Fall lawn care Seeding
Mid-August through late September is the ideal time to seed a new lawn or overseed an existing lawn. There is a better success rate at this time of year because of favorable temperatures, adequate moisture, and minimum competition from weeds. Fall is also an ideal time to fertilize your lawn and control weeds.
When purchasing seeds, choose a turf-type tall fescue. Tall fescue is the best adapted grass for Kentucky. Start off by raking dead patches with a metal rake and then sprinkle grass seed in the loosened soil. Make sure that intended planting areas are clear of existing vegetation, including weeds. Good seed to soil contact is very important. Cover the seed with a light layer of straw to help conserve moisture.
If your entire lawn is thin, you might consider overseeding it. You can broadcast seeds on the soil surface by hand or by using a rotary seeder or a drop-type seed and fertilizer spreader. If your lawn has a lot of thatch, you can run a dethatcher, aerifier, or power rake through it before overseeding to insure good seed to soil contact.
Fall and winter (October through December) are also the best times to fertilize most grasses that grow in Kentucky. Nitrogen applied to turf between April and September can promote excessive top growth and thus decrease resistance to drought, disease, and heat. Fall and winter fertilization benefits turfgrass because it promotes root and tiller growth needed for improved health and density. Turf can absorb nitrogen anytime in late fall and early winter that soil temperatures are above 32 degrees F.
Post-emergence broadleaf weed control is suited to fall, too, especially for difficult-to-control weeds such as dandelions, wild garlic, broadleaf plantains, and ground ivy. These weeds are preparing to go into dormancy for the winter. There is a lot of movement of materials within the plant and that’s when herbicides work best to kill the entire plant.
Use 2,4-D for plantain, wild garlic, and dandelions. Use combination products, such as Weed-B-Gon, Turf Kleen, Turflon or Weedone DPC to control chickweed, ground ivy, henbit, white clover, red sorrel, and wild violets. Avoid use of lawn herbicides (weed killers) on newly-seeded lawns, since most will also kill the desirable grass seedlings. When using any lawn or garden chemical, be sure to read, understand, and follow all label instructions for the safest, most effective application of herbicides.
For more information, please contact the Woodford County Cooperative Extension Service at 873-4601.