Renovating home lawns
April 14, 2006 - Author: Kevin Frank, Kevin Frank, Michigan State University Extension, Department of Crop & Soil Sciences
Editor’s note: This article is from the archives of the MSU Crop Advisory Team Alerts. Check the label of any pesticide referenced to ensure your use is included.
After last summer’s challenging growing conditions, it’s likely that many are looking to reseed some damaged turf areas this spring. Depending on location there are certainly some grub hot spots around and many of these areas will need to be reseeded. The recommendation is to wait about one to two weeks after applying a grub insecticide before reseeding.
It is perfectly safe to apply fertilizer at the time of seeding. A starter fertilizer is a fertilizer that typically has a nitrogen to phosphate ratio of 1:1 or 1:1.5. A starter fertilizer application at seeding will prove beneficial in getting the young seedlings going. Typical application rates for a starter fertilizer at seeding are 1 lb. N/1000 sq. ft. Make sure to keep the seeded area moist throughout establishment. In many cases this may require watering several times a day. A good mulch cover will help the area stay moist so the site may be watered less frequently. Water lightly when irrigating, there is no need to see water standing or running off the site.
If you’re reseeding turf areas, make sure to avoid applying herbicides this spring, i.e., no fertilizer + crabgrass preventer or weed & feed products. Young seedlings don’t tolerate herbicides very well, and the guideline is usually to wait three "real" mowings before applying any herbicides or in some cases at least 60 days. By "real" mowings, I mean you’re actually cutting significant grass, not just running over the area to trim down any weeds.
Probably due to the prolific mole activity this past winter we are receiving many questions about rolling lawns. Generally, we do not recommend that homeowners roll lawns due to the possibility of compacting soils, especially those soils with high clay contents. However, now that we’ve got that disclaimer out of the way, you probably will not do that much damage to your turf or compact the soil by doing a rolling this spring as long as the soil is not too wet. Rolling will help smooth out the mole tunnels, earthworm castings and every other lump and bump that popped up this winter. If you’re using one of the water ballast lightweight rollers, start out with about ¼ of the roller filled and take a pass over the lawn to see if that’s enough weight to smooth out the bumps. If not put a little more water in, following this gradual increase in weight exercise will help ensure that you don’t start out too heavy and compact the soil.