and Dine Your Lawn
For most lawns, a spring
fertilizing with a high nitrogen (first figure in the ratio) mix
and another one in fall with a "winterizing" formulation
is sufficient, if you've left the clippings to decompose on the
lawn all summer.
a high quality brand that states that the majority of the nitrogen
is "slow release". This prevents burning of the
lawn and fast growth spurts because the nitrogen will be released
slowly over a period of weeks.
To revive an abused lawn or create a real "show piece"
lawn, 4-6 week apart fertilizing will be required. You may
need to apply crab-grass preventer mixes (these suppress all weed
and other seeds from sprouting) in spring. In late spring or
summer, a cinch bug or grub control formulation may be needed, or
a "weed-n-feed" mix.
Dress for Success!
Yes, you may have a
contagious neighbour or inherited a lawn infested with grubs,
cinch bugs, or some other nasty lawn-louse. Now you can't
exactly pick the nits off your lawn, although by all means, if you
spot a Japanese beetle ambling by, do pick him up and evict him
die-hard insect infestations, do go for the beneficial nematode or
bacillus thuringiensis (BT) treatments that provide years of
protection. (See Insect
For minor problems, a granular or dilutable insecticide designed
for the insect causing your lawn to scratch should suffice.
For ants, do as our LilStinker recommends, and apply grits - yes
good old fashioned hominy grits! No ant can eat just one!
Topdressing in spring and again
in fall is another good way to wine and dine your lawn by
providing trace minerals and nutrients not available from regular
fertilizers. It also helps improve the soil quality and its
ability to hold moisture.
A mix of compost, composted manure, and peat moss is highly
recommended. Apply it about 1/4" thick and work it into
the grass with a rake.
The best time to apply this is after you have aerated the lawn,
working in the topdressing together with the cores of soil left
from the aeration.
Your Lawn Some AER
it's time to talk about punching your lawn full of holes.
Aeration is required on any lawn that gets walked on at
least every 3 years. For heavy clay or silt soils, or those
that get a lot of traffic, annual aeration is a must.
For large areas, rent an aeration machine - it works much like a
lawn mower - or hire someone to do this. For small areas,
you can purchase devices that have hollow tines which will remove
narrow cores of soil.
Depending on the size and
severity of the bald patches in your lawn, you can seed or patch
Dig up the area to loosen the soil,
remove some and topdress with good compost, peat moss and/or
composted manure. Add a heaping handful of sand per square
foot if you have heavy soil. Smooth it with a rake and seed
2-3 times as thickly as for overseeding an existing lawn in the
table on previous page. Firm in and water as described
a garden spade, cut through the soil to a depth of about 2 inches
in a square or rectangular shape - make sure one of the dimensions
will work out to fit the width of a length of sod. Remove
the soil and any bits of grass from this area.
Loosen the soil, add the amendments listed above. Remove
more soil if required to ensure the new sod will be level with the
surrounding lawn. Smooth the area.
Lay the sod over the area, and cut it to fit snugly. Press
it into the spot and firm it down by putting a board over it and
standing on the board. Water in well and keep evenly moist
until the patch has established.
Some of the newer
fast-spreading grasses are available by mail order and come in
"plugs" or "sprigs" (sprig is a small plug - a
single tuft of grass). This is like giving your lawn a hair
transplant. Most likely instructions will come with
your order with more details, but here are general instructions:
- Make a planting grid using
stakes and string to mark out rows. Space plug rows 6 to
12 inches apart, depending on the type of grass.
each row, use a trowel or bulb planter to make
sufficiently deep (usually 1 to 2 inches deep) planting holes
6 to 12 inches apart to form a grid.
- For sprigs, use a hoe to make 1-
to 2-inch-deep furrows spaced 10 to 18 inches apart.
- Install the plants - set plugs
into the holes and firm the soil around them.
- With sprigs, lay them 4 to 6
inches apart in the furrows, with the leafy sides up; fill in
the furrows, burying the bottom two-thirds of the plants.
- Water in and keep evenly moist