Here are tips for lawn rejuvenationHaving just spent the last two years rejuvenating an old, tired lawn, I’ll share with you three steps that will help you improve your lawn.
By: By Carrie Barre-LiBaire, Extension educator, Alexandria Echo Press
The dog days of summer have passed, so now it’s time to get busy for this last stretch of the gardening season. In addition to dividing perennials and shopping for hardy bulbs, this is the best time of year to get your lawn back in shape. Having just spent the last two years rejuvenating an old, tired lawn, I’ll share with you three steps that will help you improve your lawn.
When we moved into our home our lawn was a tangle of creeping fescue, with some areas that were hydro-seeded with Bluegrass. This must have happened when the shed was put in because you could see the tire tracks through the middle of the backyard from the different shades and textures of the grass. Our entire yard is on a slope, so lack of irrigation had caused small “streams” of bare patches to occur. This happens when there is a lack of water and then when the rain falls it just slides down the hill, washing the dead grass right along with it. We were in need of some real lawn rejuvenation.
The first year we rented a core aerator and went over the lawn again and again. The soil was compacted and we had thatch. Most people think thatch is caused by leaving grass clippings on the lawn, but it’s really a result of the soil not being healthy enough to break down the grass clippings. In a healthy lawn, grass clippings decompose quickly and are beneficial. In an unhealthy lawn, grass clippings just lie there and form a dense mat that compounds the problem.
After core aeration, we top dressed our lawn with good black soil and compost. You can get soil and compost from the big chain stores or your local nursery. Just don’t buy it from some random person who has dirt for sale; you have no idea what you’ll be getting, or what weeds will come with it. We added three inches all over and raked it in well. It’s not fun and your lawn will look awful, but be patient.
The next step is to reseed. Spend some time deciding what type of grass works best for you and be realistic about sun exposure. Buying a sunny mix for a shady yard is just a waste of money. Analyze the seed contents of the mix and buy the one with the highest percentage of the type of grass you want. For instance, there are many cultivars of Bluegrass, so I would pick the mix that lists the most types of Bluegrass versus a Bluegrass, Fescue, Creeping Rye grass mix. I find the best seed mixes for large areas are at the local nurseries, where you can buy in bulk.
We did this process again last year and this year we were rewarded with an almost perfect, soft green lawn. It takes time and patience and a lot of work but it is worth it, especially when I’m walking through the yard in my bare feet!