The first thing you must do is determine the type of grass you have, or would like to have, in your lawn. The two basic types are cool-season and warm-season grasses. Cool-season grasses include many different varieties of fescue. These grasses are the most common types in our area. But, there are some homeowners and businesses that have warm-season grasses, such as bermuda or zoysia. Cool-season grasses stay green year-round while warm-season grasses go dormant and turn brown throughout the winter months.
Determining your type of grass is very important since cool-season grasses are ideally planted in the fall, while warm-season grasses are best established in the spring and early summer months. Today, we will assume you have a cool-season grass. They usually do their best if planted between Sept. 15 and Oct. 15.
The first step is to have a soil test run to determine the nutrient levels in the soil and decide how much fertilizer and lime is needed. In the absence of a soil test, the general recommendation is 9 pounds per 1,000 square feet of a complete fertilizer, like 10-10-10. We can send soil samples to the University of Georgia Soil Testing Lab to have them tested. The cost for a soil test is $8 and the results are usually back in about a week.
Next, you will need to think about weed control. Most weed-killers require a waiting period after they are used before you can reseed the area. You should carefully read the products label or call the Extension office to decide what will work best for you.
The next step is to aerify or aerate the soil. This is actually just loosening up the soil so that air and water can move through the soil to create a good environment for the plants roots. The best way to do this is by using a slicing or coring-type aerator. This is one piece of equipment that if you do not have, you may want to check into renting it for a day.
Once you have aerated the soil, you are ready to apply the fertilizer and then the seed. When seeding fescue, it is recommended to use about 5 pounds of seed per 1,000 square feet of lawn. Using more seed than this will result in overcrowded conditions and weaker plants. After seeding has been completed, we will count on Mother Nature to provided the needed moisture to get the grass up and started.
The last thing to keep in mind is to cut or mow the grass at the correct height. Fescue should be cut at 2-3 inches in height. If it is cut higher, it will have a tendency to fall over, but if it is mowed too short it can also be damaged, especially during the hot summer months.
Today, we have just addressed renovating or trying to get a thicker stand of grass. If you have a very poor stand of grass, you may want to consider totally plowing up your existing lawn and establishing a new one. Of course, this would require more work and expense, but depending on the situation it might be the best option.
For more details on renovating or establishing a new lawn, call the Walker County Extension Office at (706) 638-2548.
Norman Edwards is coordinator of Walker County Extension Service.
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