The best time of year to thicken an established lawn, or to start a new one, is in late August or early September.
The heavy dew in the evening, the cooler temperatures at night, and the regular rainfall of late summer and early autumn all combine to create the perfect conditions for grass seed germination, as well as the ‘putting down of roots’ of freshly laid sod.
Q: How do I control Creeping Charlie, plantain, dandelions, and the like, in my lawn without the use of chemicals?
A: Think of lawn weeds as competitors with your grass. If you give them the space to put down a root in your lawn, they will take the opportunity to thrive and multiply. Compete them out of existence by spreading fresh grass seed over the weed infested area, and cut your lawn six to eight centimetres high.
Q: How useful is it to dig or pull weeds out of my lawn?
A: A good weed puller can be useful, but if you do not over-seed right away you are just postponing a larger problem. The hole left in your lawn is an invitation for the remaining root to re-grow and other weeds to put down a new root. Spread lawn soil and fresh grass seed over the area.
Q: How do I sow grass seed in an established lawn for best results?
A: Spread a two-centimetre (oneinch) layer of triple mix (1/3 top soil, 1/3 peat, 1/3 compost), or lawn soil over the area where the weeds are the thickest. Spread quality grass seed over the area at the rate of 1/2 kilo per 40 square metres (one pound per 400 square feet). I spread the seed by hand, but you may opt for a handheld whirly gig. Make sure that you spread the seed as evenly as possible and incorporate the seed with the triple mix by raking it in lightly, and then by stepping on it with flat-soled shoes to achieve firm contact. Use only the best quality grass seed, as it will dictate the pedigree of your future lawn.
Q: Is this a good time of year to fertilize my lawn?
A: If you have not fertilized your lawn since spring (within the last two months), now is an excellent time of year to do it. However, fertilizer is not a substitute for good quality soil, but a quality brand like Golfgreen Iron Plus, So Green or Green Earth will provide the elements that your lawn craves the most. Look for a lawn fertilizer with slow release nitrogen and chelated iron for the best results. Note: The most important time of year to apply lawn fertilizer is in the late fall, just before, or after, Halloween.
Q: How often should I water my lawn?
A: If we enter a period without substantial rain (over a centimetre) for more than week and with no rain in the forecast, I recommend that you apply water from a quality lawn sprinkler once a week only. Leave your sprinkler on for two to three hours to allow the water to sink deeply into the root zone. A daily sprinkling doesn’t accomplish anything, and encourages shallow roots that are not drought tolerant.
Q: How should I cut my lawn?
A: Cut it high (at least six to seven centimetres) and use a mulching mower. The taller the grass blades, the deeper and more droughttolerant the roots will be. The mulching attachment on your mower returns the natural ingredients that are in the raw grass clippings back to the root zone of your lawn, where they will break down, supply nutrition and provide an insulating layer to protect against the drying effects of the sun.
Mark Cullen is an expert gardener, author and broadcaster. Check out his new book The New Canadian Garden published by Dundurn Press. Follow him on Twitter @MarkCullen4 and on Facebook. Sign up for his free monthly newsletter at MarkCullen.com