Can I Seed My Lawn in October? Answers From Jonathan Green If you have decided that you are ready for a total lawn makeover, your first order of business should be to get rid of the weeds. Most professional landscapers
It’s Not Too Late to Seed: Your October Lawn Care Guide
Have you been debating whether or not to reseed or overseed your lawn this fall? Well, we’ve got great news: it’s not too late!
Seeding early in the fall is always best, but there is still time to develop a thicker, greener lawn if you seed now. It is always better to do so in the fall than waiting for next spring when weeds and cold weather can hinder your efforts. Despite evening temperatures dropping below 60ºF, the soil temperature is about 5º to 10ºF higher. Newly planted grass seed likes warm soil which is one of the reasons why fall is the best time to seed. In warmer soil, grass roots reach down deep to establish the plant before winter weather sets in.
If you’re reseeding or overseeding this fall, follow these steps:
1. Test and Amend Soil pH
If you haven’t tested your soil pH, do so now. Your soil pH is critical to growing a healthy lawn. If your pH is not balanced, it can cause weeds to thrive, and limit the amount of nutrients available to your grass plants. Cool-season grasses thrive in soil pH values between 6.2 to 7.0. If your pH is below or above 7 add Mag-I-Cal Plus, which comes in both acidic and alkaline versions to balance your soil pH. The calcium in this product also helps to strengthen cell walls and prepare grass plants for winter, while reducing disease potential.
2. Prepare Soil and Seed
Proper soil preparation is key to growing a successful lawn. Although some of the seeds may germinate if you were to simply throw the seed onto your lawn, you will not see great results without preparing your soil.
First, rake the areas that will be seeded vigorously to loosen the soil. Alternatively, rent a power rake or slit seeding machine for the best results. If needed, level the ground. Next, apply the seed with a spreader to ensure even coverage. Be sure not to bury newly planted grass seed more than ¼ inch in depth. Once seed is applied, turn your rake over and gently swish it back and forth to barely cover the seed. Seed to soil contact is very important and enhances germination.
By this time of year, we may experience the first frost, but lawns will still grow with sunny days ahead. The first frost also will kill any existing crabgrass, which is another reason fall seeding is preferred to spring. If you notice bare spots in your lawn after crabgrass has died, you can fill them in with new grass seed.
Fall is a great time to grow grass, and thus is also a great time to feed your lawn! An application of Winter Survival Fall Lawn Food is great at this time. Fertilizing twice in the fall, once in late August and once in late October, will keep your lawn green throughout the rest of the year. Winter Survival is not too high in Nitrogen, as excess Nitrogen can lead to snow mold disease problems later in winter and spring.
4. Control Weeds
Another reason fall is ideal for seeding is that there are less weeds! This means that weed control in lawns at this time of year is generally limited to broadleaf weeds. Provided weeds are actively growing and soil temperatures are above 55ºF, you can successfully control many types of broadleaf weeds.
If you only have a few weeds throughout your lawn, spot spraying is most effective. However, if you have a lot of weeds, a broadcast application of Green-Up Weed & Feed is best. Why not give your lawn its last feeding for the season and clean out as many weeds as you can before next year?
Note: Do not apply weed control for at least four weeks after seeding. If you do, it will hurt the new seedling’s development. Before four weeks or up until the second mowing the new grass will not be able to handle the effects of the herbicide.
One last tip before you go: keep mowing your lawn as long as it needs it into late fall! Be sure your mower blades are sharp and in good working order. You can leave clippings on the lawn provided they are not wet or developing clumps which may kill existing grass.
In conclusion, it is not too late to seed your lawn in October and it always better to seed a lawn in the fall, than waiting until next spring. Wondering why? Check out our 5 Reasons It’s Best to Seed in The Fall blog post!
Controlling Weeds before You Plant Your Lawn
If you have decided that you are ready for a total lawn makeover, your first order of business should be to get rid of the weeds. Most professional landscapers will tell you that the best way to get rid of weeds is to spray the entire area with an herbicide.
The most commonly available, easiest to use, and relatively safest herbicide is one with the active ingredient glyphosate. Brand names include Roundup, Kleenup, and others. The best way to tell whether you’re getting the product you want is to ask your hardware store or garden center associate to help you. Be sure to read the label and look for the active ingredient glyphosate.
You will probably have to apply this herbicide more than once.
For a lawn over 1,000 square feet, you need to rent or buy a backpack sprayer to do the job. The herbicide comes in a concentrated form that you mix with water according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Cordon off your lawn with tape, streamers, balloons, or some type of barrier. Keep the kids and your pets off the lawn and away from the yard. Glyphosate is a relatively benign herbicide, but it is a pesticide, and children and pets have lower sensitivity thresholds to chemicals than adults.
Make sure that you follow the label instructions and wear a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, rubber boots, and plastic gloves. Wait the specified time for the herbicide to work and then rake off any debris. Your lawn should be grass- and weed-free at this time, but be sure to make another application if you feel it is necessary.
When you’ve finally decided that all weeds and remaining grass are gone, wait one week before you plant your new expensive grass seed.
For those of you who prefer not to use toxic synthetic chemicals to kill the old grass and/or weeds, you can take several approaches to getting rid of weeds without chemicals.
Rent a tiller: For a modest-sized yard with not a lot of weeds or dense turf, till your lawn area to a depth of 4 to 8 inches, rake out the grass and weeds, and till again. Keep tilling and raking until all the green matter is gone. Dump all this material in your compost bin where it decomposes over a period of months.
Credit: “Horns & Tiller,” © 2008 , Lisa Brewster used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode
Be sure to get a tiller that has the rotating tines in the rear behind the tires. They easier to handle than the tillers with the tines in front and over the engine. Running a front-tined tiller is like trying to control a bucking bronco.
Don’t try to till dry or very wet soil. Water the whole area, let it dry for a few days, and then till.
Renting a sod cutter: You simply guide the sod cutter over your old weedy lawn, and it cuts the turf at just below soil level. Turn the sheets of grass upside down where they will decompose and add nutrients to the soil. You also can haul the sod to a recycling center that accepts yard waste.
Using black plastic: If your lawn is less than 1,000 square feet, buy enough heavy-gauge black plastic to cover your entire lawn. Spread the plastic out over the lawn and weigh down the edges with stakes, or rocks. Without sunlight, grass can’t grow and eventually dies. This process can take anywhere from a month to three months, depending on how hot and dry your season is.
Plowing: Plowing is another method to use if your lawn is rather large. Adjust the plow blade or blades to dig the soil to a depth of 6 to 8 inches. Rake off the weeds and debris and keep plowing and raking until you get rid of all the unwanted green matter.
*Bulldozing: If you have a really large area, a bulldozer or Bobcat may be a good option. Adjust the blade so that you’re just scraping off the thin layer of grass and weeds. You don’t want to take off the soil layer.
About This Article
This article is from the book:
About the book authors:
About the Authors Lance Walheim, former staff garden writer for Sunset magazine, is the nationally recognized author of over 30 widely read garden books, including The Natural Rose Gardener and Hungry Minds’ Roses For Dummies. The National Gardening Association (NGA) is recognized for its bimonthly National Gardening magazine and prolific work in science education for children. NGA is also the coauthor of Gardening For Dummies. Roses For Dummies. Perennials For Dummies. Annuals For Dummies. and Container Gardening For Dummies.