Early fall is lawn care time | TheFencePost.com

Early fall is lawn care time

Richard Snell
Barton County Extension Agent

September is the primary month of the year to do lawn care on cool season grasses. By cool season, I mean fescue, bluegrass and the occasional rye grass.

It’s time to over-seed or plant a new lawn. It’s also time to fertilize and apply weed control.

We used to talk about different varieties of grass like we do with wheat, but these days, most of the lawn grass suppliers have what they call Kansas Premium blend which is a blend of several of the top varieties in the K-State tests.

Tall fescue lawns that have become thin over the summer can be thickened up by over-seeding during September. Start by mowing the grass short (1 to 1.5 inches) and removing the clippings. This will make it easier to achieve good seed-soil contact and increase the amount of light that will reach the young seedlings. Good seed-soil contact is vital if the over-seeding is to be successful.

Excess thatch can prevent seed from reaching the soil and germinating. Normally we want 1/4 inch of thatch or less when over-seeding. If the thatch layer is 3/4 inch or more, it is usually easiest to use a sod cutter to remove it. A power rake can be used to reduce a thatch layer that is less than 3/4 inch but more than a quarter inch.

Once thatch is under control, the soil should be prepared for the seed. This can be done in various ways. A verticut machine has solid vertical blades that can be set to cut furrows in the soil. It is best to go two different directions with the machine. A slit seeder is a verticut machine with a seed hopper added so the soil prep and seeding operation are combined.