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After hot summer, turf doctor says now is the time to cure those ailing lawns

After hot summer, turf doctor says now is the time to cure those ailing lawns


COLUMBIA, Mo. – Homeowners have watched their lawns struggle through a long, hot summer that included disease pressures, drought and insects.

Now is the optimum time of the year for over-seeding, said a University of Missouri Extension turf scientist.

“It is the best time of the year to plant new seed, open the soil and begin fall fertilization,” said Brad Fresenburg.

The best time to seed cool-season grasses is before Oct. 1. Lawns seeded in September are more likely to fill in completely by winter and produce a thicker appearance the following spring than lawns seeded in October, he said.

Increased rainfall should come with the arrival of fall, and the battle with summer annual weeds will close with the first frost, he said.

The pH of the soil is important to know, and a range of 6.5 to 6.8 is excellent for turf establishment. Obtain a soil fertility test to determine optimum lime application needs. Starter fertilizers are usually recommended at a rate of one pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet at time of the seeding, but this can vary with test results, Fresenburg said.

Perennial broadleaf weeds, if infestations are high, should be controlled at this time of year. Trimec and Weed-B-Gone are effective over-the-counter products for homeowners.

Product labels usually recommend three weeks between spraying and seeding, so start early if controlling broadleaf weeds first, he said.

Good seed/soil contact is important for seed germination. The final step to successful lawn renovation is proper watering. The first two weeks after seeding are most critical. Keep the soil damp, not wet. Until seed germinates and starts to put down a root, seed can wash away easily. Don’t let the seed dry out once it starts to germinate. Avoid puddling and runoff.

In a successful renovation, seedling turfgrass should be up and growing in 10 to 14 days, he said. For more information on lawn care, visit the University of Missouri Extension Web site, or go directly to MU Extension Guide sheet G6705, “Cool-Season Grasses: Lawn Maintenance Calendar,” at