As the back to school bells start ringing and the pools close up, we are faced with the reality that the end of summer is near. If you thought that the cooler days, and weaker sunrays meant no more yard work – that’s another unfortunate reality. Fall is actually the best time of year to revisit your landscaping and renovate your lawn.
In Minnesota the best time to seed is late summer (mid-August to mid-September). The cooler air and sunshine create a better temperate climate for your grass to thrive. Soil stays warm through November, so grass seed won’t dry out as quickly and you won’t need to water as often as in the spring. People tend to seed in the spring, however weeds and high temperatures often reduce the chance of success. By taking advantage of the fall weather your lawn is given more time to soak up all the nutrients from the soil. This will allow the lawn to stay healthy enough to protect itself throughout the harsh winter months and shine green, lush, and vibrant in the spring.
When seeding your lawn make sure you have good soil preparation before you spread your seed. Kill off all weeds growing in the area and amend the soil with some good black, sandy soil. Once you have your area graded and soil amended, you can lay your seed. To ensure proper distribution of the seed, check the bag of grass seed and set your spreader at the appropriate setting. After the seed is installed follow up with a light rake or culti-packer over the area for good seed-soil contact.
Watering the new site is extremely important. After seeding, water only as needed. Some drying during the day will not harm the seeds, and may actually enhance germination. For the best germination, be sure the water soaks in with little to no run-off. Stop watering when water puddles begin to appear. When the seed has germinated, begin regular watering while the seedlings are very small. Gradually taper off the watering as the grass grows larger and the temperature (in fall) cools off. Ordinarily, 6–12 weeks are needed for establishment. It takes nearly a full season for the new lawn to be a mature and durable turf able to withstand considerable traffic.
The consumer is limited in the varieties available when sodding a lawn. Most of the sod grown in Minnesota is a mixture of Kentucky bluegrass. Make sure to purchase your sod as fresh as possible and lay it as soon as you can after purchasing it. Sod should be laid within 24 hours.
Lay sod in a slightly moistened soil and make sure to stagger the seams. Be sure that you have a nice edge for new sod to bud up to any existing sod, make sure all seems are tight to one another so there are no gaps. Keep the sod moist but not saturated until it is firmly rooted in the soil, then gradually reduce watering. In two to three months it can be treated as an established lawn.