Fall is the best time to start a new lawn from seed or to lay sod. It is the best time to over-seed established lawns to fill in bare patches and thicken your grass.
In most parts of Canada, the best grass seed sowing occurs from mid-August through late September. The evening temperatures are lower and the morning dew is heavier. As nighttime temperatures moderate, they are optimum for seed germination.
Preparation is the key to success. Rake the area lightly to remove debris. Add a 1 cm to 2 cm layer of Mark’s Choice lawn soil to level out low patches in the lawn and choose the best quality seed for the best result. The grass seed you use is the future pedigree of your lawn. Rake the seed to smooth it and integrate it into the layer of triple mix. Step on the area with flat-soled shoes to get the seed and soil in firm contact or, for large areas, roll with a lawn roller that is one-third full of water. Fertilize with lawn starter to encourage rapid root growth. This will help new grass get established more quickly.
Water the seeded areas and keep the soil damp until the grass is at least 3 cm high. A thick healthy lawn is your best defence against weeds. Feed the lawn with CIL Iron Plus for a deep green colour and healthy growth.
You can cut a lot of corners by using the new CIL Iron Plus 4 in 1. It contains a top quality grass seed, premium grade chelated iron, a charge of nitrogen and pelletized compost, to provide a medium for the new grass seed to germinate into. This is the best time of year to apply CIL Iron Plus. We are frequently asked how to control lawn weeds in the absence of chemical weed killers. The answer is simple – over seed your lawn to thicken it and compete weeds out of existence. AND be sure to raise your lawn mower up to 2½ or 3 inches (7 to 9 cm).
Note that a new broadleaf weed killer was introduced last spring that is environmentally responsible. Look for Weed Out ready to use in pump spray bottle for spot weeding or the new concentrate by the same name. The principle compound found in this product is derived from the broad bean and the common pea plant. Try it on dandelions and you will be impressed how it kills the root and all in a week or two.
Often grubs become active near the surface of the soil in late summer and early fall. Grubs feed on grass roots, causing the lawn to die. Patches of dead grass will lift up easily if pulled by hand. Skunks, raccoons and moles will also dig in the lawn to feed on grubs. The fall is the best time to control grub populations. Larvae hatch in the fall and can be killed quickly due to their small size. We recommend using beneficial Green Earth nematodes to control the grub population. These are microscopic larvae that infest the grey and white grubs in the soil. Be sure to water thoroughly after application.
Applying beneficial nematodes in the fall is a proactive approach to controlling lawn damage next spring. A healthy lawn will often hide the symptoms of grub damage. A thick lawn which is watered (once a week at most) and fed properly will grow new roots quickly. This helps mask grub damage and keep brown patches to a minimum.
Taking the time to care for your lawn this time of year pays big dividends come spring and beyond!
Mark Cullen is an expert gardener, author, broadcaster, tree advocate and Member of the Order of Canada. His son Ben is a fourth-generation urban gardener and graduate of University of Guelph and Dalhousie University in Halifax. Follow them at markcullen.com, @markcullengardening, on Facebook and bi-weekly on Global TV’s National Morning Show.