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Fall Lawn Care

Ten Steps to Successful Overseeding:


Step 1
. Before you begin, make sure the soil is evenly moist. It should be neither too wet nor too dry. If your soil is very dry, water a day or two before seeding to soften it.

Step 2. Use your lawn mower to scalp the existing grass to 1” - 11⁄2” and bag the clippings. This helps get the seed down into the soil.

Step 3. If you have heavy clay soil or your ground is compacted, you may want to aerate and add gypsum. A core aerator pulls out plugs of soil and deposits them on the surface where they break down into a beneficial top dressing. Aerating every few years is good maintenance for cool- season lawns to alleviate natural traffic compaction. This allows better penetration of water, air and fertilizer. To further loosen heavy clay soils, add gypsum to your lawn after core aerating. (Rental core aerators are available at Johnson’s.) If you don’t core aerate, you can still improve your soil before seeding by applying Natural Guard Soil Activator with 100% humates. Soil Activator creates a soil-building process that results in more organic matter in the ground. This increases the nutrient uptake of roots so the fertilizer is absorbed better.

Step 4. Good seed-to-soil contact is crucial in attaining desired results. Small areas can be worked with a rake. For large areas, a vertislicer or comber (rented from Johnson’s Garden Centers) may be used to cut the seed into the soil. To avoid the “row” effect of new grass, overseed in one direction, then “cross-cut”at approximately 45° from the first run using 1/2 the recommended seed rate for each pass. Recommended seeding rates are as follows:
Gard’n-Wise Kansas Premium Fescue
• 3-5 lbs. per 1,000 sq. ft. for overseeding • 6-8 lbs. per 1,000 sq. ft. for new lawns
K-31 Fescue
• 6 lbs. per 1,000 sq. ft. for overseeding • 10 lbs. per 1,000 sq. ft. for new lawns
For a healthy lawn, DO NOT EXCEED the recommended rate. Seed sown too thickly is a breeding ground for disease. A small amount of debris will be left behind after vertislicing. Don’t worry about raking it up unless there are very large clumps. A thin layer of debris will keep the soil moist while the seed is germinating and protect the new seedlings as they grow.

Step 5. Apply ferti•lome New Lawn Starter (9-13-7) with a broadcast spreader at the recommended rate. (You may borrow a spreader from Johnson’s with your lawn fertilizer purchases.) New Lawn Starter is high in phosphorus, which helps your grass seedlings develop strong roots and mature stems before rapid growth begins. If you overseed in the spring, a potential problem is weed competition, especially if you’ve had a lot of weed problems in the past. If so, substitute New Lawn Starter with GreenView Seed Starter Fertilizer and Crabgrass Preventer with Tupersan. Tupersan is the only preemergent weed control that can be used on newly seeded lawns.

Step 6. Moisture is vital to grass seedlings. The seed bed should never dry out, but be kept constantly moist (not soggy). Water 3-4 times a day if necessary depending on weather conditions and soil type. Don’t water to the point that water is puddling or running off. Continue watering this way until the new grass reaches 11⁄2” - 2” then reduce the frequency of watering times but water for longer periods of time.

Step 7. Start mowing when some of the new grass reaches 3” tall. Don’t wait until all the grass reaches 3”. The sooner you start mowing the faster the grass will start to thicken. Don’t mow more than 1/3 of the grass blade at any one time and make sure the mower blade is sharp.

Step 8. If you overseed in the spring, apply ferti•lome South-West Green Maker (18-0-6) 30 days following seeding. This slow-release premium lawn food will provide all the nutrients needed to get your new grass well established before summer. It is specially formulated for alkaline soils ... just like we have here in Kansas. If you overseed in the fall, apply ferti•lome Winterizer (25-0-6) 30 days following seeding and again 30 days later. These two applications will establish a healthy root system; build in winter hardiness; and give you early spring green up.

Step 9. The cultivation necessary to plant grass sometimes brings weed seeds to the surface. To spot treat those weeds, spray with ferti•lome Weed-Out after the new grass has been mowed three times. To spot treat in cooler weather, apply ferti•lome Weed Free Zone.

Step 10. If you overseed in the spring, apply Winterizer in September to encourage maximum growth during the peak growing season for cool-season lawns. Apply Winterizer again in November. This late fall application increases winter hardiness, keeps grass greener longer and promotes earlier spring green up. If you overseed in the fall, apply ferti•lome For All Season Crabgrass and Weed Preventer containing Barricade in January to mid April to feed your lawn while preventing crabgrass and other annual weeds from getting started in your turf.

Fall Lawn Tips

Fall is the best time to feed cool season lawns like fescue, bluegrass an rye. If you only fertilize once this is the time to do it The warm soil of early fall is the ideal condition for the roots to absorb nutrients, while the cooler temperatures encourages maximum growth. ferti-lome Winterizer provides just the right amount of fertilizer with its 25% nitrogen that fescue and the other cool weather loving grasses need. As the weather and soil get colder the Winterizer will be absorbed and stored by the roots. Apply 2 to 3 applications of Winterizer between September and December to have the greenest, heathiest lawn this fall and next spring. If you miss the September feeding remember that any fall feeding is preferable to playing catch-up in the spring.

There are two additional things you can do to get the most benefit from Winterizer. One is to core aerate. A core aerator pulls out cores of soil and deposits them on the lawn. The cores will break up, creating a top dressing on the lawn. This also opens up spaces which allow more water, air and fertilizer to get to the root zone. So if compacted, heavy soil is an issue in the lawn, core aerating can help and Johnsons rents core aerators, just call for a reservation. After aerating, apply Natural Guard Soil Activator at the same time as Winterizer. Activator contains humates, which are the active ingredients of compost. These provide the catalyst to turn grass clipping, soil cores, debris and thatch into "compost" which filters into the lawn, enriching and softening the ground.

Mid October through November is a good time to target broadleaf weeds in all lawns. Small weeds like henbit, dandelions and chickweed which are barely visible now can be eliminated so they won't have a chance to mature next spring. This is an especially good stategy on warm season lawns, like bermuda, which can be injured by weed killer applied at the wrong time in the spring.

ferti-lome Weed Free Zone is our weed killer of choice. It contains a "cocktail" of weed control products that make it very effective in cooler weather. The best method for applying Weed Free Zone is to spray it on. Liquid applications stick to weed leaves better than granules ones and the better coverage you have the better control you get. Weed Free Zone comes in a small ready to use size for spot spraying and also in concentrate and a hose end container for larger areas. Weed Free Zone is safe on all types of grasses and is even effective is the winter during slight warm ups; however newly seeded lawns need to be mowed three times before any weed control product is applied.

Now is also a great time to seed or overseed a cool season lawn.