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Turf grass Tips

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Everyone wants the perfect lawn. Some people just don’t have the basic ingredients to accomplish it.

Some alternatives to establishing a better lawn are to top dress a lawn and not dig it all up. There is nothing wrong with rototilling an area that has very little grass established, but being New England there are going to be rocks brought up to the surface that need to be raked out and hauled away. The goal is to provide a good planting medium for the grass seed and not disturb the underlying area since the amount of work goes up by a factor of at least 10 times.

Top Dressing

Creating a good seed bed for the grass seed is the goal of this effort. The first thing to do is cut the lawn as close as possible so that the dirt that is going to added will not mat down any grass that is not mowed short. Then, if the mower does not pick up most of the clippings, rake up the dead clumps of grass that have been left behind. This also lets the dirt sift down around the short stems of grass. Grass seed needs about an eighth of an inch to a quarter of an inch of soil to germinate.

Spread screened topsoil evenly arosss the areas to be planted. One of two ways works for us. The first way is to bring a wheelbarrow with soil in it and take a shovel and cast the soil across the area to great a thin layer of new clean rich soil. With practice, this can create a thin layer of soil and stretch the material a long way. The second way is to dump small piles of soil and rake the piles out over the grass to be reseeded. You have now created a medium in which to germinate the grass seed and fill in the lawn so it will look good.

Next, when the soil is all leveled out, you are ready to plant the seed. Spread the grass seed evenly across the area to be planted. If lime or fertilizer is needed, add it by spreader at this time. Next, take a lawn rake, turn it upside down and lightly mix the seed and fertilizer into the soil. The goal is to even out the grass seed and cover it with a very light coating of dirt. Using sreaned topsoil makes this easier since not a lot of rock or stones need to be removed. The key to good germination is good soil/seed contact. This keeps the germinating seed wet so it will fill in quickly before the weeds get too far ahead. If a roller is available. lightly roll the area so there is the good seed contact with the soil.

Water well

Succesful germination is a snap with frequent light watering. If you keep the top layer of soil wet, the seed will come up fast and full. It does not need to be a drenching watering; just the top layer of soil where the seed is should be kept moist. So, with a five- to 10-minute watering twice a day with the temperature above 70 degrees, the grass will germinate in three to four days. We find the inexpensive timers work well to just wet an area, then the sprinkler turns off. Move the sprinkler to another area and let it run for five more minutes. You do not want to drench the area or have run-off since it may wash away the grass seed and cause bare spots. The more consistently you keep the surface wet, the more consistent the grass growth will be and the faster it will fill in.

Mowing

First cutting should be when you will take off a third of the blade of grass or less. Also make sure that the blade is just sharpened so that it will cut the grass easily and not tend to shatter the blades of new grass or pull them out of the soil. If you stop and look closely at the cut grass, the cut should be even across the blade, not jagged or torn. After two movings and the grass is established, go back to regular watering based on rainfall. With enough water, you can grow grass on a rock or the body of a Jeep.  If you have a problem with getting the grass going, the problem is most often not enough water. So, enjoy your better-looking lawn and mowing. As it fills in, you can combat the weeds with weedkillers that are selective and keep weeds from competing with the turf.  Your lawn will look great.

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