Northeast Lawn Late Summer & Winterizing
Hard to imagine with the heat that we are experiencing right now, but I have a new old house and I want to start planning some end of summer/winterization of my lawn.
Here are the specs:
1. Long Island, NY (5 miles from ocean) - sandy soil, good drainage
2. .6 acre lot / with grass on about 50%, the balance being under a lot of trees and is pretty mossy or just bare in need of mulch or some sort of ground cover.
3. Programmable sprinkler system on grass areas.
4. Grass area has lots of dead/brown spots (sprinkler hasnít run all summer until this past weekend!)
5. Grass areas that are green have lots of assorted weeds
6. About 100 trees of 6Ē diameter or more, mostly oak
From what Iíve read itís a tough job trying to get new grass established at this time of year so Iím resigned to wait until things cool off in September and try to get a good start for next year. (Unless someone can tell me differently) I want to be ready for when the weather is right and I really need some direction on type of seed, fertilizer, watering schedule, soil treatment and anything else I never learned or forgot in the last 30 years of living in an apartment.
Let me know if you need more info, pictures, etc., and I appreciate your help!
Check out the Scotts web site, there's lots of info on lawn care there.
RHulsmeyer - you don't need Scotts, but they'll work if you want to blow the money on them and dump chemicals in your yard.
This website keeps it simple and chemical free - I like it and it works:
Basically make sure the soil is good, supplement with compost if needed. Mow high to help the grass compete with weeds.
Your sense of timing is good. In August or September (after the summer heat fades, before the fall rains), rake out the yard, clear big patches of weeds, topdress poor areas with compost, and overseed with a good local sun/shade mix. I like Hart brand seeds, you might find them in hardware stores. Keep things watered, hopefully the fall rains will help.
Next year, repeat the above steps. Do that and you will have a good lawn in a year or two.
Check to see if you have grubs. An application of milky spore in August will help keep the grubs (larvae of japanese beetles) in check.
Also keep in mind that your lawn turning brown in this heat is A-OK. It is going dormant to stay alive in drought conditions. It isn't dead. It will likely pop back in the fall when it gets some rain. If you just have to have a green lawn all year then you have to pay to water. I let it go dormant and let Nature take care of the watering, except when trying to establish seed. Then it is important to keep the soil moist.
Definitely check for insects, eggs and fungus and remedy that now. A soil test would be a good investment and not that expensive. It will let you know what you need to add to bring the soil in balance. You can select your groundcovers now too even if you do not buy them until Fall or Spring.
I am not wild about misuse of chemicals either but think herbicides and pesticides have their place at least in gaining control and with absolute attention to mixing and applying them properly.
It is rather late but you could apply a broadleaf weed killer with 2-4-D now. Weed B Gone is a hose end sprayer product that has been around and works well.
As suggested, feeding and mowing tall to squeeze out weeds is your best long term approach. You do pay a lot for the pretty picture, packaging and advertising of Scotts products. The system is more or less foolproof though.
Your fall feeding should get you through until Spring. You don't want to add too much nitrogen during summer months if it is dry where you are and you cannot compensate with the equivalent of 1" irrigation per 1,000 feet per week. Never water later in the day than the turf can dry before dark or you just encourage bugs and fungi.
The challenge with grass seed this time of year is keeping it moist through the varied germination periods. A typical quality turf mix will probably have perennial rye, bluegrass and fescue seed. The perennial rye will germinate in 7-10 days but the bluegrass and fescue will take 20 or more under ideal conditions.
Sounds like if you get some cool breezes and have energy to spare you could start thinning out and/or transplanting some of those oak sapplings.
Thanks all for the help!
That website http://www.richsoil.com/lawn-care.jsp has some crazy but interesting stuff and you should all check it out.
Can anyone help me with a recomendation on a resource for getting the soil tested?
Also I just spent the weekend cleaning up with my new Black & Decker GH1000 trimmer and it went hard and strong for about 3 hours straight without a hiccup so I give it a strong recomendation. A Consumers Report choice and worth the $70 at HD!
A local agricultural extension office can probably do it for you for a few dollars (some will do it for free). They can also provide you with a lot of information about ways to control weeds and pests and how to care for your lawn in general.
There are test kits you can get in the box store, but they are finicky and pricey.
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