Typically homes are bought and sold with information such as the square footage of your house and a total lot size. However that doesn’t give us great lawn care information. We as homeowners and yard maintainers really need to know the grassy area eliminating the house, driveway, shed, and other non-grassy areas.
The great part about technology is we can now do that measurement from ANYWHERE! Lawn Serv built a tool leveraging aerial photography built off of the Google Maps database that you can use for free here — http://www.myyardsize.com/ . Below is a video on how it works.
It is very simple:
Put in your address
Plot points around the item you want to measure (cutting out your house, driveway, shed, etc).
Read the number in the top left
Measuring Tape – section off areas, do a length by width calculation, add them all together
Hopefully you’ve already Dethatched, Aerated, and Over-seeded (D.A.O.) after Labor Day and before the temperatures really drop in the cool season grass zones up north. If you’re in a transition zone (middle of country) and have fescues, rye, or kentucky blue grass and the temperatures are starting to drop, it is a great time to get out in the yard and start!
Here is a list of post D.A.O. fall fun:
Fertilize: the grass is going to benefit from ideal growing conditions and plant (especially the root) preparation before the winter. This is going to really help the grass bounce back in the spring. A fertilizer with all three N-P-K numbers is great but Nitrogen (N) and Potassium (K) are a must and generally available in many fertilizers without restrictions. The Phosphorus (P) is a great addition to newly seeded lawns but can be restricted around water and you may need to complete a soil test to use a product with P.
Water: water the lawn to help drive the roots down into the soil. Soak soil around trees and shrubs if rainfall has been light to ensure that plants enter winter fully hydrated.
Before winter fully hits and after your last mow (sad face!)….empty hoses, fountains, and sprinkler systems – ensure any standing water is removed from your watering equipment and store items in a dry place.
Remove the leaves: while the leaves may look nice and be fun to play in for the kids, they aren’t great for grass. They block the sunlight and trap moisture. So when the leaves are falling, blow or rake them away as often as you can. Even after the trees are empty, continue raking out the corners where the wind piles leaves up.
Clean out the gutters: leaves can build up if you don’t have guards and block drains leading to damaging ice buildup.
Protect Evergreens: Your boxwood, holly, rhododendrons, or similar often suffer in winter because their leaves lose moisture on sunny and windy days without replacing it from the soil when the ground is frozen. Surround these plants with a shelter of burlap or old sheets. The idea is to create shade and slow harsh wind, both of which help to retain moisture so the plant doesn’t dry out and die.
Provide additional protection by using an anti-transpirant spray on the plant after the first hard frost. The spray will dry into a thin film that reduces the moisture lost by transpiration.
Keep Mowing: keep going every week or so until grass has stopped growing. Feel free to mulch or bag leaves also to save time! You might have to switch to afternoon mows with damp grass in the early morning.
Clean tools and store them: Don’t throw your gardening tools in the garage or shed and forget about them until next year! Go that extra mile to clean and add a light coat of oil to mechanical equipment to prevent rust over the winter.
EXTRA FUN: Plant Bulbs: the fall is a great
time to plant crocus, daffodils, hyacinths, tulips, and other spring-flowering
bulbs. Try a few, see how it works and add more the next year.
BACKGROUND: Overseeding is the action of adding grass seed to an existing lawn. This may be considered by people for spots where bare areas show, or even better over the whole yard! Overseeding is a great way to improve the density of grass that has become thin while introducing new innovative grass that is likely more resistant to disease, drought, and bugs.
THE RULE (KIND OF): if 50% or more of you lawn is in good condition, overseeding can be a positive effort worth trying. If more than 50 percent of the area is in poor condition (weeds, dog spots, etc), you will want to consider a new lawn from sod or seed (bigger project).
NOTE: Pick seed that is appropriate for your lawn type and area. You probably want to make sure you are buying perennial not annual grass so that it comes back the next year. It will say right on the label of the bag.
MOW LOW: We don’t typically advise this…. but because you are trying to grow grass from seed take into consideration that the seed will be competing with that existing (taller) grass and its nutrients (sunlight, water, fertilizer, etc). To give the seed a better chance MOW LOW in gradual steps. Normally, you should cut grass to a height of 3 to 3.5 inches. In this case, reduce that height to 1.5 to 2 inches. Also, bag or rake up the clippings in preparation for overseeding lawns, even if normally you do not. You want to give seeds the best chance of making good contact with the soil, and clippings would just get in the way.
RAKE TO LOOSEN SOIL: You will need good seed-to-soil contact for the new seed to germinate. Prepare areas by raking. Use a light touch, so you break up the soil surface without raking out the existing grass.
RAKE TO HELP SEED SOIL CONTACT: We recommend applying seed with a spreader to get more even coverage. Use the recommended rate for your selected seed when overseeding. Rake the area again lightly with an upside down rake after you overseed to improve the seed-to-soil contact.
APPLY STARTER FERTILIZER: apply a starter fertilizer for improved and faster results. We think going half application rate 2 weeks apart is a real pro move if you have the time.
WATER, WATER: The grass seed must be wet in order to germinate. The soil should be kept evenly moist, which may mean several water applications per day for a few weeks. Try not to over do the watering leading to flooding the area and making the seed move.
After the grass blades sprout, you’ll still need to water a couple of times per day and try to take it easy on the lawn for the first couple mows. Definitely don’t go heavy traffic, it will die. Keep up with your regular fertilizer applications and enjoy!
The best time for overseeding lawns that have cool-season grasses is in September in northern climates. You are looking for that not too hot, not going to frost too soon time frame.
Over time everyone needs to patch a lawn. That could be from weed seeds spreading and overtaking, or from a lawn disease taking over. The video here shows how you can take what might seem like an overwhelming task down to some basic steps that can be knocked out in a day.
Here at Lawn Serv, we get a lot of questions about overseeding–what is it? When is the best time to do it? How does this change my strategy for applying nutrients, weed products, etc. throughout the season? Well, the answer is … it depends! But, the good news is that overseeding is one of the best things you can do for your lawn to help improve the density of grass, fix bare spots, crowd out weeds, and keep your lawn healthy. Read on to find out more!
What is “Overseeding”?
Overseeding is pretty simple. It’s the process of laying down new grass seed to (mostly) already seeded areas of lawn. Overseeding is ideal for thin lawns; if your lawn is mostly bare in spots, but generally in good shape, you may want to consider a seeding program that is more focused on those spots.
When should I overseed my lawn?
Fall is generally the best time to introduce new seed to your lawn, particularly in cool grass areas (think roughly the top half of the U.S., where cool season grasses are most prevalent). While there are also benefits to overseeding in the Spring, this tends to be a “pickier” time to do it. If you seed too early in the Spring, late freezes and frosts–and snow!–can still hurt your seed’s chances of germinating. If you seed too late in the Spring, your grass may not have enough time to develop deep enough roots to survive the summer’s heat.
What should I do before Overseeding?
In general, you cannot just open the bag of seed and throw it down! The sun will cook your seed, the wind will take it away (if the birds don’t!), and the seed is unlikely to make the contact with the soil that it needs to sprout healthy roots.
One of the best things you can do to prepare for overseeding is aeration. This involves pulling small cores of soil from your lawn using an aeration machine. There are manual aeration devices (ever seen those spikey shoes that you strap on?), but we don’t recommend these–they’re a lot of work, and might actually compress the soil more! Aerators can generally be rented at your local hardware or rental store and are very effective.
By aerating your lawn, you’re allowing water, air, nutrients, fertilizer and seed to reach deeper down into the soil ecosystem, providing a much greater environment for your grass to grow deep, healthy roots. In particular, aeration greatly improves the soil-to-seed contact that will allow the best chance at seed germination and seedling growth.
Wait, why should I overseed again?
In addition to promoting a more dense, beautiful lawn, overseeding also introduces new and improved types of grass to your yard. This diversity protects your lawn from disease, bugs and drought, and generally improves your lawn’s ability to resist the harsh stresses of summer!
But, in order to do all of this, you need to make sure you’re applying the highest-quality grass seed, as well as addressing any underlying challenges that your lawn may be facing. The best way to do this? A Lawn Serv subscription, of course! Our plans are all tailored specifically to your lawn by using the most advanced soil testing available. And, we work directly with some of the leading grass seed suppliers–including those that supply professional sod farms with their seed!–so we can offer our customers the highest quality seed and best advice along the way.
As always, feel free to reach out with any questions–we’re here to help along the way!
Soil can be tested at any time of the year, but for optimal results get your soil tested in fall or early spring this gives you ample time to make adjustments before you start planting.
Use a soil composition (soil from around your yard combined) as most amendments are going to be deployed broadly around the yard and there are not likely huge swings in nutrient levels to warrant super specific small tailoring of amendments.
Test every couple years to see how the amendments you have made are affecting the soil.
Testing your soil is incredibly beneficial to the everyday home-owner with a lawn. Testing your soil allows you to understand the fertility of the lawn and its specific nutrient levels and what it needs in order to prosper. You can then tailor your applications to target the specific needs of your lawn. This should save you time and money while being more effective and better for the environment.
How to test your soil:
Hands down the best way to test your soil is through either an extension school/university or through a private lab. The prices can range from $15 if you drop it off to $100 if you ship it in. The biggest problem is knowing what to do with the results. They will provide you with a lot of language such as 3 lbs of nitrogen per 1,000 sq ft. If that doesn’t make a lot of sense to you it might make sense to use Lawn Serv.
Things you will test for:
There are many different types of nutrients or lack thereof in a yard, and they can differ city to city or state to state based on a lot of different factors. Some of the main lawn related items you should see in a soil test result are:
You will see recommendations regarding nitrogen levels based on these factors and where you are located in the country also.
How to with Lawn Serv:
With Lawn Serv it is as simple as clicking a button.
We often have customers reach out to ask whether they should tackle any of these complex-sounding lawn procedures. Does my lawn need to be aerated? When should I dethatch my lawn? How do I overseed…if I need to?
The good news is that these are actually much more straightforward than they seem. And, we’re here to help along the entire way!
Read on for an overview of the benefits of aeration, dethatching and overseeding, as well as one of our favorite videos highlighting some of the key steps.
And, as always, feel free to get in touch anytime with questions!
FIRST: WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF LAWN AERATION, DE-THATCHING, AND OVERSEEDING?
Aeration loosens compacted soil. Loose soil allows grass roots to plunge deeper into the soil, providing better access to vital water resources, particularly during times of stress (hot sun!).
Aeration (and de-thatching!) reduces thatch. Thatch is basically grass stems and roots that accumulate faster than they breakdown. Excessive thatch creates an environment that pests and diseases love!
Aeration opens access to the root zone. This allows much better circulation of air, moisture and food to the root zone, where nutrients are absorbed.
Aeration yields greater seed germination. Aeration holes (from “core aeration”) provide a great little spot for seeds to settle and germinate.
Overseeding introduces new grass variety and thickens existing turf. By diversifying your grass plants over time, you’re protecting against disease, drought, and pests. And, overseeding increases grass density, filling in bare spots, and crowding out weeds and pests!
Overseeding builds resistance to disease. By incorporating different blends of grass seed, you reduce your risk to diseases that can wipe out the entire lawn.
Aeration and overseeding will help to reduce weeds. Opportunistic weeds germinate in areas where they can be successful. Crabgrass grows in thin areas, nutsedge pops up in thin/low spots, and broadleaf weeds spread where there is little desirable grass. The best defense is to have a thick lawn.
Aeration and overseeding will give your lawn an immediate, beautiful boost! If your lawn was attacked by fungus, insects, or animals this year a core aeration and overseeding will help. You’ll be able to see seed germination in 7-10 days.
AERATION, DETHATCHING, AND OVERSEEDING EXAMPLE: IN THIS VIDEO, THIS OLD HOUSE LANDSCAPE CONTRACTOR ROGER COOK BREATHES NEW LIFE INTO AN OLD LAWN.
Lawn Renovation Steps: 1. Put on hearing protection and mow the lawn to a height of 1½ inch. Be sure to collect the grass clippings. 2. Run a de-thatcher across the entire lawn to remove dead plant matter. 3. Use a leaf rake to collect and remove all the thatch pulled from the lawn. 4. Run a gas-powered core aerator across the lawn. 5. Rake up and remove the soil plugs extracted by the aerator. 6. Spread compost over the lawn and rake it down into the holes. 7. Analyze the physical structure of the soil with a soil test kit; amend the soil as necessary. 8. Use a broadcast spreader to over-seed the lawn with new grass seed. Adjust the spreader to dispense seven pounds of seed per 1,000 square feet area. 9. Use backside of leaf rake to lightly work the grass seed into the lawn. 10. Lightly water twice a day to keep the lawn damp, not soaking wet.