Garden Clippings for May 4, 2019
It’s been perfect weather for grass seeding. Perfect. A bit of sun, a fair bit of rain and a warming trend. If I would have spilled some grass seed on the picnic table, it would have surely sprouted!
Whether starting a new lawn or top dressing a weak, patchy lawn, the two conditions you want to meet are a blend of moisture and heat. And once the seed has sprouted it will need nutrients to sustain good growth.
Prior to sowing grass seed, start with a good seed bed. The shortcut method to preparing the soil is scratch it with a good garden rake. This will ensure the seed is not trying to sprout on hardpan.
The longcut seed bed preparation involves adding a thin layer of screened topsoil over the existing weak lawn. Use this opportunity to level low spots and enrich poor soil.
For new lawns, broadcast the seed at the rate of 1 pound on 200 square feet of area. To thicken up an existing lawn you can use half that amount. Don’t be afraid to be liberal because grass seed is inexpensive. Five pounds or 2 kg of seed will cover 1,000 square feet, the size of a typical subdivision double driveway.
Adding turf starter fertilizer will enhance the root growth of new grass seed. Look for a phosphorous rich formulation such as 5-15-5. Once the seed has sprouted and you have cut it three times, switch to a higher nitrogen fertilizer such as 20-5-5.
Choose your lawn seed with care. Look for a Canada #1 seed mix which is your guarantee that seed is certified viable to Canadian standards.
Good grass seed mixes will contain a blend of 3 or 4 varieties of seed. Kentucky Bluegrass makes a fine sun-loving grass with rich green colour. Kentucky Bluegrass is hardy but wants fertilizer and water in summer to keep it looking wonderful. Kentucky Bluegrass is slow to sprout.
Poa Trivialis is a fine leafed bluegrass that withstands shade and damp soil.
Creeping Red Fescue is a fine leafed fescue grass that withstands drought and tolerates shade. Chewings Fescue is equally attractive, likes shade, and grows in poor soil. Fescue grasses are hardy and disease resistant.
Turf Type Perennial Ryegrass is a companion seed ingredient that is great for overseeing because of its quick germination. In addition to its quick performance, it serves as a nurse grass to encourage the other grasses to germinate and thrive.
The new heavily advertised coated seed mixtures are expensive, provide less coverage and do not contain as much grass seed per pound.
With luck and good weather, newly sown grass seed can begin showing growth within two weeks. If temperatures are warm, don’t hesitate to give frequent light sprinklings. You might need to cut the new grass within a month. Don’t despair if the seed does not sprout uniformly because each ingredient has its own rate of growth. In short order mowing, watering and feeding your new lawn will cause it to thicken up nicely.