Turf Renovation for Fescue Lawns, and Other Cool Season Grass Types

There is nothing better than a lush green lawn, and if you live in a part of the country with cool season grass such as blue grass, tall fescue, or fine fescue, you’ll have to renovate the turf each fall to maintain it.

Areas of the country such as New England, the Upper Midwest, upper Southeast, the High Plains, and Northern California up to the Pacific Northwest have grasses that grow best when temperatures are between 65-80 degrees, and they do most of their growing in the spring and fall.

When I ran my lawn-care company, turf renovation time was my favorite time of the year, as this was the service that had most impact for great results for the following year.

Cool season grasses undergo stress each summer as the hot, dry periods of the year weaken the turf, and a percentage of the turf density dies off with each cycle of the seasons. These conditions make it necessary to renovate the turf each fall, typically from early September until mid-October, to ensure a thick lush lawn the following spring.

If you’re having troubles with your lawn, you might find a good lawn professional in your area. It’s a pretty good service to find local landscapers/gardeners.

Here are the steps to follow ensure excellent results when renovating your turf should you decide to do it yourself.

1: Soil Preparation:

The most often overlooked step is the preparation of the ground prior to applying seed. Most commonly, a machine called an “Aerator” is utilized to prepare the soil. This specialty machine can be rented at most rental stores; an aerator punches holes into the soil alleviating soil compaction, breaking up thatch, and opening up the soil to receive the seed and facilitate germination.

Think of it as a farmer cultivating the earth before sowing his crop; without ground prep, your results will be seriously diminished. The better you prepare the soil, the better the results will be. I recommend performing several passes over the lawn; especially in the extremely bare areas, the soil needs to be churned for proper preparing.

2. Proper seed Selection:

Depending on what part of the country, proper consideration needs to be paid to selecting the appropriate seed type for your lawn as well as the sun exposure it receives.

If areas of your lawn do not get much sun, use a shade-tolerant type of seed such as a Creeping Red Fescue, likewise for the areas that receive full sun; you’ll want to use a sun-tolerant variety; Pennington is a popular producer and name brand Tall Fescue which is a great drought-tolerant fescue seed that performs well in full sun.

Kentucky 31 is a similar, more economical brand; however, it contains a higher percentage of weed seeds in its mix and will not perform quite as well as the more expensive name brands such as Pennington and others.

3. Application of seed:

Now that you have performed the hard work of soil preparation and done the homework for proper seed selection, it wouldn’t be prudent to skimp on the amount of seed to sow. A good rule of thumb is to use 5 lbs. of seed per 1,000 sq. ft. or approx. 200 lbs. of seed per acre. So if your lot is a ¼ acre, one 50 lb. bag will cover the lawn sufficiently.

If your lawn is small, you can broadcast the seed by hand; if it’s larger than a ¼ acre, you will need to use a broadcast push spreader to spread the seed evenly. In the areas that are very bare, you will need to apply the seed a little thicker.

4. Post Seeding Watering:

After you aerate and overs-seed, will you need to water the freshly sown seed immediately. This will help work the seed into the soil and create the moist conditions fresh seed will need for proper germination.

Monitor the weather; if you are getting one or two soaking rains per week, this will increase the chances of success; if no rainfall arrives, you will need to use a sprinkler to supplement, or the seed will not germinate nor mature before the impending winter.

A beautiful lawn is hard work. The annual aeration and overs-seeding is a critical step in the process to establishing and maintaining a lush lawn. Invest in his piece of the formula, and you’ll be delighted each spring and summer.

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