Monday, October 1, 2012

Prepare Your Lawn for Winter

Late August and into October is a great time to give your lawn some extra TLC to set yourself up for a beautiful lawn next spring.  Here in the Northeast, it seems to rain almost every night with midday temperatures in the 60s and 70s - that's perfect grass growing weather.

Aerating is the process of cutting holes in your lawn which allows oxygen and nutrients to flow into the soil and help your grass develop deeper, stronger roots.

I bought a manual aerator at Home Depot for about $20.

My house is on less than 1/4 acre and the lawn is split into a front and back yard.  I would tell you that even with this small of a yard, aerating was a pain to do manually.  I highly suggest renting a gas powered aerator from Home Depot.

If you do choose to go about it the manual way, do yourself a favor and either wait until a heavy rain has come through or give your lawn a good soak.  This'll make the soil a lot softer and save you from a lot of aches and pains.

The process of aerating is to jam the double spiked device into the ground, stomp it in with your foot, then pull out the cores.  You then repeat every four to six inches.  The cores from the prior holes should pop out as you drive the aerator in for the next holes, but in reality, they'll like get jammed up.  I took a long screwdriver and my hose to unclog the aerator.  If you aren't pulling cores, you can end up compacting the soil which doesn't have the same positive effect.

Repair Grass / Plant New Grass
This was a good opportunity for me to take care of three lawn problems I faced.  The first was a lot of brown or dead areas in the back yard from dog urine/waste.  The only real cure is to dig up some of the grass and plant new seed.

The second issue was an unlevel area in the back yard.  When I ripped up the belgian blocks and garden to expand the lawn, I didn't do a good enough job compacting the soil where the blocks had been.  As the new grass grew in, it seemed to sink over time.  This made mowing more difficult and created a great spot to twist your ankle.  I read that one solution is to dig under the turf at an angle and raise it using a mix of dirt and sand.  The other route, which I chose, was to simply add dirt/topsoil and compact it until it was more level.  I then added seed to grow new grass.  In about a week of regular rain and mid-60s temperatures, I can already see the grass growing in well.

The last issue was a bare patch in the front yard where a tree stump once was.  I had paid to have the stump ground down, the hole filled then new soil/grass put in.  The grass came up, but I could see it was very sparse and it never looked as good as the Scotts seed I use.  My guess is that they skimped on the quality.

I decided to make this an entire weekend project by digging up the area, sifting it to remove rocks and weeds, then drop dirt/topsoil and seed.  I found really large chunks of the former stump.  It had been 6 months, so I don't get the feeling these chunks were going to decompose well given their size - again, probably a low quality effort put forth by the workers.
Making a mess

I placed the sifted dirt down and compacted then gave it a watering.  The next day I added seed and topsoil as well as giving it a new watering.

New grass needs a few weeks of healthy growth before you can put down fertilizer.  I bought plenty of Scotts WinterGuard which is also supposed to help grow grass roots for a better spring.
Food for lawn

If I was really gung-ho, I'd aerate again since it has been a few weeks.  In hindsight, I probably should have repaired the lawn then aerated the whole thing once before dropping the WinterGuard.

The lawn is looking better already and I'm hoping for a few more weeks of good weather to set the yard up for a great spring.

No comments:

Post a Comment