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Prepare Now for a Healthier Lawn Next Spring 

By Pat Roome, Master Gardener & ENN Member

You may be looking at your lawn and wishing that it looked thicker and greener. You can have a lawn that looks better next summer by growing the grass roots this fall.

Lawn fertilizers commonly sold here were formulated for a different climate zone than our zone 7 or 8. These fertilizers promote the top growth of  grass so the lawn needs mowing more often than it should.  Have a different plan this fall to grow a better-looking lawn.

When the rain has deeply saturated your turf in late September or in early October, have the lawn plugged. A heavy-duty plugging machine will remove cylinders of turf 2’-3’ deep. These plugs do not need to be raked up. Holes made by the machine will allow fertilizer to reach the grass roots. Fertilizers spread on the surface may not reach the deeper grass roots and can be washed off the soil before being absorbed into the soil.

Look for a lawn fertilizer with the lowest nitrogen content that you can find.  Nitrogen is the first number on the formulation in the bag.  Ideally this number will be between 10 and 20. The second number is Phosphorus; ideally, it should be 0, but not over 5. The third number is Potash and you would like that to be over 5.

Apply this fertilizer after the lawn is plugged and then again a month later. This should be completed before Christmas. Do not fertilize the lawn again until April. The fertilizer that you have applied will grow the plant roots.


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Avoid Lawn Weed Killer!

Don’t use a lawn weed killer because it damages the grass along with the weeds. Moss is not killed by lime so don’t use it. Moss only grows in the spaces where grass has died. Strengthen the grass and you won’t have moss.


However, grass does not grow well in shady conditions. Maybe the grass could be replaced by a ground cover. It is tempting to have a moss lawn, but that takes much more care to look good than grass does.



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