Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The grass IS always greener

This is to be the first post, so it should probably start with one of the most basic plants. Seemingly one of the simplest plants seems to be the most challenging to grow really successfully... Grass, simple old grass. I think there is nothing more beautiful in it's simplicity than a healthy, well cared for lawn.
Many people seem to have this idea that it takes endless hours of work, or a PHD in lawnololgy (not even a real major) to rehab and maintain an healthy lawn. It is really a matter of getting a good start from the beginning, and then just following a routine. Unless your lawn is already in good shape, (which most aren't) I don't recommend fooling around spraying or spreading some ridiculous cocktail of chemicals that claim to kill the weeds, and not harm the grass. It has been my experience that almost all of these work poorly and despite their claims, still stress the grass, besides even if you kill all those weeds, you probably won't have much grass worth saving. The surest route to a great lawn is starting over, the best time to do this is the fall, start the process around August or September with Roundup Concentrate, buy this stuff at your home center and mix it up exactly as directed, no need to mix stronger than recommended (this is not agent orange) Spray on a calm day to avoid getting it on desirable plants, or your neighbor's lawn (bad for relations) and make sure it is above 80 degrees for optimal effect. This should kill your entire lawn, don't worry about putting chemicals in the ground, this stuff only kills plants by shutting down their processes, it becomes inert once it enters the soil. Water the dead ground for 12 days, and then repeat the application once again as some weeds will germinate after the first kill.
Now you are almost ready to start you new lawn, at this point, assess how smooth your land is, if it looks like the Himalayas on a map, now is the time to obtain some fill dirt from a reputable and weed seed free source, and rake it over the hills and valleys, water it in, and repeat if necessary.
Now buy your seed, never buy all that patch-tastic perfect garbage that claims it will grow in a dark oxygen free environment. In fact, I don't recommend you buy from any home or garden center, as they overcharge, and you get a lot of filler and less actual seed. The rule of thumb is to try and go where golf course superintendents or professional landscapers buy. Here in Lincoln, the best seed I have found comes from a place called Miller Seed Co. (1600 Cornhusker Hwy.) It doesn't look like much from the outside but they sell some really fresh and reasonable seed. It will run you about $75 to get enough seed to do a 10,000 sq foot lawn, and depending on your situation and preference there are several choices. My favorite is a Kentucky Blue Grass / Perennial Ryegrass blend, the Ryegrass comes up early and thick, and then the Bluegrass takes over later in the season.
Moisten the soil and old dead thatch in your planting area thoroughly, then using a broadcast or drop spreader, go over the entire area three times, horizontally, vertically, and diagonally. This ensures that the seed gets into all those nooks and crannies. If you don't have underground sprinklers, set up a simple system with hoses, and invest in a $30 hose end watering timer, set it to water for 20 min. at 4 hour intervals for 2 weeks, or until grass starts to germinate, hopefully now you will be into the cooler weeks of late September and early October, this is prime grass growin time. Continue to keep the area moist, but not soaking wet until the first frost. By next may you will have a thick, lush green lawn. Next post will attempt to help you keep it that way!

These photos are pics of the same lawn rehab about one year apart, the first is just following a terrorist attack on my front yard (sewer replacement). The last was taken this June.

1 comment:

  1. Lawn looks great! I'll be picking your brain for tips here soon (just plan on it being annoying:)