By: Don Sherbeyn
It’s finally spring!
Nurseries are brimming with new plants, soil temps are steady and warmth and moisture is plentiful. Everything needed to get your lawn growing is right at your fingertips.
I am often asked “what’s the secret to a beautiful yard?” The secret is quality materials, start at the right time of year and know what you’re up against.
The first step is always to get a soil test, you can’t fix it if you don’t know what’s broken. Second, you have to decide if you’re going to be fighting weeds this year or installing new grass. These two cannot usually be done effectively at the same time so don’t go grab two bags of pre emergent weed and feed and a bag of grass seed from Lowes and hope to fix the lawn. Truth is the weed and feed will most probably just kill your new grass seed. Instead let’s concentrate on getting the desirable grass strong and new grass growing. We can battle weeds at all times of year but establishing new lawn is best in spring.
To take a soil test get a large zip lock bag and a claw hammer with about a 3″ claw. Use the claw portion of the hammer to pull plugs of soil from at least 15 different locations or one plug per 1k square feet, then mix soil up and bring it to a place like CFC by Walmart to have it tested. The test results will let you know exactly what your lawn will need. Once you know what your lawn needs you can choose a fertilizer that meets those needs. Choose a slow release fertilizer that matches the required nutrients and spread just before a rain to maximize your investment. The three main ingredients of fertilizer are nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium.
What do these do for your lawn you ask? Well, nitrogen promotes new growth in the blade of the grass and aids in photosynthesis, phosphorus is important for healthy root development and potassium helps your lawn stand strong against drought.
Choosing a quality grass seed is absolutely necessary if you want to have a beautiful lawn. Choose a seed mix designed for our region and your specific needs. We prefer to use blends of fescue. My top choice for grass seed is “Winning Colors.” This is a blend of four top rated fescue seeds with a 0.00 percent weed seed, 0.00 percent other crop seed, 0.46 percent inert matter and a 90 percent germination rate. Winning Colors will grow in shade and sun and handles heat as well as the cold. It is applied at four pounds per 1k square feet for over seeding and 8 pounds per 1k square feet on new lawns. As far as I know we are the only local supplier of Winning Colors. We do also use Southern Lawn, Southern Lawn shade, and Southern Lawn extreme when conditions warrant them. Southern Lawn blends can be found at our nursery and the Co-op down by the train depot. These blends have been blended specifically to work in our regions. Probably not something you’re going to be able to find in the box stores.
If it’s needed be sure you purchase a high quality compost and preferably not an animal or straw compost. Oftentimes animal and straw compost will have live weed seed in the material. I recommend using a leaf compost with a ph around 7, blended with our local soils it creates a fantastic seedbed.
As always if you have any questions about this article or any other landscape related topics you can send me an email and I will try to help.
Donald Sherbeyn is the owner of Sherbeyn’s Landscape. You may reach him at 540-727-8835 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.sherbeyns.com.