilize. Use a spreader to distribute slow-release granule over the entire lawn. Keep the newly seeded area moist until seeds germinate, at which point you can back off of watering. 
Now you are equipped to transform you’re struggling lawn to a healthy, thriving lawn. Have fun reviving your land.