Dethatching, Aerating, Seeding
A Guide for Preparing Your Lawn in the Fall for Success in the Spring
Do you have bare or browning patches of grass? Do you find it difficult
to maintain an even coverage of green grassy caret throughout the lawn?
Your grass has weathered the harshest conditions of summer and now
it’s time to reinvigorate the look of your lawn. There are a number of
issues that may be stifling the overall growth of your turf.
First, decide whether the problem is occurring due to a fundamental issue
such as drought, weeds, overuse, or poor management. If that’s the case,
each of these issues are easily remedied by watering more frequently,
using a weed preventer, temporarily roping off an area from use,
or contacting a local professional like CSE Landscapes in the
Hampton Roads area!
If the issue is not so easily discernible there could be an underlying issue
leading to a growth struggle. Over time, the ground becomes compacted
and can compress root systems preventing nutrients, water, and even
oxygen from reaching the plant. All three ingredients are essential
for healthy plant growth.
Let’s look at some techniques for improving the overall growth of your
soon to be luscious lawn!
Thatch is a mixture of living and dead plant matter that collects at the
base of grass. A small amount of thatch is helpful in protecting the grass
from extreme heat and limiting weed growth. Too much thatch will
create a weak grass root system causing vulnerability to stressors.
To test your thatch density, remove a plug of dirt from your lawn.
The spongy area should not exceed 3/4 inch when squeezed.
If you find your thatch is too thick, consider dethatching using proper
equipment which can be rented, or, the more arduous avenue, deep
hand raking using a leaf rake. Careful not to damage existing grass
when using the rake method. Also, make sure to compost the collected
organic matter when finished with the process!
Aerating is the process of opening the surface of your lawn by removing
plugs of dirt and penetrating the upper, thick layer of organic material
covering the surface of your dirt. Too much organic material may block
beneficial nutrients and water from reaching the roots of your grass.
Aerating also promotes microorganism activity which further degrades
the excess organic layer providing more nutrients and strengthening
for disease prevention. Loosening the dirt will build a stronger root
system and allow new growth to flourish. New roots can easily expand
and nutrients and fertilizer have been introduced by stirring up compacted soil.
There are several methods for aerating and usually you can rent equipment
from a local hardware store. The best practice is to use core aeration as
opposed to spiking or slicing. This removes the dirt in clods instead of slicing,
which could further compact your soil. Make sure to water the lawn
24 hours prior to aerating.
Seeding or Overseeding
Overseeding, simply put, is adding grass seed to an existing lawn to
thicken coverage and fill bare spots. This is common practice in the
Hampton Roads area and other similar regions where cool season
and warm season grasses mix. Combining grass seed will allow for
a lush green lawn all year round. Seed selection should,however,
be based on what type of grass already grows in your lawn. Some
grasses grow better with each other.
When overseeding, cut existing grass to lowest height that will not
cause permanent damage. Select a compatible seed variety for your
lawn. Consider amount of sunlight, water, and traffic when choosing
a variety. Seed your lawn after aerating or use a rake to lightly disrupt
the top soil layer before laying down seed. Use a drop spreader to evenly
spread seed across a large area or you can hand spread thin areas.
Lightly rake the area after seeding to improve soil contact. Make sure
to water your seed well during germination but not so much as to
wash the seed away.
Thatching, aerating, and seeding are all activities best conducted
in the Fall. The cool season provides the perfect environment to
promote proper root growth for a thicker, fuller lawn. Following
the best lawn care practices now will ensure a bountiful lawn
come next spring. And, as always, if you need assistance to
grow your best lawn, we’re here to help!
Facebook: CSE Landscape Management
The Lawn Institute