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FAQ's - Lawns - Getting Started - Fall

lawn in the fall

Lawns-Getting StartedLawns-Overseeding & Renovation
Lawns-Management PracticesLawns-Weed Management

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More lawn information

Earlier in the fall I hired a lawn service to core aerate and seed my lawn.  Apparently they are planning on doing this in early November.  Am I wasting my money by having them do this at that time?

How long do I have to wait to seed my lawn after I have applied a weedkiller?

My lawn is thin in many areas and I want to overseed. If I mow the lawn short can I just spread the seed over the top of the existing grass or is there something else I need to do before I plant it?

I bought some grass seed that was on sale at the end of the season. How long is the seed good for and what is the best way to store it?

We recently moved into a new house in a wooded neighborhood with lots of tall shade trees. We want to know what type of grass would be best to use. We have a sloping, shady yard, have two small children and a big dog so it gets lots of wear and tear and needs a tough grass.   What do you suggest?

Earlier in the fall I hired a lawn service to core aerate and seed my lawn.  Apparently they are planning on doing this in early November.  Am I wasting my money by having them do this at that time?

Our information advises folks to have their grass seed down by the middle of October.  Of course, this really depends on the weather and sometimes you can get lucky.  It takes about 10-14 days for tall fescue seed to germinate when daytime temperatures range between 60°-70°, with cooler temperatures this process takes longer.  Ask the company for a written guarantee stating that they will reseed in the early spring if the fall planting is not successful.

How long do I have to wait to seed my lawn after I have applied a weedkiller?

That information should be found on the label of the product you applied. In general, for broadleaf weed herbicides it can be a matter of weeks but it depends on the active ingredient of the herbicide contained in the product you purchased. If you applied a crabgrass preemergent you may need to wait as long as 3-4 months.  The wait time is less if you applied a non-selective herbicide to kill all the vegetation. Just make sure that the weeds are dead before seeding.

My lawn is thin in many areas and I want to overseed. If I mow the lawn short can I just spread the seed over the top of the existing grass or is there something else I need to do before I plant it?

Overseeding will help to thicken up a thin lawn but there is a process to it. First, if it has been more than 3 years since your last soil test you should do one again. Since seed to soil contact is essential for germination and growth it is necessary to use a core aerator or a vertical mower to slice into the soil before seeding.  Core aeration also helps to ease soil compaction on yards with heavy foot traffic. When using a core aerator it is recommended to run it over the area to be seeded at least twice. Grass seed will germinate only where the plugs of soil have been removed so therefore the more plugs, the thicker the new lawn will eventually be.  Watch our lawn establishment video for some tips.

I bought some grass seed that was on sale at the end of the season. How long is the seed good for and what is the best way to store it?

The germination rate of grass does decline over time.  It can be up to 50% per year for each year it is stored after the expiration date. Plan to use the seed within the year. Store it in a cool, dry spot that is not subject to extremely warm temperatures.  To check the viability of seeds you can line-up ten seeds in the middle of a folded, damp piece of paper towel.  Slide it into a plastic bag and keep the paper towel slightly moist. Check daily and within a week or two the seeds should germinate. If some of the seeds do not germinate you should sow it at the maximum rate of 8 lbs. per 1,000 sq. ft. if you are sowing the seed on bare soil.

We recently moved into a new house in a wooded neighborhood with lots of tall shade trees. We want to know what type of grass would be best to use. We have a sloping, shady yard, have two small children and a big dog so it gets lots of wear and tear and needs a tough grass.   What do you suggest?

Growing grass under large shade trees is difficult. The fact that your dog and children also use this area complicates matters. There is not a species of grass that will grow in the shade and handle heavy foot traffic as well. Blends of fine fescues which include hard, chewings, and creeping red fescue are low maintenance grasses that handle shady conditions, but not foot traffic. Consider pruning the trees to allow more light into the yard.  Turf type tall fescue will grow in areas that receive about 4-5 hours of sunlight and holds up better to active families.  In the fall, be prepared to overseed on a regular basis.  Test your soil to check the pH before beginning a lawn renovation project.  Plant a shade loving groundcover in areas where turf will not grow and mulch around the base of the trees. 

Please send us a question at Ask the Experts if you have a lawn question you would like answered. Digitial photos can be attached to your question.

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