New Lawn

Preparing the Ground
Remove all ground debris before preparing the soil. The better prepared the seedbed is, the better the lawn will be. For lawns on heavy soil, we recommend adding more sand. If the soil is light or sandy, work in a good amount of organic matter such as peat moss. Level the ground and be careful not to remove too much topsoil from any area. Rake the soil and prepare the seedbed. A fertilizer should be then be incorporated into the soil prior to seeding.

When to Sow
DLF lawn seed mixtures can be planted at any time from early spring to early fall. In dry weather the seedbed must be kept constantly moist with a fine spray until the grass is well established; approximately 2 inches.

How to Sow
Depending on species, 3 to 10 lbs. of seed per 1,000 sq. ft. is recommended to get a good establishment. An easy way of planting the seed is to divide the area into sections and then divide the seed into as many lots as there are sections. Sow half the seed for one section from left to right, and then the other half from top to bottom. This will help to ensure an even distribution of seed over the area.

Incorporate a balanced fertilizer into the seedbed prior to seeding. The lawn should then be fed at least once in early spring, again in mid-summer, and once more in the fall. Fertilizer applied in early spring and mid-summer should have a good nitrogen content to encourage growth and color. Fertilizer applied in the fall should be of a lower nitrogen content, but a higher phosphate and potash content to encourage root growth and resistance to frost, drought and disease.

Mow the lawn for the first time when it is 2 to 3 inches (5 to 8 cm) tall. Trim lightly and gradually lower the blades to an ideal cutting height of 1 to 1.25 inches (3 to 3.5 cm) depending on species and location. Whenever mowing is prevented and grass becomes tall, lower the mowing height using the 1/3 rule. To maintain good turf density and color, no more than 30% of the leaf tissue should be removed during any one mowing. For the last few cuttings of the year and during dry summer periods, the height of the blades should be raised gradually. When mowing frequently, the cuttings can be left on the lawn. If mowed infrequently, the cuttings should be removed and used for compost or mulch. To ensure a clean cut and an attractive turf, keep mower blades sharp and mow when the turf is dry.

Annual Weeds - These are mainly apparent in newly seeded lawns and usually disappear with mowing.

Perennial Weeds - These appear in all lawns and often will not disappear when mowing, and should be treated with weed killer. Established lawns can be treated with weed killer anytime from May through September, but not during periods of drought as the weed killer will then become ineffective and may burn the lawn.

Coarse Weed Grasses - Selective weed killers cannot eradicate these. The only effective way of getting rid of them is to cut out the roots with a sharp pointed knife.

Moss - This is usually the biggest problem of all and can be caused by a number of factors including a lack of fertilizer, mowing too close, poor drainage, shade, dripping from trees, over-rolling, compaction, lime shortage, or not enough topsoil. To get rid of moss, you must find out which of the above factors is causing the problem and then rectify the matter. A proprietary moss killer can also be used.

Grasses need adequate moisture to prevent stress and to maintain an actively growing, healthy lawn. As water becomes limiting, moisture will be allocated to critical processes and leaves will die and turn brown. New and existing lawns can be helped during periods of drought by watering. Once the lawn is established, water should be applied abundantly with a sprinkler. The amount of water is dependent on the climate conditions, location, and water holding capacity of the soil. More irrigation will be needed during hot, dry windy conditions. Irrigation should be applied during the morning hours and deep enough to reach the roots.

Raking is hard work, but normally one good raking in the spring is all that is needed. Use the special type of spring rake for this purpose, not an ordinary garden rake.

The Benefits of Raking

  • It moves the dead grass, which prevents drainage and holds up growth.
  • It lets air into the crown of the grass plants.
  • It sets up creeping weeds ready for mowing.
  • It encourages the formation of new shoots.

This can be done once a year, but it too is hard work and only really needs to be done when renovating a neglected lawn or if the soil is badly compacted.

The Benefits of Dethatching

  • It lets air to the grass roots.
  • It improves soil drainage
  • It stimulates the growth of new roots.
  • It makes the lawn more resistant to drought in the summer.

For a first rate lawn, apply a top dressing on an annual basis in spring or fall. The mixture is usually made up of peat, loam, and sand. Minor hollows that have developed will be filled, and an improved soil surface will gradually build up. The layer of topdressing stimulates the formation of new shoots and promotes the development of runners; resulting in a denser stand.

Existing lawns can be improved by overseeding. New grass retains the green color longer in periods of drought due to better root establishment. Weed invasion is also minimized as the plant becomes denser. Overseeding can be done in the spring or early fall.